Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Stormy Times Ahead 'Macca' Couldn't Keep Party Defection Secret

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Stormy Times Ahead 'Macca' Couldn't Keep Party Defection Secret

Article excerpt

Byline: Elouise Quinlivan elouise.quinlivan@thechronicle.com.au

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he and Ian Macfarlane are still "mates" but he's too busy to come up the Range for dinner.

Mr Turnbull yesterday cancelled tomorrow night's Toowoomba visit; only a day after Mr Macfarlane defected from the Liberal to the National Party.

Mr Macfarlane said the phone call from the PM telling him he would not be at the sod turning dinner was a symbol of the relationship between them.

"He personally called me to say 'mate, listen I'm really sorry I can't do the dinner'," Mr Macfarlane said.

"I'm still a mate of Malcolm Turnbull's."

The dinner was planned to officially mark the start of construction on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.

A sod-turning event will now be held immediately after Monday morning's community breakfast at the Empire Theatre, before Mr Turnbull leaves again.

Mr Macfarlane lost his position as Science and Industry Minister in September's cabinet reshuffle to Christopher Pyne.

He said his plans to move to the Nationals, announced this week, began "within a week of the re-shuffle".

"It was a plan that if it didn't work, I would no longer remain in politics.

"It was this way or I would retire; they were the only two options I'd consider."

Mr Macfarlane said this week's announcement was not meant to be revealed until later in the year.

"Unfortunately because a number of people knew, someone decided to make it public," he said.

"I had a position within the government I was happy with. When I was no longer able to contribute through being a minister, I noticed a distinct drop in my ability to convey issues as forcefully."

"That caused me to make this decision."

He said his move to the National Party would not change his stance on policies for regional Queensland. …

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