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Barnaby Joyce on George Christensen: don't "prod the bear"

Joyce

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says he won’t tell Queensland MP George Christensen to stop speaking out against Australia’s approach to managing Covid-19, as the government has a thin majority and they can’t afford to lose a single seat.

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Christensen, who has indicated he’ll not run for re-election at the end of his current term, delivered a speech in parliament earlier this week that rallied against the government’s approach to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic arguing against lock downs and face masks.

Social media outlets have deleted his parliamentary speech, citing it contains misinformation about the virus, and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have condemned the claims.

The Nationals leader however says he won’t tell Christensen to stop making his statements about his Covid beliefs indicating he fears Joyce might quit the party.

Speaking to the ABC yesterday, Joyce said the coalition only had a thin margin and if you “start prodding the bear, you’re going to make the situation worse”.

“What people want me to do is order him … and you can’t do that to another member of parliament, because it doesn’t work like that,” Joyce said. “Other people have their own minds.

“You might disagree with their views, and I disagree with some of George’s. But I’m not gonna start ordering people around. They’re adults. You’re an adult, and you can make your choice.”

When it was highlighted to Joyce that leaders of party’s often instruct their members to toe the line on issues, Joyce said when it came to Christensen the voters of the electorate of Dawson would be the “ultimate authority” he’d need to answer to.

“I know how George’s mind works. If you start prodding the bear, you’re gonna make the situation worse for us as a government, not better.” Joyce said. “And I’ll say that to my colleagues, I can assure you that when you’ve got a thin margin, don’t start giving reasons for a byelection.”

OIP Staff


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