A controversial MP is screening calls from some of his colleagues while going out to dinner with others after a polarising statement.
Divisive Nationals backbencher George Christensen has been condemned by some of his party room colleagues while having dinner with others.
Mr Christensen on Wednesday compared state and territory Covid-19 restrictions to the ruthless regimes of “Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Pol Pot” and encouraged “civil disobedience”.
“They used fear to control … In 21st century Australia, state premiers are racing down that familiar path, trying to out-tyrant each other, drunk on power … Sadly we’ve enabled it,” he said.
He was strongly rebuked on Thursday by deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud, who said he had tried to reach out to Mr Christensen but had not had any luck in getting through.
“I don’t respect those comments and I condemn them. I’ve tried to reach out to make my views clear to him,” Mr Littleproud said.
“I’ll continue to reach out to him and make sure he understands that.”
When Mr Littleproud was asked if Mr Christensen was speaking to “anybody” in the Nationals, he said party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce had been in contact.
“I think (they) had dinner last night,” Mr Littleproud said.
Neither Mr Joyce nor Prime Minister Scott Morrison have condemned Mr Christiansen’s comments.
Mr Joyce told Sky News on Wednesday that Mr Christensen was “a very competent, very intelligent person”.
“The Nationals pride themselves on being the most democratic party in the parliament. We’ll remain that way and we’ll have discussions,” he said.
Mr Morrison said as the son of a police officer, he believed everyone should obey the law, but he “would condemn any encouragement by any person in any place … regarding acts of civil disobedience”.
Mr Christensen sought to clarify his comments in the parliament on Thursday.
“(I refer to) reports and claims that I directly compared state premiers to Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Pol Pot. I wish to inform the House I did not,” he said.
“I said the path we’re on was troubling. If there is concern over any misrepresentation that I did say that, then that’s regrettable.
“Further, there’s been false reports in the Senate on social media and elsewhere that I called for and/or incited violence.
“I did no such thing. Never did. Never would. I abhor violence. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is expected to probe Mr Morrison and his government further on Thursday for a direct condemnation of Mr Christensen.