Member for Dawson George Christensen.
Member for Dawson George Christensen. Contributed

What made Christensen open door to quitting the LNP

GEORGE Christensen has, for the first time, publicly opened the door to quitting the LNP and joining One Nation after laying bare an ultimatum to Barnaby Joyce.

The thorn-in-the-side of Malcolm Turnbull has used his strongest language to date about his future with the LNP amid an ongoing bitter war between cane growers and international agribusiness, Wilmar Sugar Australia.

A frustrated Mr Christensen said if the Turnbull Government failed to act in the interests of cane growers he would be politically "dead" in his electorate, and "I might not as well bother running at the next election under the LNP banner because there will be no point".

Asked what banner he would run under, he would not say, but did not rule out defecting to One Nation.

Mr Christensen said Mr Joyce understood how important the issue was to farmers and pledged to travel to the Burdekin to speak to them within the next fortnight. Mr Joyce is understood to have spoken to Mr Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison about the issue. Mr Joyce's office was asked for comment yesterday.

The foreign-owned sugar mill and growers have failed to agree on how much money farmers will get for their sugar. Growers cannot send cane to a miller without a supply agreement.

One Nation newspaper advertisements say, "While the major parties are burning the cane industry, One Nation are supporting it. Stop foreign companies dictating Burdekin cane growers".

In his Canberra office and in front of Mr Christensen, The Courier-Mail spoke to the Burdekin District Canegrowers president Laurence Dal Santo.

Mr Dal Santo revealed Mr Christensen had been given a dire warning at a meeting with growers on Sunday.

"We said to George, the Federal Government, the Federal Libs and George himself has to pick a side. He has to side with Australian farmers and Australian citizens who pay tax or a foreign company that comes in ... doesn't vote and doesn't do much at all," Mr Dal Santo said.

"George will not be the Member for Dawson unless he gets this (code of conduct) deal and if that means he leaves the LNP and the National Party and joins One National then so be it."

Mr Christensen said he was happy being a National Party member and would remain as long as "the Turnbull Government gets things done, including this".

Asked about whether Mr Christensen was a MP One Nation would like to see run under their banner at the next election, a spokesman for Senator Hanson said, "that would require George leaving the LNP and he's shown no interest in doing that".

Further statement from MP George Christensen Friday morning;

"I wish to reiterate that I'm a proud member of The Nationals, have been for almost 25 years and want to remain a member for many more years. Our Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is a strong fighter for regional Australia. Together we are going in to fight hard for sugar cane growers who are in a long-standing dispute with the foreign-owned milling company Wilmar. We won't give up until we get a result for our people. That is the most critical issue which needs to be resolved for the Burdekin region in my electorate."

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