CROSSFIRE: Page MP Kevin Hogan currently sits on the crossbench in the House of Representatives when not in the Speaker's chair in his position as Deputy Speaker.
CROSSFIRE: Page MP Kevin Hogan currently sits on the crossbench in the House of Representatives when not in the Speaker's chair in his position as Deputy Speaker. LUKAS COCH

Hogan stands by leadership spill protest decision

PAGE MP Kevin Hogan has stood by the authenticity of his decision to sit on the crossbench in Federal parliament.

On August 24 the National Party MP and deputy speaker moved to the crossbench as a protest against the Liberal Party leadership spill.

However, he is yet to vote against any government legislation and this week Labor Senator for NSW Jenny McAllister slammed his move as "nothing more than optics".

"This is more than optics," Mr Hogan told The Daily Examiner from Canberra yesterday. "I am physically located on the crossbenches and if I'd done that as a Labor MP I'd have already been expelled from the party.

"I'm recognised by the chamber, the clerks and the speaker as a crossbencher. I go to National Party meetings but not Coalition meetings. I organise my sitting spot through the Labor whip Chris Hayes."

GRILLED: Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann was grilled during a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister over MP Kevin Hogan’s position on the crossbench. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
GRILLED: Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann was grilled during a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister over MP Kevin Hogan’s position on the crossbench. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING MICK TSIKAS

Earlier this week Sen McAllister grilled the Government's leader in the senate Mattias Cormann about Mr Hogan's position in the government.

"I don't think it is logically possible to be a Government member and be on the crossbench," Sen McAllister said.

Sen Cormann said Mr Hogan reserved his right to consider individual pieces of legislation on their merit.

"Mr Hogan, like every backbench member on our side of parliament has the right to make judgements on individual pieces of legislation."

"So he's just like any other Government backbencher?" Sen McAllister said.

"I'm comparing his capacity to and his wish to make judgements on individual pieces of legislation with the opportunity of every backbench member of parliament in the Liberal National Party, of which of course he has not chosen to be part," Sen Cormann said.

Nationals member for Page Kevin Hogan and Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a division in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, September 10, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Nationals member for Page Kevin Hogan and Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a division in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, September 10, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING MICK TSIKAS

When he first indicated he would move to the crossbenches, Mr Hogan declared it a matter of principle rather than a tactical move to influence decisions.

"In the Nationals party room, we were discussing how to help farmers, the drought and emergency services workers, while the Liberals were talking about leadership changes," Mr Hogan told The Daily Examiner at the time.

"I know I represent and speak for the vast majority in the community who view the Labor and Liberals' treatment of the office of the Prime Minister as a revolving door and this has to stop, because it is overshadowing the work of running the country."

Dr Kerryn Phelps celebrates winning the seat of Wentworth at the North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club. Picture: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images
Dr Kerryn Phelps celebrates winning the seat of Wentworth at the North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club. Picture: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images

Mr Hogan's view was confirmed this week when Wentworth, historically one of the safest Liberal seats in Australia, was lost to Independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps in the wake of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull quitting politics after the leadership spill. Asked if his outspoken position on the issue was vindicated, Mr Hogan said: "obviously I think people share my frustration with it".

RELATED STORY: Liberals play blame game over Wentworth loss

While committed to sitting on the crossbench until the next Federal election, Mr Hogan has said he would not vote against the Government on supply or confidence, and so far has not used his liberty to vote against any Government legislation.

"Kevin Hogan's claim he is a crossbencher rather than a Government MP has been uncovered as nothing more than optics," Sen McAllister said.

"Mr Hogan continues to vote to in the parliament to prop up the chaotic Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.

"If Mr Hogan's actions are anything to go by, I wouldn't expect anyone to believe he is even remotely independent from this Government."

However, Mr Hogan said he has not ruled out the possibility of taking a dissenting position or abstaining should he oppose any government policy.

"I very much reserve that right," Mr Hogan said.

"I would have to evaluate each piece of legislation on its merits.

"We're still very early days, about 12 sitting days. So far there has been very little contentious legislation. The only thing has been the Trans Pacific Partnership and I'm on the record as supporting that."

RELATED STORY: Kevin Hogan reveals personal turmoil after crossbench move

This week Mr Hogan said his stance was not "something new" and compared it to that of West Australian National Tony Crook, who sat on the crossbench when he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010.

However, the WA Nationals campaigned as an independent party which would not "report, answer and take direction" from then Nationals leader Warren Truss and at times Mr Crook voted with the Labor Government. By May 2012 he moved back to the Nationals benches in parliament, but still refused to attend Coalition meetings.

"My understanding is he still turned up to National Party meetings (while sitting on the crossbench)," Mr Hogan said.

At a Bexhill dairy farm, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud and Member for Page Kevin Hogan announced the Sustainable Dairy Products project with $480,000 governemtn funding.
At a Bexhill dairy farm, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud and Member for Page Kevin Hogan announced the Sustainable Dairy Products project with $480,000 governemtn funding. Susanna Freymark

Sen McAllister suggested the lack of "substance" in Mr Hogan's crossbench move would not be looked upon favourably by the constituents of Page, which the Coalition would lose if the latest polling figures were repeated at next year's election.

According to the Newspoll results, Mr Hogan would be one of four Coalition MPs to lose their seats in NSW, with a total of 25 dumped across the nation - including a wipe-out of 10 in Queensland.

"Mr Hogan needs to give his constituents more credit," Sen McAllister said.

"This insults the intelligence of the people of the North Coast, who rightly expect substance, not mere gestures.

"I'd back them to see past his optics."

The poll records a potential 3.9% swing against the government in two-party preferred terms in NSW, eclipsing Mr Hogan's margin of 2.3% at the 2016 election. But Mr Hogan insisted he will continue to focus on representing the community and not pay attention to poll results.

"Swings aren't always necessarily uniform," Mr Hogan said. "Given the national swing at the 2016 election (3.13%), if I had that swing against me I would've lost then.

"I've had the same attitude ever since I've done this job, I just do the best job I can.

"I think I've delivered a lot for the Clarence Valley and continue to make announcements that are good for infrastructure and our economy.

"I'll continue to focus on these community things. We have a wonderful democracy and the community will decide."

Mr Hogan sits alone in the front row of the crossbench, in front of a political odd couple, Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt, and veteran Queensland conservative Bob Katter.

Behind them sit three other independent MPs, South Australian Rebecca Sharkie, Tasmanian Andrew Wilkie, and Victorian Cathy McGowan.