Chris Spence (politician)

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Chris Spence
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for The Entrance
In office
26 March 2011 – 6 March 2015
Preceded byGrant McBride
Succeeded byDavid Mehan
Personal details
Born (1974-12-19) 19 December 1974 (age 43)
Canberra
NationalityAustralian
Political partyIndependent (2014–present)
Other political
affiliations
ResidenceThe Entrance, New South Wales
OccupationPolitician
WebsiteParliamentary webpage

Christopher Edward Francis Spence (born 19 December 1974), an Australian politician, was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing The Entrance for the Liberal Party from the 2011 New South Wales state election until 19 February 2014 when he moved to the parliamentary crossbench and sat as an independent after the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard evidence that Spence may have breached electoral funding laws. He retired in 2015.

Early career and background[edit]

Before becoming an MP, Spence played a prominent role in what was dubbed "Iguanagate",[1] in which the then NSW minister for education, John Della Bosca, and his wife, federal politician Belinda Neal were accused of threatening and abusing the staff of Iguana Joe's restaurant in Gosford on 6 June 2008.[2] Spence provided the paperwork, and witnessed the statutory declarations of six employees of Iguana Joe's, which was presented as evidence against the couple.[3] The scandal resulted in Della Bosca being stood down from his ministerial position and Kevin Rudd, in his first incarnation as prime minister, ordering Neal to undertake anger management counselling.

Political career[edit]

Spence joined the Liberal Party in his 30s, working as electoral officer for one-time deputy Liberal leader Chris Hartcher. Before this he had been a member of One Nation, serving as national president of the party's youth wing and twice standing for the party at state elections.[2] In November 2009, he was preselected as the Liberal Party's candidate for The Entrance. His endorsement caused an uproar in state parliament over his former One Nation political involvement,[4] with premier Nathan Rees attacking the party over the choice.[5] Treasurer Eric Roozendaal said it represented a rise in extremism in the party and called for Spence to be disendorsed as a candidate. Spence himself has said that his involvement in One Nation was "a mistake" and claimed to have left the party when he concluded it didn't represent "the same values I did."[2]

At the 2011 state election, Spence was elected with a swing of 11.1 points, receiving 62.5 per cent of the two-party vote.[6] Spence's main opponent was Labor's David Mehan because the sitting member, Grant McBride, retired at the election.

In February 2014, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) commenced investigating the allegations of electoral runding irregularities[7][8][9] In response to the inquiry, the Liberal MP's Spence, Chris Hartcher and Darren Webber stood aside from the parliamentary party, even though they had just renominated for their seats, to sit as independents.[10] With a delayed final report from the ICAC not due before the 2015 election campaign, Spence and the other two MP's decided to not contest the 2015 State election and to retire from politics.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Four Liberals vying for Bennelong seat". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 November 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "One Nation candidate must go, says ALP". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 24 November 2009.
  3. ^ "Neal in hot seat as staffer Melissa Batten in police talks". The Daily Telegraph. News Limited. 17 June 2008.
  4. ^ "One Nation divides Parliament again". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 November 2009.
  5. ^ Jones, Gemma (26 November 2009). "Nathan Rees in trouble over manure attack". The Daily Telegraph. Australia.
  6. ^ Green, Antony (5 April 2011). "The Entrance". NSW Votes 2011. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Public notice". NSW members of parliament – corruption allegations concerning soliciting, receiving and concealing payments – (Operation Spicer). Independent Commission Against Corruption. 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Chris Hartcher resigns from NSW cabinet over ICAC inquiry". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Energy Minister Chris Hartcher resigns after ICAC raid on his offices". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. 4 December 2013.
  10. ^ Chris Hartcher, Darren Webber and Chris Spence step down from Liberal Party amid corruption claims. ABC News, 2014-02-19.
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Grant McBride
Member for The Entrance
2011–2015
Succeeded by
David Mehan