Tensions within the ranks of the Palmer United Party have boiled over with party leader Clive Palmer expelling Jacqui Lambie’s chief of staff, Rob Messenger, and questioning the Tasmanian Senator’s priorities.
Palmer accused Lambie of acting as “Rob Messenger’s mouthpiece” and advised the Tasmanian senator to challenge his leadership if she was unhappy with the party’s direction, the ABC reported.
“Everything Senator Lambie says is really coming from her chief of staff,” Palmer said.
“Last night our executive met and we have agreed to expel Rob Messenger from the party on the grounds of making false and misleading statements about our Senators.
“If what she says about being unhappy with her party’s leadership is true, she should make a challenge.
“Otherwise get on with the job of representing the people who voted for her.”
On ABC’s 7.30 program last night Lambie criticised the party strategy and refused to support her colleagues’ performance.
“One thing I won’t do is lie to the Australian people and I’m not going to sit here and make my PUP senators or Clive Palmer look good when I’m not feeling that way about them,” Lambie said.
“I just don’t feel like they’re helping me out. So if that means I’ve got to go it alone under the PUP flag then so be it, I’ll just run it alone.”
Prior to becoming Lambie’s chief of staff, Messenger was a Queensland Liberal National Party MP and independent candidate. He also ran as a Palmer United Party candidate at the last federal election in the seat of Hinkler.
Lambie has become increasingly vocal in recent weeks, denouncing the government’s controversial defence pay offer and the way in which her PUP party colleagues have responded. She has said she will vote against all future government legislation until the pay offer is reconsidered.
The Palmer United Palmer party’s three votes in the Senate can be decisive in passing legislation through the Upper House. Lambie has already this year had to deny rumours that she was falling out with her PUP Senate colleague Glenn Lazarus, after talk that the independents in the Senate were trying to lure her into joining their bloc.