One Nation senator Pauline Hanson has hit back at fresh criticism about the influence of her chief of staff James Ashby from a candidate dumped over a controversial website post.
Peter Rogers, who was axed as the party’s candidate for the Queensland seat of Mulgrave on Friday night, claimed Ms Hanson and One Nation had fallen under the control of Mr Ashby.
“My personal view is Pauline is the puppet and he (James) is the puppeteer,” he told AAP on Saturday.
Ms Hanson took to social media to dismiss Mr Rogers’ claims.
“Regardless of what the media says, I’m the leader of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and I have the final say on who represents One Nation,” Ms Hanson said on Twitter.
Mr Rogers was dumped over a post alleging the Port Arthur massacre and the death of a Syrian toddler who drowned at sea which sparked a global outcry last year, were fabrications.
He says the post was written without his knowledge by a friend who has control of his website but agrees with the sentiments in relation to Port Arthur.
“I’ve always believed this is no way one man can do that much damage,” he said, clarifying that he believed the massacre occurred, just that it can’t have been the work of a lone gunman.
One Nation has now lost three candidates since December, when it unveiled a team of 36 to contest the next Queensland election.
But the party also scored a major coup with the defection of former Newman government minister Steve Dickson earlier this month, giving it a toehold in state parliament for the first time since 2009.
And its ranks have been bolstered further by the announcement another Newman government figure, former Thuringowa MP Sam Cox, had jumped ship to join the party.
Mr Cox, who lost his seat at the 2015 election after one term, will contest the seat of Burdekin at the next election, which is held by the LNP’s Dale Last.