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Former LNP minister defects to One Nation

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UPDATED: Former Queensland racing minister Steve Dickson has defected from the Liberal National Party to One Nation.

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The member for Buderim announced he was jumping ship at a press conference with Pauline Hanson in his electorate this morning.

Dickson cited his wish for an amnesty for medical cannabis users as a key factor in his decision.

He said his appeals for action on the matter fell on deaf ears in the major political parties and Senator Hanson was the only one willing to take up the issue.

“A young lady who was in my office, just this Monday gone, has a brain tumour and was using this exact same product so that she can stay alive,” he said.

“I called on the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk and also the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull over a week ago to grant amnesty, so that these people can access this life-saving drug to keep their children alive.”

Hanson has been advocating for medical cannabis to be legalised and this week appealed to Turnbull to intervene and deliver an amnesty.

Dickson, who was racing minister in the Newman government, emailed his former LNP colleagues to notify them of his defection on Friday morning.

He said both the LNP and Labor were out of touch with the electorate.

“The major parties have lost their way, now we have a chance to step up to the plate,” he said.

anson said there were no deals done to get Mr Dickson to join her party.

“I believe that it was just through sheer frustration that Steve felt that he was not being able to be a voice for the people of Queensland in his electorate,” she said.

The Senator said Dickson was concerned about much more than just an amnesty for medicinal cannabis users.

“He has spoken to me about so many other issues as well, that we need to see Queensland move forward,” she said,

“It is stagnating … there’s no foresight or vision or leadership that’s coming from (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk and neither does (Opposition Leader) Tim Nicholls have it.”

Dickson’s defection means One Nation now has a representative on the Queensland’s powerful crossbench, though Hanson says he will not immediately be appointed as the party’s state leader.

It also reduces the LNP’s numbers to 41 in the state’s hung parliament, putting it behind Labor’s 42 seats.

Meanwhile, Hanson has not ruled out sacking a One Nation candidate whose website published a conspiracy-laden article about a refugee Syrian toddler found lying dead on a Turkish beach and a claim the Port Arthur massacre was fabricated.

Peter Rogers, the party’s candidate for the Queensland state electorate of Mulgrave, published an article on his website under the headline “The Drowned Boy, the lie that changed the world”.

Rogers claims the post was written by a friend and his website now redirects to a page operated by a man called Paul who claims to have built the site and says One Nation has pressured him to shut it down.

Hanson says she is looking into the matter and would sack Rogers if necessary.

“I have the highest standards that I want from my candidates and I will make the decision if he’s up to the job; if not, he won’t be there.”

Tasmanian Greens senator Nick McKim says Hanson also needs to apologise over the Port Arthur comments.

“She should not only sack Mr Rogers as a candidate, but she needs to apologise particularly to the Tasmanian people, for comments that are just breathtaking in their insensitivity around something that was such a terrible and tragic event for Tasmania,” McKim told the ABC.

The controversial post claims three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, who drowned in 2015 while trying to reach Greece, was “alive and well”.

It suggests the incident, along with the Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were shot dead in 1996, were made up.

“The greatest social changes that happen in Australia are founded on total lies and a fabricated incident. Look at Port Arthur,” the post reads.

The page now redirects to a site called novamagic.com.au, where someone identifying only as Paul claims One Nation knew about the website many months ago and offered no objections, and Hanson had viewed it herself very recently.

“Pauline Hanson looked at the site only 24 hours previous to this page being written; as far as I am aware the only comment made was to be careful. This was in a telephone conversation with Peter and at no time did Pauline say shut down the website,” the page says.

The author said a One Nation representative had emailed him, instructing him to pull down the website because it was unauthorised, but he’d refused.

A spokesman for Hanson has denied the claims, saying there is “no truth” to them.

– AAP

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