A fight has erupted between soon-to-be elected senator, Steve Martin, and his party leader over his decision to take her vacant seat in Parliament.
Jacqui Lambie reached out to her elected candidate on Thursday who was found by the High Court this week to be eligible to fill the Senate seat she needed to vacate after it was revealed she was a dual citizen by decent last year, and therefore, ineligible for Parliament.
A Jacqui Lambie Network spokesman Glynn Williams said Mr Martin had refused an offer to meet with Ms Lambie and talk about his entry into the Senate on Monday, claiming he would speak in three weeks after he had set up his office.
Ms Lambie had wanted her number-two candidate to step aside and create a casual vacancy for her return, telling media on the weekend that it would be a show of loyalty and “personal morality”.
Mr Williams said he was asked to step aside as the Tasmanian voters had elected Ms Lambie.
“Instead, he has decided to take that prize, that opportunity, for himself,” Williams said.
“We’re calling on him to reconsider. He was thrown a personal, moral challenge a few days ago and it seems he’s answered it by taking it for himself.
“If that’s all the thanks she gets, it makes me sick.
“She offered to help him, he declined. She offered to work with him on legislation, he declined.”
Mr Williams would not say whether Mr Martin would be expelled from, or asked to leave, the party.
Mr Martin disagreed that he was being disloyal.
“I was approached by Jacqui to run for the JLN as a number-two candidate,” he said.
“Jacqui resigned from the Senate, which was her own decision, and that created a vacancy.
“She was aware that I was going along this course … and that I was going to take the seat as a JLN senator.
“I’m now interested in getting on with the job, representing Tasmania, and working towards the best interests of Tasmanians.”
Mr Martin said he would talk to his party leader once she was done working on the JLN’s state election campaign.
“I’m big enough and ugly enough to continue on,” he said.
Jacqui Lambie’s former senior adviser Rob Messenger was one of the first people to take to social media to congratulate Mr Martin.
“Steve Martin is a gentileman (sic) and a statesman in the mould of great independents like Brian Harradine,” he tweeted.
There will be a final High Court hearing on Friday at 9:30am which will officially give Mr Martin the green light to take the seat.
There will be another hearing along similar lines to approve the election of former senator Richard Colbeck, to fill the vacancy left by former Senate president Stephen Parry who also resigned last year for being a dual citizen by descent.