August 24, 2006

Liberals start to implode

The Sicilian faction in the Queensland Liberal Party is already looking to position itself post the election and post Bruce Flegg.

According to this article in The Australian by Matthew Franklin:

Liberal sources told The Australian yesterday the decision to replace former party leader Bob Quinn with Dr Flegg a fortnight ago had been a serious error.

And they blamed the so-called western suburbs faction, which controls the parliamentary partyroom but not the wider party.


Not hard to work out who the "sources" are, or at least what faction they come from. Matt's always been closer to Santoro than anyone else. What's more, the story doesn't make a lot of sense except as a post hoc re-writing of history.

Inasmuch as there are factions rather than social alliances in the Queensland Liberal Party, the Tucker faction has two definite parliamentary members - Quinn and Flegg. The Sicilian faction also has two bona fide members - Langbroek and Caltabiano. Stuckey is definitely non-aligned, Rogers was regarded as Sicilian, but may have shifted and McArdle is probably a corresponding member of the Western Suburbs group but I'm not sure. I should add here that, while I haven't played a part in Liberal Party politics for some years, I would have been regarded as a member of the Western Suburbs faction, although it isn't much more than a geographically pejorative phrase coined by others.

That being the disposition of parliamentarians, as near as I can tell it, can anyone explain to me how, if this was a factional stitch-up, the decision to dump Quinn was unanimous, with one abstention, when the party room was fairly evenly split?

It should be noted that the abstention was Michael Caltabiano.

According to businessman David Kemp, Caltabiano was approached by Kemp to be part of a coup about a week earlier, but said as a former party president he couldn't be involved. Kemp, who is not a member of the WS group, claimed this in an interview with Steve Austin on ABC Radio, and I have not seen it rebutted. At the time of the challenge Caltabiano was at a doctor's appointment.

Caltabiano's reasoning for not wanting to know, and his absence, seem just a little disingenuous as he has been urging Flegg to roll Quinn since at least the beginning of the year.

Still, Caltabiano did well out of this factional stitch-up that he had nothing to do with - he ended up as Shadow Treasurer.

What actually appears to have happened is that the Parliamentarians thought they were heading for a train-wreck with Quinn at the wheel and decided to roll Quinn for Flegg in the hope that Flegg could save a couple of them. My enquiries suggest that factional friends were caught by surprise by the move, almost as much as Quinn was. I initially thought that Caltabiano had also been caught by surprise, but this news story suggests that he was actually out buying insurance at the time!

Posted by Graham at August 24, 2006 03:35 PM

I have never seen a group like the Qld Liberals who are so keen to stay in the political desert. Every time they start to look good, they do something to kill themselves.

Are they scared of success?

Posted by: Spider at August 28, 2006 09:42 AM

Seems to me the Qld Liberal Party, having shot themselves in both feet recently, first with the failed merger proposal, and second with the appointment of the good Dr Flegg, who has really flagged, are lining up behind closed doors to plan The Night of the Long Scalpels.

Posted by: Fushnicken at August 25, 2006 10:42 AM

He goes back to being an engineer...and probably works out how to become Liberal Party president again.

Posted by: Graham Young at August 24, 2006 09:58 PM

What happens if Caltabiano dose not keep Chatsworth?

Posted by: Jenny Sams at August 24, 2006 09:36 PM

Perhaps I was too oblique - he did know!

My good friend, Bill Hewitt, was pilloried by Joh Bjelke-Petersen for allegedly "hiding in the toilet" when he deliberately (and properly) abstained from voting on the issue of a public accounts committee.

Imagine what Joh would have done with Caltabiano's doctor's appointment!

Posted by: Graham Young at August 24, 2006 09:06 PM

It is impossible to believe that Caltabiano was unaware that Quinn was to be dumped. Please!

It seems to me that Caltabiano's tatic was to oust Quinn and then let Flegg waste his chance on what seems to be an unwinnable election.

After the election Caltabiano wiil show the good Doctor what political surgery is all about.

Posted by: wpd at August 24, 2006 06:53 PM
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Graham Young
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