On Saturday I was told that the Queensland Liberal Party State Council purported to expel me from the party of which I have been a member for over 30 years.
A federal electorate committee chair has also been referred to the disciplinary committee for criticisms he made after the federal election. This is a challenge for federal Liberal leader Brendan Nelson as well. Is he prepared to accept criticism of the mistakes of the past?
The decision to expel me has not been properly arrived at, as stated in a letter from my solicitors to Liberal Party State President Warwick Parer. The Queensland Liberals should have learnt many lessons from recent events, including the federal election. One of those lessons is that they have too few members, not too many, with party membership the lowest it has been for half a century.
I am a professional journalist and publisher of Australia’s most popular politics website On Line Opinion. I have pioneered the art of using the internet for qualitative research and just recently completed an investigation into voting intentions in the federal election with The Australian. During the last election I also anchored a current affairs television show for Briz31, and gave many media interviews.
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Not once has it been suggested in the material sent to me by the Liberal Party that in any of my commentary or research I have said anything untrue. The inference must therefore be that my comments have been too close to the bone.
The consequence of this decision, if it is allowed to stand, is that by joining the Liberal Party members give up the right to publicly and honestly criticise the party. Rather, they are required to suppress any information that the State Council, or the Disciplinary Committee, might retrospectively decide should be supressed.
It would appear from the Disciplinary Committee’s report that even when behaviour by party members is illegal a member may not draw attention to it.
This is not an acceptable position for a political party which aspires to run the governments of Australia, especially a party whose constitution is founded on the right to free expression, and who receives funding from the public to conduct its election campaigns. Every time the state and federal Liberal parties talk about protecting whistle blowers their hypocrisy will be evident.
A fuller analysis of the party’s position is in my submission to the Disciplinary Committee. Once I receive official notification from the Liberal Party, it is my intention to ask the courts to enforce my rights. This is not just a personal matter, it affects everyone interested in open, transparent and effective governance in this country.