Australia

Nationals MP George Christensen slams 'smear campaign' over Asia trips

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A Queensland Nationals MP maintains he is being smeared over his travel, as further details have emerged on how much time he has spent outside of Australia.

Federal Nationals MP George Christensen claims he's the victim of a "smear campaign" after travel records reportedly showed he spent 294 days in the Philippines over a four-year period.

The Queensland government backbencher also spent more days in Manila than Canberra for federal parliament in 2016 and 2017, The Herald Sun reported on Wednesday citing detailed travel records.

Nationals Member for Dawson George Christensen say he's been targeted by a smear campaign.
Nationals Member for Dawson George Christensen say he's been targeted by a smear campaign.
AAP

He spent 72 days in the Philippines in both years, compared to 51 days in Canberra in 2016 and 64 days in the capital in 2017.

In December, Mr Christensen admitted he was the person referred to in reports about a government MP making frequent trips to Southeast Asia which prompted Australian Federal Police to become concerned about potential blackmail threats.

But the member for the marginal seat of Dawson revealed he had travelled to the Philippines to visit his fiancee and her family several times since 2017 and had sent her money, while also helping to raise funds for a charity providing disabled children with wheelchairs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously defended Mr Christensen over the claims.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously defended Mr Christensen over the claims.
AAP

Claiming he was the subject of a "smear campaign" by a Labor MP and former senior government MP, Mr Christensen told the Herald Sun he funded the trips himself.

"As far as I'm concerned and the facts are concerned, this matter is over," he said.

His Queensland Nationals colleague Matt Canavan defended Mr Christensen's trips.

"I think this is a massive beat up that's an invasion of George's privacy as well," he told Sky News on Wednesday.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan has defended his colleague over the travel claims.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan has defended his colleague over the travel claims.
AAP

The cabinet minister noted Mr Christensen had undertaken charity work in the Philippines, but stressed the Mackay-based MP was highly focused on his electorate.

"George is an extremely committed local member," Senator Canavan said.

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