CANBERRA -- After repeatedly threatening to walk away from the Turnbull Government, firebrand Nationals MP George Christensen has resigned as the Nationals chief whip to hold onto his treasured right to be outspoken.
The moves comes just hours after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull advised the government troops Tuesday to stay unified for the sake of staying in power.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) February 28, 2017
Christensen has resigned as chief whip because he wants the ability to speak out on controversial issues, such as Islam and the sugar industry.
"I made the decision to resign because my continued outspokenness on a variety of issues was obviously incompatible with the position of Party Whip in the long term," the Queensland MP said in statement.
"I did feel some of my colleagues may have been aggrieved that the enforcer of discipline was being somewhat ill-disciplined himself." pic.twitter.com/g1pBA0HscI— Karen Barlow (@KJBar) February 28, 2017
"It was my decision to resign; and my decision alone.
"I was not pushed by anyone."
It comes after Christensen repeatedly threatened to walk away from the party altogether. Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister has told Sky News the move is not a precursor to the MP joining Pauline Hanson's One Nation party.
"We have a good, close knit team," Joyce insisted.
'I'm too outspoken': George Christensen quits as Nationals whip https://t.co/Y78FZA6S7y— James Massola (@jamesmassola) February 28, 2017
Earlier Tuesday, Turnbull addressed poor polling and destabilisation efforts within the party. He blamed former Prime Minister Tony Abbott Monday, but Tuesday, standing in front of the Coalition joint party room he said the government must unify to survive.
"We have a duty to the Australians, to our constituents to stick together. The next election is in two years time," Turnbull is understood to have said.
"We will win if we stick together."
This has been echoed by Christensen.
"Disunity is death in politics," he told the ABC.
"I just think that there are some areas where we could be doing better."
The MP insists the resignation was a mutual decision with his leader and there is no ill feeling, but he's pointed to some sort of ill-feeling remaining within the Nationals.
"I did feel some of my colleagues may have been aggrieved that the enforcer of discipline was being somewhat ill-disciplined himself," Christensen said.
Nats source: "George couldn't keep doing what he was doing [speak out on issues] and keep the job of whip"— James Massola (@jamesmassola) February 28, 2017
The Turnbull Government scored its worst ever Newspoll Monday and is struggling to stay on message and tackle the rise of One Nation.
The Labor Opposition has all the appearances of enjoying its collective self. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told the Labor Caucus Tuesday that Malcolm Turnbull's main achievement this year was "making (immigration Minister) Peter Dutton look like a contender".
Thursday will be Christensen's last day in the role.Suggest a correction