Senator Sam McMahon resigned from the Northern Territory’s Country Liberal Party (CLP) on Friday, saying that a number of formal complaints she made to management were ignored.
This comes after McMahon was overlooked as the CLP’s top candidate for the Senate at the next federal election, with Jacinta Nampijinpa Price being preselected for the job in June last year.
However, in a statement issued on Monday, McMahon said that there were several unresolved issues beyond the preselection, including “formal complaints lodged with the management committee that have not garnered a response, let alone an acknowledgement.”
“I feel I no longer have confidence in the CLP,” McMahon said.
She didn’t elaborate on the nature of the complaints, but CLP Party President Jamie Di Brenni told Mix 104.9 on Monday that while he hadn’t heard McMahon’s statement, there are issues, and there was an acknowledgement that they were being dealt with.
“The complaint is in regards to issues that Sam has had with people inside the party, individuals inside the party, and that’s going to be dealt with,” he said.
“We have to get a response; that’s an internal thing.”
Di Brenni said he was not going to badmouth Sam because he has a lot of respect for her.
“She represented our emblem that we gave her the privilege to do for three years, and I’m going to respect her for that … as long as I know her,” he said.
McMahon said the resignation hadn’t been an easy decision and one which she’d been wrestling with in recent times.
“It brings to an end a 30-year association,” she said.
“My intention regarding the next election will become clearer as the date draws closer.”
As for the newly independent senator’s political future, McMahon said she doesn’t have any plans for her future politically or otherwise and intends to continue pursuing her private senator’s bill, which ensures Northern Territory rights when parliament returns.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce told Sky News on Sunday that he, the president of the Nationals, Di Brenni, and McMahon have discussed the issue, and McMahon will remain a member of the government in the Nationals room, most likely as an independent.
“But what are we talking about? We’re talking about something very close towards the end of parliament before we go to an election, so I don’t think this is a dramatic issue,” Joyce said.
McMahon’s resignation means that the CLP no longer has a representative in federal parliament, which may impact its ability to stay registered as a federal party.
ABC News reported that the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has confirmed that without a sitting member in parliament, the CLP might be required to prove that it has at least 1,500 members in order to stay registered.
“We’ll review the circumstances of any party where we understand they used to be a parliamentary party and are no longer,” AEC spokesman Evan Ekin-Smyth said.
“So, what we do is we look at those circumstances and determine if they need to provide a membership list and meet the requirement of 1,500 members.”
However, while Di Brenni didn’t confirm how many members the CLP has, he said that having a certain number of members shouldn’t come into it.
“No, we are actually associated with the Nationals Australia, which is Australia-wide; it’s an association act,” he said.
“That’s my understanding. With that, we’re compliant.”