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Australia

Australian MP George Christensen slams ‘smear campaign’ over Asia trip reports

  • Police investigated politician over large sums of money sent overseas and a referral from a Labor MP, but said nothing he did was illegal
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2018, 11:20am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2018, 7:58pm

Queensland’s George Christensen has identified himself as the government MP who came under federal police scrutiny for frequent travel to Southeast Asia, but has dismissed the reports as part of a “disgusting smear campaign”.

Christensen’s statement, posted to Facebook on Saturday morning, came in response to media reports in recent days about blackmail concerns over an unnamed federal MP visiting seedy neighbourhoods overseas known for drugs and prostitution.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigation was prompted by the discovery of large amounts of money being sent overseas by the MP, and a referral from a Labor MP, who received information of concern.

Police assessed the referral and determined no crimes had been committed under Australian law, but fears remained about the potential for the MP to be compromised. The police did not begin any formal investigation of the allegations.

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Documents seen by Guardian Australia confirm the AFP conducted a security briefing for Christensen about his travel.

Christensen labelled the reports, which did not name him or the country he was visiting, as “highly defamatory” and part of a “disgusting smear campaign waged against me by my political opponents”.

“This whole matter is vile and defamatory, and impacts not only me, but my fiancée and my loyal staff who have been abused and threatened because of this putrid smear campaign,” the Nationals MP said.

The allegations to the AFP were vexatious and fake, made by a “senior Labor MP”, he said.

He also claimed to have been told the allegations were “mainly” spread by a former senior government MP and one of his former senior staff members. He did not identify either individual.

The Herald Sun reported on Saturday that the AFP investigation and inquiries by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade began “months” before the referral from the Labor MP.

In his Facebook post, Christensen said he had written confirmation from the AFP that it found there was “no evidence or other information to support the allegation, or establish criminal conduct”.

Guardian Australia has seen this written confirmation.

He said the AFP did not at any stage interview him about any matter “criminal or otherwise”.

When asked about the matter last month, the AFP said it did not confirm or deny the identity of individuals it might be investigating.

Senior government officials, including Martin Parkinson, head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, were reportedly briefed on the concerns about Christensen’s travel.