I do not
want to get into a boring detailed argument with Martin Hirst but I
must make two points. First, my piece (item 22, Monday) never doubted
that there would be separate Liberal and National tickets in Queensland
in 2007.

What I did say was that if there were to be a joint
ticket it would simply confirm the status quo with the re-election of
Santoro, Macdonald and Boswell. I agree with Hirst that a joint ticket
“ain’t gonna happen buddy.”

important claim is this: the
sole reason why the Liberals won three Queensland Senate seats in 2004
was that Howard joined the Liberal campaign. All the evidence will be
available when I present my paper on “The Howard Decade” in March.

know that there were two reasons why Howard did that. The first was
that no incumbent National was standing. The second was that he
realised the possibility that his joining the campaign could result in
three Liberals and one National being elected – thus giving the
Coalition a Senate majority.

I’m quite sure that if the National Party selects
Boswell again Howard would refuse to join the Liberal Senate campaign. The reason for his refusal would be that
Howard is not in the business of knocking Boswell off – in favour of
some trendy Queensland Liberal. And Boswell, as a well-known and
respected incumbent, would be elected again.

But if Baker is
chosen then there would be no National Party incumbent standing. Howard
would then lead the Liberal campaign – and perhaps the result would be
three Liberals and no Nationals.

Howard already has a
Senate majority he has no need to campaign for a Liberal Senate vote in
Queensland. He would do so only if the Nationals thumbed their noses at
him by dumping Boswell. Perhaps, in their justified anger over
McGauran, the Nationals will be mad enough to dump Boswell (ask demoted
Veterans Affairs Minister De-Anne Kelly about feeling the aftershocks
of McGauran’s defection.) If so, they
would be letting their anger prevail over reason.