Rogue MP Craig Kelly has resigned from the Liberal Party but will remain in Parliament as an independent.
Mr Kelly, who represents Hughes in south Sydney, has caused outrage over the past few months by promoting unproven drugs to treat Covid-19 and calling into the question the safety of vaccines. He also denies climate change.
Mr Kelly announced his resignation at a party room meeting on Tuesday morning, telling colleagues he would still support the government to pass contentious laws.
Member for Hughes Craig Kelly and Member for Sydney Tanya Plibersek clashed in Parliament earlier this week
Earlier this month, Mr Kelly clashed with Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek in the corridors of Parliament.
‘My mum lives in your electorate and I don’t want her exposed to people who are not going to be vaccinated because of these crazy conspiracy theories that you’re spreading,’ she told him.
Ms Plibersek called him a ‘taxpayer-funded nong’ and urged Scott Morrison to ‘tell him to shut up’.
The Prime Minister then hauled Mr Kelly into his office, gave him a dressing down and told him to stop promoting unproven drugs on his popular Facebook page which has 100,000 followers.
Mr Kelly has insisted he is not an anti-vaxer but has cast doubt on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and previously said ‘I’m waiting for all the evidence to come in’ before taking one.
In early February he was interviewed on a podcast with former celebrity chef Pete Evans, who has been banned from Facebook for spreading anti-vax theories.
Mr Kelly has repeatedly endorsed the use of drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to treat Covid-19, even though reputable global studies have found them to be ineffective and potentially harmful.
He has also claimed that making children wear masks was akin to child abuse.
Mr Kelly (left) has insisted he is not an anti-vaxer but has cast doubt on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines
Last week, the MP was banned for a week from posting on his Facebook page and three of his posts were removed.
A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘We don’t allow anyone to share misinformation about Covid-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm.
‘We have clear policies against this type of content and will remove it when we become aware of it.’
Mr Morrison originally refused to condemn Mr Kelly, saying ‘he’s doing a fantastic job for Hughes’, before publicly distancing himself from the rogue MP’s views.
The Prime Minister told Parliament: ‘The views expressed by the member for Hughes do not align with my views or the views of the advice that has been provided to me by the chief medical officer.’
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the MP’s actions were undermining the vaccination effort and endangering people’s health.