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Controversial anti-vaccine MP quits Australian gov't

(Xinhua)    13:30, February 23, 2021

CANBERRA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- An Australian Member of Parliament (MP) who was censured by Prime Minister Scott Morrison for sharing coronavirus misinformation on social media has quit the government.

Craig Kelly, the MP for the New South Wales (NSW) electorate of Hughes since 2010, announced on Tuesday that he has quit the governing Liberal Party and will sit on the crossbench as an independent.

The decision leaves the government with a slim majority of 76 out of 151 seats in the lower house of Parliament.

Kelly said that he would continue to support the government in Parliament but felt the decision was necessary so he could "speak frankly and fearlessly."

"I will support the government naturally of course on all matter of supply, confidence, there's nothing that I can see that's on the agenda papers that I'm going to be objecting too strenuously on what the government is doing," he said.

"But I just feel that if I'm to speak out and to use my voice the best I can that this is the best decision for myself and the people I represent."

Kelly has repeatedly used his official social media channels to cast doubt over the safety of coronavirus vaccines and advocate for malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19.

In February the prime minister asked him to stop spreading information that contradicted the government's official medical advice.

Morrison said on Tuesday that the government would "continue to function" without Kelly.

"(Craig and I) had a discussion a couple of weeks ago as you'll be aware," he told reporters.

"I set out some very clear standards and he made some commitments that I expected to be followed through on.

"He no longer felt that he could meet those commitments, but I can tell you, my standards don't change."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Meng Bin, Liang Jun)

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