March 22, 2005 | Graham

What are the Queensland Libs offering the Nats?

One of the most common complaints you hear from politicians is that they have been misrepresented by the media. Generally it’s whinging, but occasionally you come across the real thing. It’s insidious when the media misrepresents what public figures are saying. Not only does it give the public a false basis on which to make their decisions, sometimes with calamitous results, but it encourages politicians to be less than honest with journalists. The result is that our politics becomes more like a bare knuckle, no-holds fight in Jimmy Sharman’s boxing tent late on a boozy Friday night, than the forensic contest of ideas and interests that it should be.
The Courier Mail served up an example of what I am talking about this morning. This article and this editorial contain a number of inaccuracies. They’re not too many to enumerate, but I only have time to deal with one – that is the allegation that the Liberal Party went into yesterday’s meeting demanding to be the senior party in any coalition. From all the information available to me, that is simply not true, but the repetition of it in today’s paper (presumably because they got it wrong in yesterday’s paper but don’t feel they can back down) rather than a factual account of what was on the table leads to the impression that the Queensland Liberal Party is being unreasonable.
It’s not difficult to find out what the Liberals’ position is – Michael Caltabiano the State President put out an email at 3:33 pm yesterday detailing it, and it has since found its way to me in various forms.
There appear to be lots of problems with the Liberals’ position, but none of them entails demanding to be the senior Coalition partner. Entitled a “Unity Plan” the document proposes an alliance in opposition and a coalition, but only in government.
The plan has an “‘Election Ready Committee’ that would have equal representation from both parties and would coordinate election requirements.”
It allows for an allocation of seats between the parties, but “if the other party has a member who seeks preselection [in a seat allocated to the other party] then membership passage would be facilitated and that member could be considered by the other party’s pre-selection college.”
The plan is not just about who runs in what seats: “Policy is to be coordinated across the five regions (Gold Coast, Brisbane, North Coast, North Qld and Western Qld), by a committee consisting of the Leader, Deputy Leader and President of both parties.”
When it comes to campaigns it says “It is expected that the Party with the majority of candidates in each region will direct the campaign for that region.”
Not only should this document have been reported on, but it should have been analysed. A myriad of questions spring to my mind about it. Doesn’t the proposal to allow members of either party to seek preselection from the other amount to some sort of amalgamation by stealth? What’s the point of separate parties if all the candidates in one region are going to be running a campaign directed by just one of the parties? What exactly is meant by “policy coordination”? Are there to be joint policies or is this just fluff?
Non-labor politics in Queensland are in a very interesting phase – a once in 50 year position. What happens now is as significant as what happened in 1957 after the Labor Party split. It deserves to be reported on accurately.

Posted by Graham at 6:16 am | Comments Off on What are the Queensland Libs offering the Nats? |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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