The Ryan preselection vote is shaping up to be a corker. Hillary Bray brings us all the stacking action from ringside.

In the red corner The former bedraggled champion, who is a bit punch-drunk after taking one too many blows – the former President and failed FEC Chairman candidate, Bob Tucker. He has the buses ready to run to the nursing homes, and he has the dirty tricks bag out. Word has it that Bob Tucker has employed professional telephone canvassers to call preselectors on his behalf. Apparently, his people want to keep a mile away from the preselectors.

Some people are running the line that Tucker would make a far better Senator than a House of Reps Member. Others sources are more blunt, saying he can’t communicate with ordinary people and would make John Moore look like a strong local member. His supporters, however, are claiming the imprimatur of the Rodent, claiming Tucker will go straight in to the cabinet. However, as he’s only five years younger than the man he seeks to replace, Tucker hardly reflects Howard’s supposed generational change that saw Moore and Herron dumped from the Ministry. Canberra’s position on the Ryan preselection is pretty well known – anyone except Johnson. .At 58, does Tucker have the ticker for the fight?

In the yellow corner Michael Johnson, young hot-head up for his first real bout, has energetically, crossed and counter-punched with a six page CV, listing his speaking engagements, his high school awards and his many junkets overseas. He even enclosed a school piccie for added effect. But you have to worry about some of the openings for his letters – now some people have been saying a lot of nasty, nasty things about me, but really, they aren’t true.

Johnson is buoyed by rumours that the back row will be full of his “pensioners”, with the Party wimping out on knocking out Johnson’s millionaire mates who can only afford to pay the party $12 membership per annum.

A Miss Bonita Chan will be making her first trip to Australia, from Hong Kong, to vote for Michael Johnson. But what’s she going to spend the frequent flyer points on? Maybe the Liberal Party could offer Membership rewards by allowing members to pay for their Party memberships in frequent flyer points. The question really is how someone who has never lived in Australia, who doesn’t have any interest in Australia, can get a say in choosing the next member for Ryan.

In the dark corner Matt Boland – young, experienced in the ring, but will he be a stayer ? Can he compete with the nursing homes or with the invading Mongol hordes? Some insiders say Boland’s campaign is running off the rails due to his commitment to the unwinnable state campaign in Ashgrove. Interestingly, even the Tucker camp seemed persuaded (or maybe they’re chasing preferences?) by Boland’s credentials, saying he will be the next member for Ryan, after Bob Tucker. Still, he could be the man left standing.

Every war has its causalities. Truth is usually the first – and died here long ago – but former FEC Chair and staffer to everyone, David Fraser, and party new member, Rob Sale, have pulled out.

Outside the ring, but claiming to be at the fight, Peter McKenzie already sounds punch drunk. Just look at one par of his letter to preselectors: “I see a clear and present danger to Australia’s security, sovereignty, and strategic well being and I have a real concern for the military and economic defence as well as the structural re-consolidation of our island/continent in the medium to longer term in this new and uncertain post Cold War environment of national and corporate repositioning, globalisation and wholesale outsourcing”. Hillary hopes he doesn’t repeat it in his speech – he’ll lose his breath and collapse and won’t be able to count on anyone giving him mouth to mouth!

Rumour has it that no-hoper Astrid Valati has spent $10,000 hiring a professional public relations firm to run his campaign. But given that his efforts so far are limited to a couple of amateurish letters and traipsing around the branches with the other hopefuls, this seems doubtful. All the chutney-maker has been able to offer during the campaign is leaks – with spice.. Still, he’s in a buoyant mood besides being outside the bout and has enjoyed the trip to the arena.

Ian Runge thought it was a chess match, not a boxing match, so forgot his mitts. No loss there. As for Bruce Flegg, well – have ambition, will travel – nowhere – is about all you can say..

In an amazing last minute rush, Ryan is to receive yet another large branch stack, increasing its size by a further 10 per cent. Some 120 transfer forms were submitted to Party Headquarters in one morning by one person to move 120 members from the Nambour branch on the Sunshine Coast, 200 kilometres back to Bob Tucker’s branch, Kenmore, in Ryan.

With a little over 30 of the members actually living in Ryan and the balance coming from Western Queensland, elsewhere throughout Brisbane, convenience could hardly be the factor. And who are the conductors of this symphony of electoral high jinks – two preselection candidates. Kenmore branch supremo, Bob “I can feign indignation at branch stacking as good as the next man” Tucker is the brains behind the operation. He is ably assisted by candidate for where-ever-there-is-a-seat-going, Dr Christian Rowan, former aspirant for Fairfax preselection, Noosa preselection, Dickson preselection, and almost candidate for Ryan preselection.

Tucker has reportedly promised Rowan votes for the Dickson preselection (which he won’t win) and a fall-back State seat in Ryan, if Beanland or Watson go, after what Tucker sees as the inevitable State election loss. In exchange, Tucker will get votes towards the Ryan preselection for the general election, within the Party organisation and for any other State vacancies. It’s great to see the vote of confidence from Watson’s (part-time) campaign director, Tucker, so near to the election.

The member for members

The Sheppardson Inquiry exposed the bare facts of Queensland politics – so it should come as no surprise that a stripper is amongst the candidates for the state election.

Jody Moore – described as one of “Brisbane’s best dancers, performers and models” and amongst “the best striptease performers in Brisbane and the Gold Coast” AND a former People cover girl – is running in rorter Mike Kaiser’s old seat of Woodridge.

Details of Jody’s policies and a screensaver are available on her web site along with something never though of – nude photos of the candidate.

Hillary can ensure readers, however, that there is no truth in the claim that her campaign slogan is “Put a big 1 in my box”.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]