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23 May, 2022

Entsch slams critics, vows to see out whole term

The re-elected LNP veteran says he won't be pulling the pin early.

By Matt Nicholls

WARREN Entsch says he has no intention of pulling the pin early and will see out his ninth and final term in parliament.

Critics of the MP were quick to predict that the Member for Leichhardt would retire early and force a by-election.

“These are the same imbeciles and brainless cretins that have been on their keyboards telling lies that the Australian government is signing over its sovereignty for our hospitals and health system to the World Health Organisation,” he said.

“It’s just absolute rubbish.

“I have kept just about every single promise I have made in politics and I will see out the full duration of this term.”

Entsch announced after the 2019 election that he would be retiring, only to change his mind and seek another term.

“Circumstances changed. I was getting a lot of people in the community encouraging me to run again and then COVID hit,” he said.

“The calls kept getting louder as they didn’t want Far North getting an inexperienced MP when we were one of the worst regions impacted by COVID. And we have a long way to go to recover.”

Entsch said if people didn’t want him to run again it would have been reflected in Saturday’s vote. While the Liberal Party was decimated in Victoria, NSW and Western Australia, the LNP held reasonably firm in Queensland.

At the time of writing, Entsch was winning the two-party preferred count 53.24 to 46.76.

He said this year’s election was the hardest he had fought since first running in 1996, when he won against Labor incumbent Bill Dodds as John Howard led a Coalition landslide.

“It was a respectful campaign from Labor but they sensed their chance and put a lot more work in this time around,” he said.

“It wasn’t like other elections. There was a lot of pressure on my team and they did a great job.”

AN ULTIMATUM

DEALS had to be brokered on both a political level and personal level for Entsch to run again.

“I was serious about retiring. I had made that promise to my wife,” he said.

“But when COVID came and I decided to run again, I had to have some tough conversations.

“I said to the Prime Minister and Treasurer that I would put my hand up but it was going to cost them two things.

“I wanted the insurance pool for northern Australia and I wanted the microgrid for the Daintree.

“I said ‘do those things or I won’t sign up’ and credit to them, they delivered.

“I’ve been calling for a power solution for the Daintree for 24 years and it’s now going to happen.

“The insurance pool starts this year, with a review in 12 months, and I hope that it’s a major success and can be used as a template for an insurance pool for fire and flooding in places down south.”

Perhaps the most difficult thing was convincing wife Yolonde that she would see more of him.

“How do I fulfil my promise to my wife and family that I would have more time with them? That was the toughest bit,” the MP said.

“I had set up an Angus stud on my farm (at Malanda). I made the most difficult decision and sold all of my cattle.

“I’m now agisting the bulk of the property so when I get up there and have a day off I can spend it with the family and not in the paddock.

“It was a big sacrifice but I have made a few of them over the years, I think.”

Entsch is referring to his decision in 2007 to step down for a term to spend more time with his teenage son.

“I remember making a promise to him several years earlier that I would take a break and spend that time with him,” Entsch said.

“A lot of people forget how much that cost me, not that I would change things.”

Entsch was a parliamentary secretary and on track to be a minister when he stood down.

The defined benefit pension was also scrapped, meaning his retirement prevented him from cashing in later in life.

“When I came back in 2010 I had lost that seniority as well,” he said.

“I was the chief opposition whip for three years and when we won back government I chose not to accept a portfolio because  I didn’t want to be tied to the rules of cabinet.”

Outside of the inner circle, the Far North Queenslander was able to push his same-sex marriage agenda, which was eventually legislated in 2017.

“I have always been true to myself,” Entsch said.

WORKING WITH ALBO

THE new Prime Minister is more than welcome in Leichhardt and Entsch said he would welcome him with open arms.

Anthony Albanese made a number of trips to Cairns on the election campaign but didn’t venture to Cape York.

“I’d love to get him up to look at the work we have done with the PDR and the opportunities it has created,” Entsch said.

“That’s a project that needs to be finished and we’ll need his help.”

Entsch said he had a lot of respect for the PM, a fellow 1996 parliament debutant.

“I wouldn’t say that we are friends, but we have a positive relationship,” he said.

“There’s absolutely no issue if we needed to travel together and discuss local issues.”

SPRAY FOR ACTIVISTS

WHILE they had no impact on the election result, Entsch saved his final spray for the far-left organisation GetUp.

Witnesses at polling booths saw GetUp representatives handing out food to Cape York voters and encouraging them how to vote a specific way.

“It was quite offensive … going out into our remote Indigenous communities and offering them bananas and packets of potato chips for their vote,” he said.

“They are not a political organisation, they are an activist organisation, offering baubles and trinkets.

“I’m glad to see their impact up here is less than zero.

“It is my intention to put in a formal complaint about them.

“They shouldn’t have a tax deductibility status.

“GetUp is not a political or a religious organisation – they are just a bunch of activists.


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