In what is now shaping up as a cliffhanger Federal election, the Liberal National Party appears to be going out of its way to ensure that Queensland plays no part on returning the Coalition to power.
The party was born amid intense acrimony, primarily from moderate Liberals who thought the new party was a Nationals takeover, aided and abetted by the collaborators of the party’s Right faction. They may have been right, but once the LNP was born most Liberals accepted it and threw their support behind the objective of winning power at the Queensland state election and reversing the big swing to Labor in that state that had helped propel Kevin Rudd into office.
Nevertheless, the Nationals/Liberal division remains the background radiation of the new entity, which since managing to lose last year’s state election has stumbled from one disaster to another.
Michael Johnson is not a problem of the LNP’s making. Johnson is a self-made man and a self-made disaster, and was right from when he stacked his way into John Moore’s old seat and began using federal politics as a way to fund his international travels. He fooled plenty of people along the way too, including senior business people who should have known better.
The LNP is well rid of him and did the smart thing giving him the flick yesterday, even if Johnson hangs around causing trouble.
Everything else about this week has been a disaster for the party.
Its two defectors, Aidan McLindon and Rob Messenger, have dropped the party machine in it something gruesome.
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First Messenger. He tabled a remarkable letter from 18 Far North Queensland LNP officials to party president Bruce McIver from last September alleging extensive mismanagement, failure to pay creditors and cases of bullying and intimidation, centred on the Party’s Cairns office, which they demanded be closed.
Then McLindon. McLindon is a young first-term MP who will hopefully have the honour of having seen off Pauline Hanson’s last attempt to blight politics, in Beaudesert. McLindon gave an insight into the party’s internal workings with 16 tabled documents (which can be found by looking for McLindon’s documents here) about what happened after he criticised the party in February. One, not available online, is a statutory declaration about McLindon’s meeting with senior party officials including Brucer McIver, where he is roundly abused by LNP Treasurer Barry O’Sullivan who declares: “I have never been so f-ckin angry in my f-cking life and you’re lucky you’re still f-cking here you little sh-t.”
McLindon is then told he will be forced to issue an apology and join a “marginal seats committee”, which is compulsory for all LNP members with margins below 5% (McLindon’s is 8%). The cost of joining the committee is $12,000 which is, McLindon says he was told, to be paid from McLindon’s electorate allowance.
That is, according to McLindon, the LNP forced him to contribute his taxpayer-funded electorate allowance to LNP coffers for its own campaigning.
McLindon’s subsequent tabled documents all back up the declaration, including email exchanges in which he tries to argue the wording of his marginal seats committee contract (including that he was forced to pay the $12,000). The tenor of the exchanges between McLindon and the party machine is that they clearly expected the young MP to knuckle under and weren’t afraid to bluntly indicate how they expected him to do it.
All this in a party that will be crucial to Tony Abbott’s chances of pulling off a long-shot win later in the year.