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Messenger praises Hopper over defection

FORMER LNP and independent politician Rob Messenger has praised former colleague Ray Hopper after an announcement Mr Hopper had ditched the Queensland LNP.

Mr Messenger, the former Member for Burnett, said he expected more disgruntled LNP members to follow suit.

But Premier Campbell Newman said he was confident there would be no more deserters.

Hopper said he resigned from Queensland's LNP so he could join Katter's Australian Party, a party that he said would better serve his seat of Condamine.

His seat covers parts of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.

He becomes the third member for KAP in Queensland.

Mr Messenger similarly left the conservative party before the last election, criticising the LNP's leaders as he became an independent for the seat of Burnett near Bundaberg.

His seat was lost to the LNP in the March election.He described Mr Hopper's resignation as "a great day for conservative politics".

After Mr Messenger's election with the Nationals in 2004, Mr Hopper acted as a mentor.

"I know he has just tried as hard as he can to fight inside the tent, but like me, the stench in the tent has become overpowering," Mr Messenger said.

"You could see it was a blatant Liberal takeover of the National Party when there was the formation of the LNP.

"That means people in the bush lose out.

"When asked which politicians could be tempted to leave the LNP, Mr Messenger said any politician with a history in the National Party was a possibility.

Mr Hopper himself cast the net further afield, saying a number of city-based members were prepared to leave the LNP.

"It's far from just the Nationals," he said.

"I have told them, 'Please wait until Christmas. This decision should not be taken lightly, it can hurt you'.

"He said at least three or four would be gone by the end of February.

In a press conference on Sunday, Mr Newman said Mr Hopper had betrayed his voters and other LNP members would not leave government.

"People are saying that they're not, they're not going to let down their constituents in the same way that he has sadly chosen to do," Mr Newman said.

The LNP, he said, would find a candidate to take him on "not just at the next election but as soon as is practicable".

Topics:  campbell newman, lng, ray hopper, rob messenger



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