George Christensen (politician)

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George Christensen
MP
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Dawson
Incumbent
Assumed office
21 August 2010
Preceded by James Bidgood
Personal details
Born (1978-06-30) 30 June 1978 (age 36)
Mackay, Queensland
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal National (state)
National (federal)
Profession Journalist
Religion Greek Orthodox
Website www.GeorgeChristensen.com.au

George Robert Christensen (born 30 June 1978), an Australian federal politician, is a member of the Australian House of Representatives representing the seat of Dawson in Queensland for the Liberal National Party of Queensland, elected at the 2010 federal election. He will sit with the National Party in Parliament.[1]

Early years and background[edit]

Christensen was born in Mackay, to third-generation cane farmers who originally emigrated from Denmark in 1901. Christensen was schooled in Andergrove, Walkerston and at Mackay State High before completing an undergraduate degree in journalism. He gained practical experience at the community newspaper, The Pioneer News, before founding a successful publishing business producing two other community newspapers: Walkerston & Valley Advertiser and Northern Beaches Advertiser.[2]

In 2004, Christensen was elected to Mackay City Council and in 2008, gained a seat on the amalgamated Mackay Regional Council. He had extensive community involvement and was a director of the Mackay Regional Housing Company and Vice-President of Mackay Regional Council for Social Development. He was the foundation chair of Walkerston Community Kindergarten Association and former chair of HACC Transport Mackay Inc.

Political career[edit]

Christensen ran as the LNP candidate for the seat of Dawson at the 2010 federal election. On 5 February 2010 the sitting member for Dawson, James Bidgood, announced that he would retire for health reasons, after only one term.[3] Based on Australian Electoral Commission results as at close of the tally room count on 21 August 2010, Christensen was leading the two-party-preferred vote by 2.04 points. In the final result at the declaration of the poll, Christensen had achieved a 5.02-point swing on a two-party-preferred basis, with a margin of 2.43 points.[1][4]

After the election it was revealed that Christensen failed to resign from his position on the Mackay Regional Council before the election, putting himself at risk of high court action which would not allow him to take office as the member for Dawson.[5][6] Previously, independent Phil Cleary and Liberal Jackie Kelly have been faced with a by-election after failing to resign from public service positions before winning their respective seats. Despite this, several constitutional law experts said it was unlikely any legal challenge against Christensen would be successful because the constitution ban on "officers of profit under the crown" being elected to federal parliament would most likely not apply to local government councillors.[7]

In July 2011, Christensen joined other Liberal National Party MPs in driving the entire Bruce Highway as part of a campaign to highlight problem areas on the road and to secure more funding for the Bruce Highway from the Commonwealth.[8] During the road trip, one of the vehicles in the convoy of MPs hit what Christensen described as a "crater of a pothole" resulting in a tyre blowout. Christensen replaced the blown tyre.[9]

Christensen came to national media attention again in September 2012 after he launched an attack in parliament on the National Health and Medical Research Council which he accused of demonising the sugar industry through their new food guidelines. The strong defence of the sugar industry earnt Christensen the title of "sugar plum fairy".[10]

Christensen launched a campaign in October 2012 to persuade the producers of science fiction television series Doctor Who to film the show in Australia in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its first screening on Australian television which falls on 12 January 2015. Christensen describes himself as "an obese Doctor Who fan".[11] Two Doctor Who stars have publicly supported Christensen's campaign.[12]

Controversies[edit]

Christensen gained national media attention during the 2010 federal election campaign as attention was drawn to articles published by Christensen in the 1990s in The Student Advocate, a conservative university newsletter.[13] The newsletter articles contained slurs against Jews, gays and women, and although Christensen claimed that the articles had been taken out of context he said he was sorry for publishing the comments.[14][15][16]

In June 2011 Christensen drew criticism from fellow MPs for his manner of attack on Labor's shutdown of the live cattle trade to Indonesia. Christensen implied that Indonesia's religion (the dominant Islamic culture) is to blame for the torture of common cattle, and that Australian farmers should not receive criticism for Indonesian mistreatment of live cattle exported to the nation.[17]

In the wake of the 2012 Sydney anti-Islam film protests in September, Christensen launched a public attack on those taking part in the demonstration, saying those who broke the law, other than himself, should "jump on the first plane and head back to where you come from because that stuff is just simply not on in this nation."[18] He also called for authorities to investigate the parents of a young boy who held up a sign which read "behead all those who insult the prophet" during the protests and said the child in question should be put in the care of "better people".[19]

In February 2013, Christensen was the only federal MP to attend a rally featuring controversial Dutch politician and anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders during his tour of Australia. Christensen said he supported Wilders' view that "people of dual citizenship who act in a way that is contrary to the values of this country and engage in extremist violence should have their citizenship stripped and be deported."[20]

In March 2013, Christensen told media that he wanted to see the death penalty introduced for serious crimes including murder involving sexual assault.[21] In May 2011, Christensen refused to back a motion condemning the death penalty and instead told federal parliament he supported the death penalty "for terrorists and for those found guilty of the most heinous of crimes - murder of a child, particularly those involving rape, murder of an elderly person or a person with disabilities, again particularly those involving rape."[22]

In May 2014 Christensen stated on Twitter that those criticising the 2014 federal budget should "do a tour of Asia & live like these locals", featuring a photo of an impoverished backstreet in a non-specified country.[23]

