Australian federal MP Craig Kelly has quit the Liberal Party during a party room meeting in Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday, over a crisis of conscience.
In his resignation letter, Kelly indicated that some of his recent conduct had “not helped the boat” of government go faster—referring to a sporting analogy he said was once used by the prime minister in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.
“I acknowledge that some of my conduct over the recent months has not helped the boat go faster,” Kelly wrote on Feb. 23. “However, at all times, I have acted upon my [conscience] and my beliefs—not political expediency.”
“My goal has only been to save lives and ensure that my constituents and all Australians were not denied access to medical treatments if their doctors believed those treatments could save their life,” he wrote.
Kelly, who is the member for Hughes in New South Wales, has faced a strong backlash from segments of the media and political opponents for sharing information about the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
One of his posts on social media included an article by Australian immunologist and COVID-19 expert, Prof. Robert Clancy, who said hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin could be used in early treatment strategies, along with vaccines, for optimal control of the virus.
In an op-ed for Quadrant published on Jan. 17, Clancy said that a sequenced multi-drug regimen would help to keep up to 80 percent of COVID-19 patients out of hospital if the protocols, designed by experienced physicians based on evidence, are implemented. He wrote that it would “effectively end the US, UK, Canada, and EU hospitalisation crisis.”
On Feb. 16, the politician revealed this post featuring Clancy’s op-ed was one of five that Facebook deleted. Facebook also removed a post in which Kelly shared an opinion from a pathologist that “paper and fabric masks are simply virtue signalling.”
Kelly was later suspended from Facebook for a week, with the social media giant—currently at-odds with the Australian government—indicating his posts allegedly violated their “misinformation and harm policy” by sharing information about hydroxychloroquine.
At the time, he told The Australian that the ban was a “dark day for freedom of speech.” He added that it would not stop him from voicing support of early treatment drug options.
The member for Hughes’ resignation comes one day after the Australian government officially began to roll out vaccinations against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged Kelly’s resignation, telling reporters: “We had a discussion a couple of weeks ago, as you’ll be aware. I set out some very clear standards, and he made some commitments that I expected to be followed through. He no longer felt that he could meet those commitments.”
“But I can tell you, my standards don’t change,” he added.
Neither do the standards of Kelly, who wrote in his resignation letter: “Therefore, I see that if I’m to continue to act in line with my [conscience] and principles, and the oath that I took on becoming a member of Parliament, and to speak fearlessly and faithfully represent my constituents, I have no alternative other than to resign as a member of the Liberal Party effective immediately …”
Kelly had previously threatened to quit the Liberals ahead of the 2019 election when he faced a challenge to his seat from within the New South Wales branch, but was saved by Scott Morrison, then a candidate for prime minister.
Senior Labor MP Linda Burney said Kelly has been a “thorn in the side” of the Liberals for some time.
“The government has the slimmest of majorities in the parliament now,” she said.
Adam Bandt, leader of the Australian Greens, and federal member for Melbourne, wrote on Twitter: “Craig Kelly’s dangerous crusade means the Liberals have just lost control of the Parliament. This makes the crossbench much more powerful, but unfortunately, it also means Craig Kelly as a crossbencher will have even more power over Scott Morrison.”
Kelly has assured the Morrison government that he will continue supporting it on votes in the House of Representatives, so long as they are consistent with the policies the Coalition took to the 2019 election.
Focus News: Aussie MP Craig Kelly Quits Liberal Party to Stand by His ‘Conscience’