Will O’Brien’s return stir up a hornets nest for Nationals?
QUESTIONS about the stability of the National Party will be in the air today with rebel Wide Bay MP Llew O’Brien returning to the party room he dramatically quit 10 months ago.
Mr O’Brien told the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun-Herald his return was not about destabilising the party but was due to “massive policy fights” with the opposition and Liberal Party in the coming months.
“I’m putting any old grievances behind me and I hope for everyone else’s sake they can, too,” he told Nine media.
“I don’t think I need to apologise for anything.
“I said what I said and was upfront about it.
“I am actually rejoining my colleagues so we can fight for the best interests of Australians.”
It is expected colleagues will challenge him on his decisions over the past year, which followed his decision to call a spill motion against the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in February.
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In the aftermath of his departure Mr O’Brien was appointed the Deputy Speaker role on the back of a nomination from Labor, winning the seat over the LNP’s preferred candidate Damien Drum.
Mr O’Brien’s nomination was supported by a handful of anti-McCormack MPs.
He has also employed Vikki Campion, National MP Barnaby Joyce’s partner, part-time in his electorate office.
Before his exit he was the subject of a bullying complaint made in November last year by Queensland Nationals MP Michelle Landry; Mr O’Brien said the incident as a “robust discussion” and now in the past.
The first priority on his return to the room would be energy.
“There’s very different opinions on our energy direction in the Coalition. And I’m very much in the Matt Canavan camp when it comes to energy policy,” he told Nine media.
“I think post-COVID we need to get rid of all ideology, have a look at what our national strengths are and capitalise on them.”