Queensland’s longest-serving mayor and recognised advocate for the state’s north, John Wharton, says his suspension from the LNP is a pointer to the “sad state of affairs” the party is in.
Following his criticism of the party leadership in an article published by the Townsville Bulletin recently, Cr Wharton, mayor of the Richmond Shire Council, said he had received written notification that his membership had been suspended.
He joined the party in 2014 prior to contesting the seat of Mount Isa at the 2015 state election.
“I’ll be resigning,” he said. “If they can’t cop criticism, it’s a sad state of affairs.”
Cr Wharton said that instead of rapping him on the knuckles, they should have rung him and sought his opinion on the way forward, as someone who had a proven track record.
He has been Richmond’s mayor for 20 years and served on the council for 26 years.
“I’m the chair of the regional road group and the chair of MITEZ – I think I’m in touch with what’s going on in the bush,” he said.
He said that every elected representative – mayors and councillors as well – was subjected to criticism in their job.
Cr Wharton served as the interim chairman of the Developing Northern Australia CRC, and is now a board member, and said he had no problem with the way the federal Liberal-National coalition supported the bush.
“It’s totally different to the state LNP – they’re totally accommodating of the north, and get what we can do for the nation.
“You just can’t get the state opposition to talk about the north.”
His disappointment extended to the failure of the Member for Whitsunday, Jason Costigan, to be given a portfolio in the shadow ministry, announced by Deb Frecklington on Friday.
“Jason is one of one two LNP members north of Bundaberg but while Dale Last (Member for Burdekin) just fell over the line, Jason cruised in, yet he couldn’t get a guernsey in the shadow cabinet,” he said.
Mr Costigan unsuccessfully contested the LNP deputy leadership in last week’s party room ballot, saying he knew regional and rural Queensland as a fifth generation north Queenslander.
Tim Mander was elected deputy leader.
Cr Wharton said he had received a lot of private support from LNP supporters for his comments regarding the party’s performance in the election.
“A lot of LNP people are agreeing with me,” he said.