Occasional contributor Tom Payne is again calling out for help as the Queensland division of the Liberal Party goes from bad to worse with the resignation of Brisbane City Council opposition leader Michael Caltabianco.

Queensland politics still delights and intrigues me. I was particularly interested in most recently departed Brisbane City Council Opposition Leader Cr Michael Caltabiano’s ‘turn’ the other week.

What may just be small time, local government politics to some, is an indication of the ‘misunderstood genius’ of the Santo faction.

The story goes a bit like this. Caltabiano was declared an unconstitutional member of the State Executive, because no formal ballot had been undertaken for him to be elected to the 20 member panel. Easily fixed, ballot papers were sent out and democracy was put into play. Hooray for democracy.

Meanwhile, the legal wranglings between Tucker and the Santo-dominated State Executive hit the fan and Caltabiano decided to publish highly critical remarks about the West faction in the media.

Did I mention that Caltabiano is a Santo? No? Well he is.

Besides Caltabiano being the local government rep, and the comments he was making were really outside his realm as opposition leader in the Council, four of his eight caucus come from the West faction and happen to agree with Tucker and support his moves to keep his very democratic preselection.

Apart from that, I’m a bit of a ‘win’ fanatic. I’d like to ‘win’ just one election anytime soon. So why waste all that great name ID that was generated during the by-election? (Could someone kindly explain what name ID means to those idiots trying to roll Tucker?)

The party room said to Caltabiano that they liked his leadership and they appreciated his ability and wanted him as leader, but could he lay off criticising the West faction please? You know, for the sake of unity. Oh, and by the way, could you report back from State Executive what’s going on just so we know, please?

In the spirit of Santo, he said: “No. I don’t want to.”

So the party room said (I sound like an old gossip don’t I?) well, you can stay on as our leader but we’ll put Cashman on as representative for the State Executive. That way you can’t talk about us like we’re troublemakers and she’ll tell us what’s going on.

The next thing you know, Caltabiano’s called the press conference saying he’d been dumped as leader and everyone is calling it a coup de tat.

At the next party room meeting, the West faction moved a motion to not accept Caltabiano’s resignation. A motion he refused to accept. (Surely this is a first in the history of leadership in the Liberal Party? I’m resigning. No don’t resign. Stay on. No I’m resigning. Look we won’t accept your resignation. I don’t accept you’re not accepting my resignation, I’m resigning. Don’t resign and so on.)

So what does this all mean? Well for a start, the people who advised Santo to resign that time Watson called him a prima donna, are obviously out there giving their high quality advice to Caltabiano. This ought to give his career the impetus of a lead zeppelin.

It’s been reported the Hindenburg of the North, Tim Nicholls (because he’s the size of a blimp and has just as much hot air) has been giving Caltabiano advice.

Nicholls is a Santo prote51ge51 and has been a part of the Santo Youth since he was in short pants.

This is why I love the Santo faction, they don’t actually learn from their mistakes. We all saw how the old resignation trick worked for Santo, and now it’s doing wonders for Caltabiano.

Some say that by resigning now, Caltabiano may be setting himself up to run state seat, and that seat would be Moggill.

This is where current sitting member (and one of the beach volleyball team left in State parliament thanks to the most excellent campaigning talents on State Executive) David Watson shouldn’t worry. Ok Johnson and Boland seem to have formed an uneasy alliance and the numbers may tumble against him. But one of them will surely stab the other in the back sooner or later. That’s their way. Can’t help themselves, in fact. I’ve got $20 on Boland doing it to Johnson.

On the other hand, look at the quality of advice Caltabiano’s been getting so far, it’s on a par with the Rhino park idea.

And Queensland’s media? Unfortunately they’re being played like an orchestra. They’ve swallowed Caltabiano’s line, and they’re nailing him to the cross.

Just because you’re not being briefed by Santo himself, doesn’t mean you’re not being briefed by one of his proxies.

Tom Payne

Peter Fray

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