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Michael Johnson expelled from LNP

Updated May 20, 2010 21:02:00

Federal Liberal MP Michael Johnson has been expelled from the party but says he will contest the federal election later this year as an independent.

The Liberal National Party's (LNP) 16-member Queensland executive announced their unanimous decision on Thursday afternoon.

The Member for Ryan in Brisbane was accused of misusing his parliamentary resources in an attempt to broker a deal that would have secured a $12 million commission from a Chinese coal buyer.

The deal never happened and Mr Johnson said he would not have profited personally from the commission.

On Thursday morning Mr Johnson was called before the executive to explain his use of campaign funds and other financial irregularities.

He left the meeting optimistic about his chances, but the executive decided to expel him.

Mr Johnson says he is disappointed to have been sacked by his own party and plans to refer the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

"I've been in the Liberal Party for some 15 years. Liberal blood runs through me, I've got Liberal DNA, brought up a Liberal, my parents are conservative," he said.

"For me as a Liberal Party member wearing a Liberal hat to have been expelled by my own party is of course terribly disappointing."

Mr Johnson added that he would stand as an independent at the next election.

"Of course I'll be an independent because I can't be an LNP member, and everything that the Labor Party stands for is something that I completely repudiate," he said.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says Mr Johnson has been a colleague for 10 years and a hard-working Member for Ryan.

Mr Abbott says he wishes Mr Johnson well for the future but he will support the new LNP candidate in Ryan.

Serious allegations

Following the executive decision, LNP president Bruce McIver said Mr Johnson's conduct had brought the party into disrepute.

"I can assure you that we've been very, very thorough - that's why it's taken some time, because we believe natural justice is a very important part," he said.

"I would like to also announce that we will be standing a candidate in the seat of Ryan. We will be opening preselection for that seat, I believe, tomorrow."

The LNP is expected to endorse either Brisbane City councillor Jane Prentice or Seb Monsour, the brother-in-law of Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman.

The LNP's vice-president, Gary Spence, said Mr Johnson had used his position as the member for Ryan to further his personal business interests, and had used his parliamentary email to promote a transaction from which he would benefit.

Mr Spence said Mr Johnson had also "permitted members of his electorate office staff to attend to the business of the Australia-China Development Association, an organisation whose income has been applied substantially for the purpose of funding the member's travel and associated accommodation expenses".

One LNP source said the allegations were contained in a "dossier" that was more than 20 pages long.

On Wednesday Mr Johnson rejected the accusations of corruption, saying he was the victim of a "set up" by the LNP.

"At no time was I as an individual going to ever be the personal beneficiary of [the coal deal]. I would have received not one single cent - not one red cent," he said.

"It's quite disappointing that the Liberal National Party in possession of material has decided to leak this information and to not discuss it with me."

Signs of trouble

On Wednesday night, ABC Radio's PM program revealed it had been told that Mr Johnson's troubles began a few months ago when the merged LNP was vetting federal MPs and senators.

The merger deal stipulated that sitting members' pre-selections were protected for this year's election.

But the party nevertheless decided they should go through a candidate review process to ensure all met their responsibilities, including financial propriety.

In the process the party honed its scrutiny onto Mr Johnson and the way he has administered and disbursed party donations.

Mr Johnson is no stranger to controversy.

More than a decade ago, as he set his sights on the blue riband seat of Ryan, he was accused of branch stacking.

The allegations came to nothing and he eventually won the seat in the 2001 federal election.

Tags: business-economics-and-finance, industry, government-and-politics, federal-government, liberal-party, coal, liberal-national-party-queensland, australia, qld, brisbane-4000

First posted May 20, 2010 15:10:00

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