A disgruntled Queensland politician who could have brought down the state’s minority government by leaving the ruling Labor party has backtracked from a string of threats he made to quit.
Cairns MP Rob Pyne this week quit the left faction before indicating he’d consider leaving the Labor party if he wasn’t allowed more of a say in issues affecting his electorate.
The move would have devastating ramifications for the Palaszczuk government, which would be reduced to 42 seats in the state’s 89-seat parliament – the same number as the Liberal National Party opposition.
But Mr Pyne said on Wednesday afternoon that he was “feeling much more confident today” about staying in the party, particularly after Treasurer Curtis Pitt reaffirmed a commitment to tackle high youth unemployment in Cairns.
He also backtracked from comments that he would consider voting against the government, particularly on controversial lockout laws he has criticised for being potentially damaging to his tourism-focused electorate.
“No, that’s not my intention,” Mr Pyne told Brisbane’s 4BC Radio.
“My intention is to go down to Brisbane in the party room and advocate on these issues and hopefully get a good result.”
He said he was yet to hear directly from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to discuss his grievances after she told reporters on Wednesday morning she was “more than happy to give Rob a call this afternoon”.
Ms Palaszczuk said she didn’t call him earlier because Mr Pyne had made it clear he was going to stay in the party and it wasn’t a priority.
“So I’m sorry, I don’t understand what the problem is,” she said on Wednesday morning.
That’s despite Mr Pyne earlier this week saying he “certainly would consider” leaving Labor, having already quit the party’s left faction.
When asked on Wednesday whether she was concerned Mr Pyne might leave Labor, the premier replied: “No, not at all”.
Katter’s Australian Party state leader Rob Katter suggested he had opened the way for a possible defection after holding talks with Mr Pyne late last year.
“I have spoken with him, as I have with other MPs from both sides, about taking positions on issues that would contrast heavily with their party position,” he told The Australian.
“Those discussions certainly by their nature could end up being the start of the pathway of leaving the party.”
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said the issue was the latest in a string of internal dramas dogging Labor since it took office 11 months ago, including controversies surrounding former Labor MP Billy Gordon and former minister Jo-Ann Miller.
“They are just completely focused on their own issues,” said Mr Springborg, who added Queensland was hurting because the premier was “frozen” by indecision.