Lambie's chief of staff kicked out of PUP party

UPDATE: SENATOR Jacqui Lambie has declared she wants all her staff to resign from the Palmer United Party, to form a "non-political office", after her chief of staff was removed from the minor party.

She made the comment after a divisive debate within the PUP in the past 48 hours, in which she criticised Clive Palmer's leadership and Mr Palmer asked her to challenge him for the top job if she was "unhappy".  

Mr Palmer said on Thursday Sen Lambie's chief of staff, former Queensland MP Rob Messenger, was removed from the party after making "false and misleading statements" about the party's other senators.  

Sen Lambie said she remained happy with her team, including Mr Messenger, and they were "100% loyal".  

She said she had asked all staff to "not be members of any political party" and Mr Palmer's confirmation of Mr Messenger's removal "saves him the trouble of resigning".  

EARLIER: CLIVE Palmer's political party has expelled Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie's chief of staff, claiming the former Queensland independent MP made "false and misleading statements" about other senators.

A statement from Mr Palmer said Rob Messenger, a former independent state MP in Queensland who has been running Sen Lambie's office, was expelled from the Palmer United Party.

The decision, Mr Palmer said he had been a disruptive influence within the minor party, which currently holds three critical seats on the Senate crossbench in federal parliament.

It comes after Sen Lambie's increasingly strident criticism of Mr Palmer's leadership of the party, and internal divisions over an independent tribunal decision to give Defence Force employees only a 1.5% increase, which Sen Lambie has said was a "cut" given inflation is expected to exceed the increase.

Mr Palmer said that "everything Senator Lambie says is really coming from her chief of staff".

"Senator Lambie is simply Rob Messenger's mouthpiece," he said.

"Last night our executive met and we have agreed to expel Rob Messenger from the party on the grounds of making false and misleading statements about our senators."

Time's up for Rob Messenger
Time's up for Rob Messenger

However, Mr Palmer did not detail what specific claims or statements Mr Messenger had made about PUP senators that were "false and misleading".

He also confirmed that Sen Lambie had not resigned from the party, saying he was "aware" of comments she had made in the media.

Escalating the divisions, Mr Palmer further said that if Sen Lambie was unhappy with the PUP leadership, "she should make a challenge, otherwise get on with the job of representing the people who voted for her".

Comment has been sought from Senator Lambie and Mr Messenger.

Lambie says she won't quit PUP unless asked by Clive

REBEL Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has refused to endorse the performance of her leader Clive Palmer or fellow Palmer United Party senators.

"One thing I won't do is lie to the Australian people and I'm not going to sit here and make my PUP senators or Clive Palmer look good when I'm not feeling that way about them," Senator Lambie told the ABC's 7.30 program.

"I won't do that... I just don't feel like they're helping me out. So if that means I've got to go it alone under the PUP flag then so be it, I'll just run it alone."

Senator Lambie and Mr Palmer have clashed over her call for people to turn their backs on Liberal MPs during Remembrance Day ceremonies to express anger about a controversial pay deal for defence personnel.

Mr Palmer said it was inappropriate to use such functions for political protest.

Senator Lambie said there was dissatisfaction within the party about Mr Palmer's style of leadership.

"I think that's a major issue and it should be talked about and it needs to be sorted,'' she said.

"If the party is going to survive then they'd better come up with a bloody better plan of attack than what they've been using."

Mr Palmer said earlier that he had not seen Senator Lambie for a couple of weeks, the ABC reported.

There have been suggestions that she may join other MPs who have quit the party.

But Senator Lambie told the ABC she had made a verbal agreement with Mr Palmer that she would not leave the party unless asked to go.

She maintained her right to vote on matters of conscience, including ADF pay and issues affecting Tasmania.

Senator Lambie said of Mr Palmer: "A party leader doesn't always get it right, let's put it that way.''

Mr Palmer  said he did not  expect Senator Lambie to follow through on her threat to vote against all government legislation until the ADF pay issue was resolved.

"She should be able to count though and realise the Greens have got 10 seats of the Senate... I don't know why her one vote counts,'' Mr Palmer said.



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