HE’S crossed the floor of parliament in Canberra for his political beliefs, but now Dawson MP George Christensen has proven he will cross borders and seas for love.
Mr Christensen, in a rare interview about his private life, has revealed he will wed his partner of 18 months April Asuncion after popping the question three weeks ago.
But the outspoken MP is the first to admit he wins “no brownie points” in the romance game, choosing to ask for Ms Asuncion’s hand in marriage over the phone.
Ms Asuncion, 31, hails from Quezon City in the Philippines, where she currently resides.
“I don’t want to get too mushy but she’s the one for me,” Mr Christensen told the Daily Mercury.
“Look, you know, the relationship has changed me, like any relationship does.”
The pair met through mutual friends at the beginning of 2017 while Mr Christensen was holidaying in the southeast Asian nation.
One thing led to another, and Mr Christensen soon found himself proposing over the phone, with Ms Asuncion yet to slip on her engagement ring – a white gold solitaire diamond ring.
“We’ve been dating so long, I thought well it’s time to take it to the next level or not at all,” he said.
“She was speechless for a while, which wasn’t good, but she said yes.
“April’s a very practical person and someone who is very down to earth.
“We’ve been together 18 months and at the start of the relationship it’s all that over the top romance that happens at that point, which it did… but now it’s a level of comfortability with each other and know that we’re right for each other.”
An archipelago of more than 7000 islands, the Philippines is a largely Catholic republic. Tagalog, the Filipino language, is the second most spoken language in the Mackay region behind English.
Mr Christensen’s interest in the Philippines stems from the large Filipino population in Mackay. He was appointed the Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of the Philippines.
“I took a greater interest in the country and that inspired me to take a self-funded holiday there where I met members of their congress, visited tourist spots and looked at some of the local charity work being done there,” he said.
Mr Christensen has travelled to the Philippines eight times in his life, but a moment that stands out for him is a trip in 2015 to Smokey Mountain, in Tondo, Manila, where he went to view the work of a charity. Smokey Mountain is a village built on top of a landfill.
Driving out of the city, overwhelmed by the smells and level of poverty, Mr Christensen said he learnt a big lesson about the country when he watched a young boy running with a makeshift kite.
“Happy as Larry, I thought to myself, unbelievable… we place so much emphasis on material culture and here are children living in situations that we wouldn’t even have nightmares about,” he said.
“[Filipinos] have very strong values around family, around community, around faith.
“And just good humour and getting on with getting on, and that’s what I really connect with.
“It’s not the first cross-cultural relationship that I’ve had, but given that she’s from another country, I think it’s made me more understanding.”
Ms Asuncion stayed in Mackay for a month late last year, meeting her future in-laws and seeing the sights, including being “bored witless” in Parliament House.
“I felt so much happiness… Mackay is a wonderful place with amazing people,” she said.
But the happy couple will wait a while before officially tying the knot, with Mr Christensen hoping to win back his job before he says ‘I do’.
“I have a little thing called an election campaign to get out of the way first,” he said.
And as for the prospect of children, Mr Christensen said it was one step at a time for now.