Crook says poll misleading
West Australian federal MP Tony Crook has shrugged off leaked National Party polling suggesting constituents in his seat of O'Connor are unhappy with his independent stance.
Mr Crook, who took the seat from longtime Liberal incumbent Wilson Tuckey in August, has gone to Canberra marking out an independent WA Nationals stance from the federal Nationals.
The internal party polling in O'Connor, instigated at the federal level, was in an email leaked to the Kalgoorlie Miner newspaper this week.
The email from Nationals federal director Brad Henderson to Mr Crook, his chief of staff Marty Aldridge and WA Nationals campaign director Mia Davies contained results of polling conducted a week after the election.
They said 43 per cent of Nationals voters wanted Mr Crook to back the federal coalition, with only 19 per cent wanting him to sit on the cross benches as he indicated he would.
The email said that, with only a three per cent margin, "Tony can't afford to alienate the strong conservative base in his electorate by flirting with Labor or positioning himself as a de facto independent".
"There is a clear message here from the people of O'Connor to Tony: join the team and get some results for the electorate or risk being a 'oncer', with the seat going back to a new Liberal candidate at the next election."
Mr Crook said he had no reason to question the poll results but the timing was crucial.
"What you have to remember is that the polling came at a very critical time of an unbelievably extraordinary political time.
"I don't think anybody would be surprised at the polling.
"I campaigned strongly on an independent stance, clearly representing the WA Nationals."
Mr Crook said he had no doubt he had strong support in O'Connor.
"We just recently came back from the Albany show and we had a stall there, and the feedback was fantastic.
"A lot of people congratulating me for sticking to my guns and doing what I said I was going to do," Mr Crook said.
He said he maintained a "great rapport with the federal Nats".
"They understand that the WA Nats do it differently and they respect that.
"I know full well they would love me to be in the tent."
West Australian Nationals Leader Brendon Grylls backed Mr Crook, telling reporters in Perth he was doing an outstanding job taking WA issues to Canberra.
"Maybe you can do a poll now, three months in, Tony Crook holding the line representing Western Australia. There probably isn't a more prominent federal member of parliament at the moment."
Mr Grylls said WA Nationals did not believe in being "quiet and compliant in coalition".
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