Page MP Kevin Hogan (Nationals) has been forced to defend his move to the crossbenches after he faced a potential challenge to his preselection during a branch meeting in Casino yesterday.
While Mr Hogan did not have to face off against a direct challenger, he did face a motion from the party’s rank and file to postpone the preselection vote until one could be found.
Mr Hogan moved to the crossbench after the deposing of former PM Malcolm Turnbull to express his concerns about the rotating door syndrome affecting the prime ministership.
He told Echonetdaily after yesterday’s vote that he was expecting the motion to defer preselection but it didn’t faze him.
‘There was a public report two weeks ago that there’d be a motion moved to basically extend the preselection process, which would give someone an opportunity to nominate and stand against me, but that motion was resoundingly defeated.’
He added that he was ‘quite humbled by the overwhelming support I had from the Nationals members yesterday’.
‘Some people don’t necessarily agree what I’ve done – others say “we wish the rest of the Nats had followed you”.
‘But overwhelmingly people said “Kevin we like the fact that you said what you thought”.’
While he defended his move, Mr Hogan does not deny it is likely to come at a price.
He said he thinks it’s unlikely he would be offered a ministerial portfolio should the Coalition be re-elected.
Asked if he thought this would hobble him, Mr Hogan responded.
‘What I’m doing is very unusual. You can’t do it in the Labor Party – you’d be expelled. I don’t know if the Liberals have ever done it either.
‘You obviously ruffle feathers when you do this but I seriously don’t care. If I was to go back to that day I’d do it again a hundred times. It was a principled decision.
‘But I’m still a Nats MP – I still advocate and lobby for our community through the normal channels,’ he said.
Call to ‘come clean on commitments’
Meanwhile, the ALP’s candidate for Page, Patrick Deegan, has called on Mr Hogan to come ‘clean on commitments he gave to local National Party members before [Sunday’s] pre-selection vote.
‘Kevin Hogan has received a huge amount of local and national media coverage for his so-called move to the crossbench,’ Mr Deegan said.
‘He has made several statements claiming that his resignation was a genuine protest over the behaviour of the Coalition government.
‘Given the angst this has caused in the National Party, what internal commitments did Mr Hogan make to secure his pre-selection?
‘Did he promise that he would return to the Coalition fold as soon the election was out of the way?
‘The voters of Northern NSW deserve to know if he has been saying one thing in public, and another thing in private.
‘We need to know if his resignation from the Coalition was real, or if it was just a cynical publicity stunt.’