Craig Kelly’s standing with the Liberal Party has been made crystal clear after a public hosing down by the NSW Environment Minister.
The rogue Liberal MP who had been spreading COVID-19 misinformation and defying orders from the Prime Minister to stop doing so quit the party on Tuesday.
His decision to hand his resignation to Scott Morrison could have significant ramifications for the balance of power in Parliament.
The PM still has a majority of 76 seats in the 151 seat Parliament but when you account for the Speaker Tony Smith the working numbers on the floor are now down to 75 seats.
That means the vote is potentially deadlocked at 75-75 on contentious legislation.
Hours after Mr Kelly’s decision was revealed, NSW Liberal MP Matt Kean took a parting shot at his federal colleague on social media.
“Craig Kelly’s spreading of misinformation about COVID-19 and climate change and his disrespect for scientific evidence have no place in a major Australian political party,” the NSW Minister for Energy and Environment tweeted, before adding: “Good riddance.”
Mr Kelly earlier confirmed his move to the crossbench was a result of his disagreement with the Prime Minister over alternative COVID treatments.
“I have the greatest respect for Scott Morrison,” he told Sky News.
“I hope he goes on to be one of our longest serving and greatest Prime Ministers.
“I’ll support the government, naturally of course, on all matters of supply, confidence.”
Mr Kelly said it was rubbish to suggest he was anti-vaccination.
“I’ve been labelled an anti-vaxxer which is just slanderous smear,” he said.
As news.com.au earlier reported, Mr Kelly’s move opens up the possibility that Labor could stitch up deals with the independents and the Greens to pass private members’ bills and legislation without the governments support.
Greens crossbencher Adam Bandt said Mr Kelly will now have “even more power” over the PM.
“Craig Kelly’s dangerous crusade means the Liberals have just lost control of the Parliament,” he said.
“This makes the crossbench much more powerful, but unfortunately, it also means Craig Kelly as a crossbencher will have even more power over Scott Morrison.”
— with Samantha Maiden