December 15, 2004 | Graham

Los trios amigos

While I’m waiting for Lawrence Springborg to post a reply I thought I might run some Queensland gossip. Latest and hottest rumour in the Queensland Liberal Party is that Senator Santo Santoro and Councillors Caltabiano and Nicholls are heading to state parliament. The three are factional allies and exercise significant influence over the party, but do they really want to ride into State Parliament together and shoot the place up?
Some parts of this rumour have more substance than others, such as the one involving Caltabiano. There is a general expectation that MLA for Chatsworth, Terry MacKenroth will retire some time before the next state election. Michael Caltabiano, who is also the Liberal Party State President, represents the ward of Carindale which includes much of MacKenroth’s territory. Caltabiano’s vote is north of 60% and the Liberal Party won two of the three federal seats in the area. Caltabiano is jaded with council. He is ambitious, but with Campbell Newman as Lord Mayor his options in council are limited.
He could be interested in getting out altogether and going back into the engineering business. According to some of his colleagues on a recent trip to China he made business contacts in the road paving industry. Before entering the council he had been a civil engineer with a company thats business was laying hot bitumen from recycled pavement.
But political ambition is still said to burn brightly, so a move into state politics could also be on the cards, which makes sense of the Chatsworth option. If he wins the seat, he would have a position on the Liberals’ frontbench and prospects of becoming leader, and maybe even premier, one day. If he loses he would go out on a high note, attempting to wrest a much needed seat from Labor, and he could settle down to make a mint.
Nicholls is the councillor for Hamilton, and would be expected to run for the state seat of Clayfield. While this is held by Liddy Clark it used to be blue ribbon territory before Santo Santoro lost it in the 2001 state election. Nicholl’s council margin is also quite substantial. However, he has only been a councillor for one and a half terms, so I’m not sure why he would run the risk of shifting.
The Santoro leg of the theory is the weakest. It rests on the assumption that he is finding life difficult in Canberra and would like an opporunity to re-engage in state politics. The rumours have him running for the seat of Indooroopilly, held narrowly by Ronan Lee for the ALP. He would have to win the preselection first, which would mean relying on the numbers of Michael Johnson, the local MHR. Johnson might not be keen on having another heavy on his patch, but then, Santoro is also rumoured to be moving his senator’s office into the area so perhaps Johnson and he are almost neighbours already.
Santoro certainly isn’t producing much publicity in his new role as a Senator, but it is a big leap to see him sacrificing his senate term to run for a seat where he does not live. The rumour says that he still has ambitions to be premier of Queensland one day. They’d have to be pretty strong ambitions for this rumour to be true. It would also see him potentially facing off against Caltabiano if the totality of the rumour was true. Not a case of all for one and one for all.
Still, this is the Queensland Liberal Party, and strange things do happen. I haven’t checked with any of the three, but I’d be happy to host their denials and other musings on their futures on the blog. And if there aren’t denials? Well, maybe we can get back to discussing amalgamation.

Posted by Graham at 6:47 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I wait with bated breath as well. In the meantime Graham, can I suggest something for your main page? What do you think about extending the number of posts on your main page? In might be easier to reach back and follow the conversation, especially if one wasn’t able to check the site every few days (summer holidays and all). I don’t think I would cost you too much in bandwidth. Just a thought. Cheers…

    Comment by Andy — December 15, 2004 @ 7:26 pm

  2. We’re limited by what Movable Type will let us do. You can get a whole month by clicking on the month link in the archive section at the left-hand side.

    Comment by Graham Young — December 21, 2004 @ 1:04 pm

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