In September 2014 Christensen labeled Greenpeace and other environmentalists as terrorists, stating that they are "gutless green grubs" for opposing the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal in his electorate. In a speech to Parliament, Christensen said "the greatest terrorism threat in North Queensland, I'm sad to say, comes from the extreme green movement".[24]

In November 2014 Christensen claimed in an online opinion piece that Halal certification was "outrageous" and a "religious tax." He also claimed that it is “entirely feasible” to think some halal certifiers could be financing groups such as Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood.[25][26]

In December 2014, Christensen drew criticism after making comments on Twitter labeling the "I'll Ride With You" online solidarity campaign following the Sydney Siege as a "typical lefty (campaign) that falsely portrays Aussies as thugs who endanger Muslims." In another tweet, Christensen went on to state: "As I suspected. The #illridewithyou campaign is proudly brought to us by another #hatingwhitey lefty activist,"[27][28] referring to news reports that the woman who had started the #illridewithyou hashtag had admitted to hating white people.[29] The #illridewithyou hashtag was begun by her after the Sydney Siege, with dozens of people offering to accompany Muslim women on trains, buses, ferries and planes if they felt vulnerable travelling wearing hijabs and burqas.[30]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Nationals Parliamentary Team". Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "George Christensen". Candidate for Dawson. Liberal National Party of Queensland. 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  3. ^ Walker, Jamie (5 February 2010). "Dawson MP James Bidgood quits for health reasons". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  4. ^ "House of Representatives Division First Preferences – Dawson". 2010 federal election. Australian Electoral Commission. 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Mayne, Stephen (30 August 2010). "The power of Wilkie". Crikey. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Mckean, Bruce (28 August 2010). "Mackay to elect replacement". The Daily Mercury (Mackay) (APN News & Media). Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  7. ^ Schwarten, Evan (26 August 2010). "Constitution OK with councillor MPs". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "MPs put highway to the test". The Daily Mercury (Mackay) (APN News & Media). 17 July 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Bruce Hwy wreaks havoc on MP's car". The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) (APN News & Media). 17 July 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Dunlevy, Sue (20 September 2012). "MP George Christensen says draft Australian Dietary Guidelines on sugar are misleading". The Herald Sun (News Limited). Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Connelly, Claire (4 October 2012). "Federal MP George Christensen wants to bring Doctor Who to Australia". news.com.au (News Ltd). Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Connelly, Claire (17 December 2012). "'Bring Doctor Who to the Whitsundays'". news.com.au (News Limited). Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "Abbott defends candidate critical of Jews, gays, women". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 10 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  14. ^ Barry, Siobhan; Brown, Sigrid (11 August 2010). "Gay group accepts LNP aspirant's apology". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Welch, Dylan (10 August 2010). "Abbott dismisses candidate's anti-gay, anti-Semitic and anti-female views as 'colourful'". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  16. ^ Anderson, John (4 September 2010). "Christensen ready for the challenge". The Townsville Bulletin (Townsville) (News Ltd). Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  17. ^ Gordon, Michael and Willingham, Richard (22 June 2011). Blame religion for livestock torture: MP (The Age). Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  18. ^ Cullen, Simon (18 September 2012). "Australian protesters face deportation if charged". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Ireland, Judith (17 September 2012). "MP suggests removing child protester from parents". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  20. ^ "Tips and rumours". Crikey. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  21. ^ Scott, Steven (14 March 2013). "Mackay-based Nationals MP George Christiansen wants states to introduce death penalty by revoking international conventions". The Courier Mail (News Limited). Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "MP refuses to condemn death penalty". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 1 June 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  23. ^ http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/liberal-mp-george-christensen-tells-budget-complainers-to-live-like-impoverished-asians-for-perspective-20140522-38qxh.html
  24. ^ Bourke, Latika (25 September 2014). "Nationals MP George Christensen calls Green activists 'terrorists'". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  25. ^ Guardian Australia. "Halal products may be funding Islamist extremism, claims Nationals MP". http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/20/halal-products-funding-islamic-extremism-claims-nationals-mp. 
  26. ^ Christensen, George. "Terror in the Tucker Box?". http://www.georgechristensen.com.au/terror-in-the-tucker-box/. 
  27. ^ Courier Mail. "LNP MP George Christensen says #illridewithyou is a left-wing campaign after Sydney hostage drama". http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/lnp-mp-george-christensen-says-illridewithyou-is-a-left-wing-campaign-after-sydney-hostage-drama/story-fnn8dlfs-1227159972055. 
  28. ^ Brisbanetimes.com. "President Obama praises #illridewithyou to Tony Abbott as Liberal MP slams 'hating whitey' campaign". http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/president-obama-praises-illridewithyou-to-tony-abbott-as-liberal-mp-slams-hating-whitey-campaign-20141218-129icc.html. 
  29. ^ Breitbart (website)Breitbart: [http://www.breitbart.com/london/2014/12/16/sydney-cafe-murders-the-ugly-true-story-behind-that-heartwarming-illridewithyou-twitter-campaign/ Sydney Cafe Murders: The Ugly True Story Behind That Heartwarming #illridewithyou Twitter Campaign, 16 December 2014, retrieved 18 December 201
  30. ^ Brisbanetimes.com.au. "Martin Place siege: #illridewithyou hashtag goes viral". http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nsw/martin-place-siege-illridewithyou-hashtag-goes-viral-20141216-127rm1.html. 
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
James Bidgood
Member for Dawson
2010–present
Incumbent