Senior Nationals back MP over Manila trips

Senior Nationals back MP over Manila trips


National News
Senior Nationals backed MP George Christensen over his time away from his job and electorate.

Senior Nationals backed MP George Christensen over his time away from his job and electorate.

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Nationals leader Michael McCormack has thrown his support behind embattled MP George Christensen, despite ongoing revelations about his frequent trips to the...

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Nationals leader Michael McCormack has thrown his support behind embattled MP George Christensen, despite ongoing revelations about his frequent trips to the Philippines.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has also backed his Queensland colleague, saying he is entitled to love and can work from his iPad.

The Mackay-based MP has been under sustained pressure over spending 300 days over four years overseas instead of in his electorate.

In the latest damaging blow, it was revealed by the Sydney Morning Herald that Mr Christensen missed a third of hearings into development in northern Australia because he was abroad.

Mr McCormack, who has led the party since February last year, said Mr Christensen had put a stop to the travel since a discussion in July.

"When I became the deputy prime minister and became aware that he had spent some time away from his electorate, we had a conversation," Mr McCormack told reporters in Tasmania on Thursday.

"He's certainly been concentrating on his electorate since."

Mr Littleproud said his under-fire colleague struck a flexible work-life balance while delivering for the people of Dawson.

"With all due respect he's a human being, he has a fiance, he's in love with the lady," he told ABC Radio National.

"You know what? We do feel too."

Mr Christensen reportedly earned $550 a day during his 28 trips to the Philippines.

"Obviously there's this thing called technology, and you're never away from your electorate, even when you are overseas," Mr Littleproud said.

"There's a work-life balance that you can achieve, and technology has allowed us to bring that into his life."

Mr McCormack defended Mr Christensen after the outspoken Queenslander referred $3000 of taxpayer-funded connecting flights to the Philippines to the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.

"I've got every faith in George Christensen's ability to deliver," he said.

The MP is "absolutely confident" his travel was within the rules.

Mr Christensen's partner lives in the Philippines and he has not disputed the amount of time he has spent in the country.

The MP holds Dawson with a notional margin of 3.4 per cent.

He was the sole challenger to Mr McCormack for the Nationals leadership after Barnaby Joyce quit amid a storm of controversy about his affair with a staffer.

Australian Associated Press

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