LNP left with egg on face as One Nation deal confirmed
DESPITE the LNP denying claims of secret deals with One Nation, it has been revealed an LNP staffer had been in talks with Pauline Hanson's chief of staff, James Ashby.
Monday night's Four Corners program aired a secret recording in which Mr Ashby told Queensland One Nation candidates he had struck a private agreement with the LNP for the two parties not to "slag off" at each other.
On Tuesday Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls, Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and Bundaberg candidate David Batt denied any deal with Pauline Hanson's One Nation, saying Mr Nicholls' chief of staff, Gerard Benedet, had never spoken with Mr Ashby.
But today it was revealed LNP senior policy advisor Peter Coulson did speak with the One Nation chief of staff.
Mr Ashby mistakenly said he received a phone call from the chief of staff, where in fact the conversation was between he and Mr Coulson.
In the secret recording, Mr Ashby told candidates he had a deal with the LNP.
"I've made a commitment to them ... that we will not go out there and slag them off for the sake of slagging them off," Mr Ashby said.
"I also kindly reminded him if they chose to change that agreement, we have plenty of ammunition on their candidates, which made him pull his head in a little bit."
After Four Corners went to air, Mr Nicholls responded on social media denying the claims, saying his chief of staff did not know Mr Ashby personally.
In an extended excerpt of the recorded phone hook-up released by the ABC today, Mr Ashby can be heard saying "I'm asking you not to go slagging off the Liberal National Party."
"Peter Coulson rang me this morning and reminded me of our agreement because he said to me we have been very kind to you and not slagged you off," he said.
In response to the revelations today, Mr Nicholls told the Brisbane Times he had been unaware of any deals and that Mr Coulson had been acting on his own.
"I learnt through a media report that a staff member has had contact with Mr Ashby," Mr Nicholls said.
"This staff member was acting without authority and has been strongly counselled.
"I have publicly ruled out any deals with One Nation and I re-state it again today."
The NewsMail contacted both Mr Bennett and Mr Batt regarding the revelations.
Mr Bennett reiterated he was not aware of deals going on and "that's for others to comment on".
"Governing is serious business and it can't be done on thought bubbles," he said.
"We won't be pressured into making any decisions.
"Quite frankly we don't really know any of these people and what they stand for."
Mr Batt did not reply by deadline.
The NewsMail contacted One Nation state secretary Jim Savage who said no candidates would be making any comment regarding the Four Corners segment or claims of underhanded deals.
"We're not commenting on that," Mr Savage said.
"No news there, no oxygen to it.
"None of us were on the Four Corners show and no one is talking on it."
One Nation's candidate for Burnett, Ashley Lynch, told the NewsMail he had spoken to his party but was advised to say nothing.
"I appreciate the call but I've got to be part of the team," he said.
"We want to push the positive note.
"So I can't talk to you."
One Nation candidate for Bundaberg Jane Truscott said she had no comment in regards to the matter.
Read the first story here: https://www.news-mail.com.au/news/one-nation-candidates-go-to-ground-over-secret-dea/3163049/