NT Senator Sam McMahon has revealed her split from the Country Liberal Party was triggered in part by a number of “serious” formal complaints she said the party had failed to resolve.
Sam McMahon will likely sit as an independent but remain in the Nationals party room
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says Ms McMahon’s resignation is not a “dramatic issue”
The CLP says the party will remain registered despite questions about its membership
“There were some serious issues, and those were put to CLP management, and they were not responded to,” Ms McMahon said.
She would not be drawn on the exact nature of the complaints, but CLP president Jamie De Brenni said the complaints related to “internal affairs” within the party.
“The complaints [were] in regards to issues that Sam had with people inside the party, and that’s going to be dealt with, “Mr De Brenni said on Mix 104.9.
Ms McMahon resigned from the CLP late last week, a move that will see the Northern Territory party without a sitting member in federal parliament.
The newly-independent senator pledged she would not become a destabilizing force for her former party, and would continue to support the Morrison Coalition Government.
“I have no intention of shifting away from the government, or causing trouble, or not supporting the government,” she said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce – whom Ms McMahon counts as a “personal friend” – told Sky News that the NT Senator would “remain part of the government”.
“That’s very, very important,” Mr Joyce said on Sunday.
“Sam will remain as a member of the government in the Nationals room, probably as an independent, I’d say.
“But what are we talking about? We’re talking about something very close to the end of parliament before we go to an election, so I do not think this is a dramatic issue.”
CLP president says party remains ‘compliant’
Ms McMahon’s defection may have ramifications on the CLP’s status as a registered federal party.
The Australian Electoral Commission today confirmed that, without a sitting member in parliament, the CLP may have to prove that it has 1,500 members to continue to retain its party status.
“We’ll review the circumstances of any party where we understand they used to be a parliamentary party and are no longer,” AEC spokesman Evan Ekin-Smyth said.
“So, what we do is we look at those circumstances and determine if they need to provide a membership list, and meet the requirement of 1,500 members.”
Mr De Brenni would not answer directly if the party had 1,500 paid members.
But he said his advice was that the CLP’s traditional affiliation with the Nationals would count towards the party’s membership total.
“My understanding is that with our association with the Nationals, we are compliant,” Mr De Brenni said.
The AEC said they would review the matter, and that if it determined the party no longer had the numbers to sustain its registration, CLP candidates would have to run as independents at the upcoming federal election.