Turncoat politician should resign, says former MP
LLEW O'Brien had "out-Slippered" former Member for Fisher Peter Slipper in accepting the Deputy Speaker's position in the federal parliament and should have resigned from office when he quit the National Party, according to a former politician who rejected a similar office.
Former Member for Fairfax Alex Somlyay said Mr O'Brien, the Member for Wide Bay, had put the Coalition government in an embarrassing position when he accepted his nomination by the Labor Party.
"He can't fly the LNP flag after doing that," Mr Somlyay said.
"He's out-slippered Slipper."
Mr O'Brien took the job by a margin of 75-67 thanks to the backing of Labor, cross-benchers and a small group of his former National Party colleagues.
The Morrison government had nominated Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum for the role.
Mr O'Brien has been contacted for comment.
Mr Somlyay in 2010 told the Gillard Labor Government he would only accept the Speaker's role if he was nominated by the Coalition.
"Labor wanted to make the nomination. I said 'no', Slipper said 'yes'," he said.
"There's an absolute rule in politics, disunity is death. What they are doing to Morrison (Prime Minister Scott Morrison) is political suicide.
"The LNP has always said if you resign from the party as a sitting member you should resign from parliament.
"Officially the LNP is the Queensland branch of the Federal Liberal Party. But the arrangements at amalgamation (in 2008) were elected in an area held by the Nationals at that point would sit in that party room in Canberra.
"Everyone knew Llew O'Brien as a National. He was always going to follow Warren Truss' footprints.
"The principle is he should resign from parliament."
Mr O'Brien has argued the ballot paper described him as LNP and that he would sit in the joint-party room meetings that follow the morning separate meetings of Liberals and Nationals that preceded each day parliament was sitting.
Senior lecturer in politics and science at Griffith University Dr Paul Williams said Mr O'Brien had at one level exposed a thought-buried rift between old and new Nationals - between climate change believers and deniers.
At a pragmatic level he said Mr O'Brien would continue to sit in the joint party room and his vote for the Morrison government was guaranteed.
"It's more appearances than actuality," Dr Williams said.
"But any division is bad."
He said turmoil in the LNP over recent poor polling by state leader Deb Frecklington underscored what an ungainly beast the amalgamated party was.
Dr Williams said if there were two stand-alone parties, the Nationals could be as conservative as it liked and suck the oxygen from Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the Bob Katter Party.