Queensland has already sent two potential Prime Ministers to Canberra, and Joh never quite made it. Last century, both TJ Ryan and “Red” Ted Theodore, shifted to Canberra after their premierships. Both were touted as possible Labor PMs. Ryan died in office, while Theodore never quite cast off the ghost of the Mungana scandals, leaving eventually to make tons of money with Frank Packer. But the Sunshine State has never sent a state party leader down south specifically to become Deputy PM.

Glenn Milne is now spruiking Lawrence Springborg as a potential successor to Mark Vaile. The idea actually makes some sense. Springborg presents well, is intelligent, and reasonably progressive as Nationals go. Therein might lie the problem. Springborg, as Milne notes, a “great mate” of Barnaby, led his party into the division lists with Labor last year in State Parliament on a resolution opposing WorkChoices. Compared to the robots at the top of the federal Nats, the Borg has more personality, but is also more of an unreconstructed agrarian socialist.

It’s more likely that Lawrence might be considering a tilt at Ron Boswell’s Senate seat. This was mooted around town shortly after the Queensland election loss. That’s a possibility Milne also raises in his column yesterday. Boz is unlikely to stand down to let James Baker, perceived candidate of the Barnaby forces, take his place. But he just might stand aside for Springborg.

Of course, what Milne doesn’t say is that Senator Springborg wouldn’t be a solution to the Vaile succession problem but to the Katter beast tilt at a Senate quota. Springborg is much closer to the Barnaby wing of the Nats, and would be much less liable to attack from Katterites than the “strong coalitionist” Boswell.

Therein lies the rub. What Milne doesn’t appear to know is that Springborg as a Senator might be another problem for the Coalition, not a solution to the managing Barnaby problem.

Peter Fray

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