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Liberal MP Craig Kelly stunned his colleagues as he told the Coalition party hall that he would step down from government and immediately step up to the crossbar as an independent

M Kelly told his colleagues on Tuesday morning that he would continue to support the government on procurement and confidence issues, sources in the room said.

M Kelly told the venue he wanted to “stay true” to what he believed in and to himself, a source said Sources in the party hall said he was “very kind and generous” to Prime Minister Scott Morrison

He later told Sky News Australia that he resigned with a “heavy heart” but could only speak “frankly” and “without fear” from the backseat

He said he had the “utmost respect” for M Morrison and hoped he would go on to become one of the most successful prime ministers

A government source said neither Mr. Morrison or his office had not been notified of Mr. Kelly

His defection to the counter-bench to sit as an independent reduced the number of government seats to 76 in the House of Representatives by 151 seats, meaning Mr. Morrison will need at least one of the counter benches to ensure ground support

Labor MP Tanya Plibersek and Liberal MP Craig Kelly clash as they pass each other in the Parliament press galleryCredit: Alex Ellinghausen

M Kelly, who occupies Hughes’ NSW headquarters in south Sydney, has been an increasingly controversial figure during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to his promotion of alternative treatments for the virus through his social media

Facebook post was banned for a week last week after violating the tech giant’s COVID-19 disinformation policy

Following a recent public clash with Labor MP Tanya Plibersek over treatments for COVID-19, M Kelly was ‘dressed’ by M Morrison, telling him that he could not support his actions and wanted him to refrain from pushing opinions that were contrary to health advice

M Kelly later released a public statement saying he agreed to support the government’s rollout of the vaccine

Facebook deleted four coronavirus-related posts from the official Facebook page of the MP for M last week Kelly, including one in which he compared the wearing of masks by children to child abuse

Since the formation of the Coalition government, Mr. Kelly has been one of its most prolific media artists and has openly criticized former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over energy policy

He first won the Hughes seat in 2010 following the retirement of Danna Vale and M Turnbull and M Morrison were forced to step in to save him from preselection challenges

It was revealed by The Guardian earlier this week that a staff member who is currently under investigation for alleged inappropriate behavior towards women is still working in Mr. Kelly, despite being the subject of an apprehended violence order

Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in Parliament in Canberra

Craig Kelly

World News – UA – Craig Kelly resigns from Liberal Party to rise to the crossbar

Source: https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/craig-kelly-resigns-from-the-liberal-party-to-move-to-the-crossbench-20210223-p574zq.html