ON THE JOB: John McVeigh is back at work in Toowoomba after a chaotic week in Canberra that led to a new prime minister and the Groom MP on the back bench.
ON THE JOB: John McVeigh is back at work in Toowoomba after a chaotic week in Canberra that led to a new prime minister and the Groom MP on the back bench. Bev Lacey

John McVeigh will take PM vote 'to the grave'

JOHN McVeigh will take how he voted in last week's leadership shambles in Canberra to the grave. The debacle ended with Scott Morrison as the country's 30th prime minister.

Embracing the sanctity of the secret ballot and with a commitment to confidentiality, the Groom MP has refused to reveal details of the Sunday phone call that ended with Dr McVeigh on the back bench.

"I will never reveal how I vote in a secret ballot because if I did, it wouldn't be a secret ballot and that is the tradition of the Liberal Party," he said.

"I will take to my grave how I voted in this important vote because it is a secret ballot."

Dr McVeigh, the former minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, said he supported, and continued to support, the "leader of the day".

He signed the petition for a Liberal party meeting to address the leadership speculation, but supported the elected leader to the end.

 

End of a tumultuous week: Groom MP John McVeigh

"I regret that his leadership had come to an end and that was the reality come Thursday night," Dr McVeigh said.

"His leadership had become untenable. We had to resolve it.

"I supported therefore having a meeting to resolve it once and for all, and how I voted in those party room meetings in a secret ballot I will not reveal."

Pledging "110 per cent" support for Mr Morrison, Dr McVeigh said his back-bench position was no detriment to Groom as he focused on local issues ahead of the next election due before May next year.

He refused to reveal details of a conversation he had with Mr Morrison on Sunday, after which it was announced he was no longer in Cabinet.

"If you have a confidential conversation with the prime minister of the country nonetheless, and you race straight out and say, 'guess what everyone, this is what I just discussed with the prime minister', I believe that is gutless and it's not being fair dinkum," Dr McVeigh said.

'Angry' electorate will be focus

 

John McVeigh MP back at work in Toowoomba August 2018
John McVeigh MP back at work in Toowoomba. Bev Lacey

THE voters of Groom are angry.

Before last week's leadership chaos, discontent had rumbled across the electorate since the same-sex plebiscite.

Dr McVeigh had taken the ballot result as "50-50" and, after consultation with leaders, voted to amend the Marriage Act with future Groom constituents in mind.

"The results on that particular plebiscite in Groom - people disagree with me, I know - it was essentially 50-50," he said.

That discontent bubbled over when Dr McVeigh was "challenged significantly and very aggressively" for Liberal party pre-selection.

"The ultimate test for me in that regard, and all the other issues in the electorate, there's exciting opportunities I mentioned, the challenges on which some people remain very angry, those examples I mentioned, including my approach to the leadership issue in the last week in a secret ballot and confidential discussions with the new prime minister, I will be tested at the next election," he said.

"Yes, I personally will be here in the electorate a hell of a lot more and I'm relishing that opportunity most definitely.

"I think for Groom, just trying to draw a line under what we've seen in the last week in particular but in recent weeks and months, people are really cranky.

"For me going forward, we have continued focus on some upcoming infrastructure projects and I'm very much looking forward to making some announcements in the very near future."