How ‘Member for Manila’ was nearly dumped
MALCOM Turnbull and Peter Dutton hatched plans to dump frequent flyer George Christensen as the LNP-endorsed candidate for his seat of Dawson at the height of their concerns over his constant travel.
The former prime minister and Home Affairs Minister - who were both briefed by the Australian Federal Police over Mr Christensen's large number of trips to the Philippines - are understood to have agreed the marginal seat MP should not be the party's candidate at the next election.
The revelation comes as the AFP has confirmed it inquired into Mr Christensen's regular travel, saying it "considers this matter finalised and will not comment further".
It is understood Mr Turnbull made Mr Dutton - the most senior Queensland member of Cabinet - responsible in late 2017 for ensuring Mr Christensen was not re-endorsed for the election.
Sources told the Herald Sun Mr Dutton agreed the Queensland MP's extended absence from his electorate over the previous four years "did not warrant being re-endorsed" and raised it with the LNP.
It is understood senior officials within the LNP were deeply concerned about the frequency of Mr Christensen's travel, but complained they were unable to move against the MP without knowing all the facts.
Both Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton declined to comment when the claim was put to them tonight.
Colleagues jumped to Mr Christensen's defence today, saying his travel was to visit his Filipina fiancee, April Asuncion.
But travel records show Mr Christensen had spent 205 days in the Philippines before the pair met in April 2017.
The Herald Sun can also reveal deputy PM Michael McCormack, who was briefed on the AFP inquiries, had ordered his colleague to end his overseas trips.
Mr Christensen has not flown to the Philippines since June last year and travelled internationally only once as part of a parliamentary delegation to Japan in August.
Queensland-based Resources Minister Matt Canavan hit out at "Melbourne-based media" for "doing a job on" Mr Christensen.
Asked whether the party had ever discussed disendorsing Mr Christensen for not being in the electorate enough, Mr Canavan said "not to my knowledge". Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday distanced himself from Mr Christensen's travel, saying he "hasn't spent a day in the Philippines since I've been prime minister".
"I can tell you it hasn't happened on my watch … I expect members to be in electorates doing their jobs."