ONE Nation has called for Joel Fitzgibbon to resign with one-time Hunter candidate Stuart Bonds suggesting the MP will need to become an independent to retain the seat at the next election.
Mr Bonds, a mine worker who won 21 per cent of the primary vote in 2019 and plans to run again, said yesterday Mr Fitzgibbon's decision to stand down from the Opposition frontbench was a sign the veteran politician "knows he is gone".
"He's trying to turn around an oil tanker using his hands," Mr Bonds said.
"The party has picked a direction they want to go in and it's not Joel Fitzgibbon's direction.
"They've sort of sunk him in a way. He knows they can't win on that platform and they definitely can't win his seat again on that platform.
"I think he knows he is gone. His only hope was to steer the ship the other way, but they're not interested."
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts called for the MP to retire from politics.
"He cannot be effective sitting on the back-bench sulking over how Labor have lost their way," he said.
"[Hunter] constituents deserve better and he needs to resign."
"Mr Fitzgibbon's resignation from the ALP cabinet over climate policy is damming confirmation that Labor no longer represents blue-collar workers," he said.
Mr Bonds said the 14 per cent swing against Mr Fitzgibbon at the last election was "enough to make anyone blush" and he would likely contest the seat of Hunter again in the next election.
"The reason that I run hasn't changed," Mr Bonds said.
"The Labor party hasn't changed its direction and the biggest threat to the industry is still the politicians, and while that's the case I intend to step up and speak for the people in the area."
He predicted Mr Fitzgibbon would "step down" from his seat altogether before the next election.
"I've thought that since the election," he said. "That he would step down rather than [potentially] losing, and I think this is just a step in that direction, personally."