George Christensen pictured for Good Weekend. Photo: Andrew MearesGeorge has been loose in the top paddock for a while now.
Free-range, you might call him.
That he’s been the very fellow, however, whose job was to round up oddballs just like him and give them a touch of the lash unless they fall into line apparently didn’t occur to anyone in The Nationals as peculiar.
Well, it wouldn’t, would it? Barnaby Joyce, after all, is the actual leader of The Nationals.
George Christensen is a bit special, of course.
No one else in Parliament, surely, wears a giant full-colour tattoo of the Madonna and Child on his giant upper arm (he got it at a place called Mad Monk Tattoo, no relation to an Abbott).
It seems unlikely anyone else on the backbench who once wanted to become a Catholic priest has converted to the Antiochian Orthodox Church because the Catholics aren’t conservative enough, either. But there it is.
You’d imagine George is going to miss his whip now that he’s quitting as whip.
You read that right.
He fairly rejoiced in carrying around an actual stockwhip during his period as whip of The Nationals, the job that required him to exert on his colleagues the sort of discipline that he would never impose upon himself.
When he posed with his whip for a profile by Matthew Knott in Fairfax Media’s Good Weekend late last year, the picture very nearly broke the internet.
Comedian Magda Szubanski tweeted that “I know what my next film role is! I will play George Christensen in bio-pic of his life as a closet S&M lesbian.” George chose that as his favourite response to the photo. True story.
This then, is the man who stands between Malcolm Turnbull holding government by a sliver and finding himself astride a hung Parliament.
Yes, indeed. The bloke with the Mad Monk Tattoo of the Madonna and Child and the stockwhip could bring down a government if he hoofed it out of the Queensland Liberal National Party and stood as an independent, like his fellow Trumpist Cory Bernardi, or worse, joined Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, which often seems to be his natural home.
But he says he’s going nowhere, and so does Barnaby.
You’d have to believe them.
George, if he quit this nervy-as-a-horse government, could never hope to gain more attention or be granted such wild privilege elsewhere.
He might behave as if he’s loose in the top paddock, but he’s perfectly content out there on the free range, even without a whip.