Graphic for Wardill column in CM.
Graphic for Wardill column in CM.

LNP should focus on elections not leadership coups

AMONG the prodigious catalogue of internal LNP blow-ups over the years, the latest involving Lawrence Springborg's unceremonious ousting from the party executive doesn't really rate.

It's far less entertaining, for example, than the time the pint-sized Liberal partyroom locked themselves in a room at the Stamford Hotel when they couldn't decide who should be their leader.

Bruce Flegg's reign was being compared regularly by pundits to Monty Python's Black Knight.

Much to the assembled media pack's amusement, Python's legend Eric Idle actually emerged from the hotel to stage an impromptu press conference during which he offered to lead the Liberals but insisted comparisons with the British comic crew were inappropriate because they were at least successful. Boom tish!

And who could forget the rolling cluster when Campbell Newman declared he was quitting his City Hall bolthole and wanted to lead the state LNP even though he didn't have a seat in parliament?

That adventure was at least successful. Until it wasn't.

If only the LNP could focus its penchant for self-flagellation and leadership coups on something else.

Like winning elections.

The ‘dumping’ of Lawrence Springborg from the LNP executive is the latest drama to engulf the upper echelons of the party.
The ‘dumping’ of Lawrence Springborg from the LNP executive is the latest drama to engulf the upper echelons of the party.


While the routing of Springborg, who stitched together the LNP merger to end Monty Python comparisons and actually win elections, doesn't have the wow factor of past Queensland conservative calamities, it is the latest in a list of such disturbances of late to show the party still hasn't learned.

On the Gold Coast, a group of curmudgeonly old members have been stewing over the party selecting a young woman to replace the retiring Jann Stuckey in Currumbin, even though that was precisely what the LNP needed.

Stuckey, meanwhile, has created more headlines in her post-politics life than she ever did in it, except maybe for that time she caused a stir at a local school because she didn't want a federal colleague included in an official photo.

We've had the party president, David Hutchinson, take a job with Clive Palmer, even though the billionaire was one of the key reasons so many LNP MPs lost their jobs when the party's brief return to power ended in 2015.

And then there was the damaging leaking of internal polling against Deb Frecklington who came out of the brouhaha with her own party bosses actually looking like a leader.

Perhaps she should try it more often.


LNP President David. Picture: AAP/Richard Gosling
LNP President David. Picture: AAP/Richard Gosling



Businessman Clive Palmer. Picture: Stewart McLean
Businessman Clive Palmer. Picture: Stewart McLean


You'd expect a bit of friction, a degree of background hostility even, if the LNP were careering towards certain defeat and the grey nomads that fill up its backbench faced having time on their hands to hit the open road after the October 31 state election.

But the latest polling published in The Courier-Mail actually had the LNP with its nose in front despite a surge in Annastacia Palaszczuk's popularity and Frecklington's standing having a certain Black Knight quality to it.

I'm sure it's just a flesh wound.

After all these years of being the perennial losers of Queensland politics, maybe certain masochistic tendencies have taken hold in the LNP's collective psyche and the prospect of actually winning fills them with a sense of dread.

Maybe they're all political pyromaniacs who just can't help setting their house on fire and joining efforts to put out the blaze because it gives them some self-worth.

Or is it just impossible to lead a party in which everyone thinks they know better and should be in charge?

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture: Annette Dew
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture: Annette Dew

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that a political party that worships individualism is constantly plagued by the same problem. Too many individuals.

But the pattern of ill-discipline, which occurs like clockwork regardless of their political plight, is unique to Queensland when compared to their interstate contemporaries.

So yeah, why not knife the most respected stalwart that the party has, spit chips about a woman winning preselection over one of the good ol' boys and leak against a leader when there's no one willing and able to replace her?

Perhaps the party needs a theme song to sing along to as it attempts to drag itself to another defeat.

Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" would seem terribly appropriate.



RUMOURS abound that Queensland's mandarin-in-chief Dave Stewart is London bound.

Word has it that Stewart will land the coveted agent-general's gig, replacing Linda Apelt whose three-year contract ended a couple of days ago.

A keen theatre goer, Stewart would fit right in working on The Strand in London although the job was better back in the day when agents-general lived and worked at Queensland House before it became cut-priced accommodation.


Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet Dave Stewart (left) with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt
Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet Dave Stewart (left) with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt


It wouldn't be the first time that a Queensland public service boss was packed off to London shortly before an election.

Ken Smith netted a neat five-year contract before Labor's 2012 rout.

However, whether the current Opposition would be happy about Stewart's appointment less than 100 days before polling day remains to be seen.




MEANWHILE, a close confidant of Stewart's has flown the 1 William Street coop in another way.

It was announced internally late last week that Department of Premier and Cabinet executive director Julia Sheedy was on the team being deployed to Melbourne as part of an intergovernmental response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

From a mid-level job in local government a few years back, Sheedy has enjoyed a meteoric rise while working beneath Stewart.

Sheedy's success has put more than a few noses out of joint in public service land but there was some surprise she was being shuffled off to Victoria, which has only inflamed talk about Stewart's London sojourn.




BURSTING back onto the public circuit just before the election is none other than Neil Symes.

Symes-Of-Our-Times, as he's been dubbed, was a one-term wonder in the seat of Lytton during the Newman government before defecting to One Nation.

He contested Mansfield in 2017, costing the LNP MP Ian Walker his seat by directing preferences to Labor.


Neil Symes. Picture: Annette Dew
Neil Symes. Picture: Annette Dew


His  political career has taken him from the seaside to the outer suburbs and he'll contest Jordan near Ipswich at this election.

Beyond hanging out at the local Lions club, what Symes-Of-Our-Times has been up to recently his biography doesn't say.

But he's apparently still on the electoral roll in the family house at Wishart, along with his parents, Ian and Janette.




IT seems the good folk at LNP HQ just couldn't wait until after the election to whack a discount tag on Deb Frecklington merchandise.

Collection-edition caps featuring Frecklington's personally-signed signature are now going for a bargain basement $19.99, heavily reduced from the original asking price of $35 back in 2018.



Fancy a signed Deb Frecklington hat?
Fancy a signed Deb Frecklington hat?



The last time the party cut the cost of its paraphernalia like that was some time before Malcolm Turnbull got the chop.





AND finally, there's more than a few party stalwarts and current caucus colleagues aghast that Education Minister Grace Grace is clinging to her claim of having a Masters/Graduate Diploma Level qualification.

She completed a 10-week course on trade unions at Harvard years back.

Some reckon it's akin to claiming a Bachelor level qualification just for doing a subject at TAFE that can be credited towards a degree.

Others think it's like calling yourself a doctor after being handed an honorary doctorate from a university. Dr Grace does have a nice ring to it. 

Originally published as LNP should focus on elections not leadership coups