John Bjelke-Petersen.
John Bjelke-Petersen. Danielle Lowe

John Bjelke-Petersen quits LNP

UPDATE 4pm: The son of former premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen has torn up his membership of the Liberal National Party, claiming his late father would find it difficult to support the party he led for almost two decades.

A "disgusted" John Bjelke-Petersen announced on Wednesday he was quitting the party on moral grounds, citing the current government's "lack of support for regional Queensland".

But the Kingaroy resident refused to be drawn on mounting speculation he would join the Palmer United Party, telling APN Newsdesk he would address his political future in the "days ahead".

Sir Joh was a close friend of PUP leader Clive Palmer, and in September last year Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen publicly endorsed the mining magnate during his public spat with the party's leadership.

John Bjelke-Petersen put his decision to quit the LNP down to a combination of factors including the much-publicised public service job cuts and the imminent 22% electricity price hike.

He bemoaned a lack of "positive policies" from the LNP, adding the cuts to frontline services meant people in regional parts of the state were "doing it tough".

He said the cutbacks should have been handled through attrition rather than wielding the axe.

"When you do it in such a heavy-handed way you not only impact on the people you've sacked, but you also impact on small business people," Mr Bjelke-Petersen said, claiming people in his home town of Kingaroy were affected by the job cuts announced in last year's State Budget.

Mr Bjelke-Petersen said there was nothing in Tuesday's budget to boost to rural and regional Queensland, which he said "drove" the state.

"If you don't look after us it ultimately feeds back to everyone else," the Kingaroy resident said.

Mr Bjelke-Petersen, who unsuccessfully contested the state seat of Nanango for the Nationals in 2006 and 2009, also revealed he had resisted an approach from the LNP to play a role in last year's state election.

Shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt said Mr Bjelke-Petersen's decision was telling and was further proof the LNP did not care about regional Queensland.

But LNP state director Brad Henderson said the party had a "strong track record of representing regional Queensland".

"The LNP government is making great gains for regional Queensland in terms of green tape reform, vegetation management, the response to the drought crisis in the north-west ...opening up trade for our cattle producers," Mr Henderson said.

"And, of course, we're getting the budget back under the control, the legacy of which is hurting regional Queensland in terms of the money spent on interest that should be spent on services."

When asked whether there was no place for the Bjelke-Petersen name in conservative government any more, Mr Henderson said it was his decision to leave.

"The issue is we badly need a change of government in Canberra," he said.

"This is a government that's brought some of the most destructive policies for regional Queensland whether it's the carbon tax, the mining tax, the live export debacle, the budget debacle.

"This is a government that has been toxic to regional Queensland and unfortunately Mr Bjelke-Petersen hasn't seen that and he's made that decision."


EARLIER: The son of former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen says he is resigning from the LNP because the party has forgotten regional Queensland.

John Bjelke-Petersen followed in his late father's political footsteps to pursue a career in politics, unsuccessfully contesting the state seat of Nanango in 2006 and 2009.

But Mr Bjelke-Petersen announced on Wednesday he would follow the lead of friend Clive Palmer and a handful of MPs to resign from the LNP.

"I have decided that the LNP no longer supports or cares about regional Queensland, there is no priority given to regional or country people at all," he said.

"The current LNP policies only pay lip service to help get the government re-elected.

"In centers such as Mount Isa, Roma and Kingaroy and throughout regional and coastal Queensland, there are people suffering as a result of the government's neglect."

Mr Bjelke-Petersen said decentralisation had been "thrown out the window", jobs and services lost and as a result, he could no longer morally be a LNP member.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt told reporters in Brisbane Mr Bjelke-Petersen's decision spoke volumes about the state of the LNP.

Sir Joh's son is the latest in a string of party members to leave the Queensland party.

MPs Alex Douglas and Carl Judge resigned last year and have since joined fellow LNP defector mining magnate Clive Palmer's United Australia Party.

Mr Bjelke-Petersen issued a damning statement last year opposing the LNP's decision to suspend Mr Palmer.

Mr Palmer resigned from the party shortly after.

Condamine MP Ray Hopper left the LNP last year also and joined Katter's Australia Party.

Do you think the LNP has forgotten regional Queensland?

This poll ended on 05 July 2013.

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This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

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