The Queensland Liberal National MP on Thursday announced he would not re-contest his seat of Dawson at the next election, ending his controversial career in federal politics.
Into his fourth term, Mr Christensen said he had only intended to stay in parliament for three stints and wanted to spend more time with his family which includes Filipina wife April Asuncion.
“While I’ve been repeatedly encouraged by the party, my staff, my colleagues and my voters to run again, the reality is in the past year I’ve been separated from my family who was caught up overseas with the pandemic,” he said in a video posted to Facebook.
“They’re now here in the country so I want to focus more on them going into the future.”
He also expressed his frustration with the inability of Australia’s “broken” political system to make progress on conservative causes including enshrining religious liberties, safeguarding strategic assets from China and installing coal-fired power.
“Unfortunately, I’m not so sure anymore that these issues can be properly fixed by legislation and via the ballot box,” Mr Christensen said.
“The mainstream media and other cultural institutions in this nation, sadly, have the dominant influence over our politics.
“On all of these issues and more, I can potentially have a stronger, more unfiltered voice outside of our parliament.”
In the meantime, Mr Christensen has vowed to continue to support the Morrison government and won’t leave Canberra quietly.
“While I’m in parliament until the next election and while there’s still breath in me, I’m going to continue speaking out on the issues that matter, without fear or favour, or the need to get re-elected,” he said.
The Mackay-based politician was first elected to federal parliament in 2010 after spending six years in local council.
He came under fire for spending 294 days in the Philippines between 2014 and 2018 and later repaid more than $2000 after questions were raised about taxpayer-funded domestic travel being used to link up with overseas flights to the southeast Asian nation.
Mr Christensen also courted controversy in early 2018, refusing to apologise for a Facebook post showing him pointing a gun alongside the comment: “You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?”.
The LNP held Dawson with a 14.6 per cent margin at the 2019 election, with the seat now set to undergo a preselection process.
Dawson briefly slipped into Labor hands for the first and only time in its 72-year history in 2007 before Mr Christensen reclaimed the seat three years later.