Hunter coalminer Stuart Bonds, One Nation's golden boy at the last federal election, has told guests at a campaign fundraiser that he could quit the party over its support for controversial new industrial relations laws.
Mr Bonds said he had "copped" abusive phone calls and texts since One Nation senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts voted with the government to pass legislation which could halve casual miners' compensation claims in class actions for working regular hours.
"Some of the phone calls I've had were quite upsetting, disturbing, and so I'm voicing my disappointment right here, and there'll be conversations had during the week about this exact thing," he told the crowd, which included senior party officials and One Nation's MP in NSW, Mark Latham.
"I'll determine the viability of my future based on the community. If it is not viable to run, I will not run."
He said he had met many miners injured while working for labour-hire companies who had been "screwed over the same way by the same lawyers, the same union, same employers".
Mr Bonds has presented himself as a strong advocate for mine workers and their families before and since the 2019 federal election, where he contributed to the shock 9.5 per cent swing against senior Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon in the seat of Hunter.
He secured 21.6 per cent of the primary vote, One Nation's best lower-house performance in 2019.
Asked how he could stand as a One Nation candidate in the next election given the party's support for the IR bill, Mr Bonds said: "This is part of the conversation I need to have. I haven't had the conversation with the guys and found out why, what happened."
The One Nation senators' support for what Mr Bonds referred to as the "help me bury the body bill" could undermine his and the party's hopes in the Hunter.
In the news
- Former couple plead not guilty to murder over Danielle's brutal death
- Fraudster renting home for $3400 a week
- PODCAST: Wayne Pearce on son Mitchell's 300th NRL game
- Singleton, Bulga peaks pass as Maitland prepares for Hunter river to rise
- Porter and Reynolds to remain in cabinet
- New coronavirus case emerges in Brisbane
If he quits the party, he could run as an independent in Hunter or the Senate.
An emotional Mr Bonds revealed at the fundraiser that his father had been nearly killed in a mining accident while employed as a casual 30 years ago.
"It fractured his ribs, broke his collarbone, fractured his skull. My father nearly bled to death in the bottom of that ditch.
"He had 11 stitches in the back of his head and had to undergo facial reconstructive surgery."
Mr Bonds also detailed the story of injured former Mount Arthur contract miner Simon Turner, whose campaign for accident pay had been championed by Mr Roberts in Parliament.
Mr Turner, who is leading a class action against labour hire firms in the Hunter, has said he is "disgusted" at the One Nation "betrayal".
Mr Bonds said the rise of labour-hire firms employing casuals in the industry had "brought absolute misery and divided the workforce".
"I've seen the pain, suffering, misery, heartache, depression, suicides, uncertainty, divorces, people missing their wives' birthdays, children's birthdays, spending Christmas in the mine, Easter in the mine, for years and years on end," he said.
"I am disappointed with the party's position. It's really cut me to the core. I think it has a lot to do with my personal distaste for this because of my father."
The CFMMEU has also slammed the new legislation, but Mr Bonds took aim at the union for signing enterprising agreements which allowed workers to be employed for "years and years without entitlements".
"I know the union will be sitting there thinking they've got away with murder, and that shits me more than anything.
"I did everything I could to head this bill off.
"I've been to Canberra multiple times, sent hundreds of emails, sat on the phone for hundreds of hours, been in offices I had no business being in, heard excuses and lies from people telling me that I had it wrong, it was all a mistake, everything was above board."
Pressed on whether his party had "sold Simon Turner down the river", Mr Bonds said he did not believe that was the case.
"What I am doing here today is expressing the absolute community outrage at what happened on the floor of the Senate.
"Malcolm and Pauline would have seen things, arguments and lawyers that I'm not privy to. I wasn't down there for all of it.
"I don't believe they set out to sell Simon Turner down the river.
"I don't believe that was Malcolm's thoughts at all."
Class action lawyers and the CFMMEU have flagged possible High Court challenges to the IR bill, a move Mr Bonds likened to the movie The Castle.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: