August 21, 2005 | Graham

Bob Quinn loses in by-elections?

Could Bob Quinn lose his job as a result of winning the Queensland by-elections? That’s the seemingly bizarre analysis running around the Queensland Liberal Party. It goes like this.
Michael Caltabiano, the winner in Chatsworth, has entered Parliament with the express intention of becoming Parliamentary Leader. Not only is he ambitious, but some of his supporters are whispering that he will challenge Quinn at his first party meeting. To win the leadership he has to gather four additional votes. Flegg and Quinn are counted as being the only sure votes for Quinn, leaving four other members as possibles for either side. Of these Langbroek is in the Caltabiano faction, Rogers, the other by-election winner is supposed to be under their influence, and Stuckey and McCardle are apparently critical of Quinn. It’s plausible he could win.
Caltabiano’s track record suggests that would be a bad decision. He has been a divisive figure as president and holds a seat with a tenuous margin, only just established in a by-election. He was the leader of the Liberal Party in the City Council, but resigned from that position in a fit of pique after managing to alienate most of his colleagues.
The next natural leader of the Parliamentary Party is Bruce Flegg. Not only does he hold a safe seat, but he has a term and a half’s experience and can get on with most of his colleagues. If Caltabiano challenges, it is more likely that Flegg will emerge the leader than him. That probably means that Caltabiano will bide his time to keep Flegg out and wait until after the next election when his supporters in the Liberal caucus should increase in number.
One of those supporters is likely to be Peter Turner, the newly preselected candidate for Indooroopilly. This is a must win seat that the Liberal Party threw away last election by preselecting Alan Pidgeon. They appear to be doing the same thing this election. This afternoon, Scott Emerson, a former journalist with The Australian, a local resident and involved in local community politics, and one of the smartest, most presentable and charming people I know, missed the preselection by a narrow margin, to Turner.
Emerson is well connected and would have run a well-financed and focussed campaign which would have been likely to win. On election he could have immediately been moved into a front-bench position. Turner is unlikely to be able to do any of those things. But he has one of the most valuable assets in the contemporary Queensland Liberal Party – a vote that he will exercise as the powers that be direct.
Peter Beattie’s actually having a reasonable weekend. More Liberals means more trouble, but not necessarily for him.

Posted by Graham at 11:40 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I have to disagree with your call this time Graham. I can categorically tell you that State Council has never been run so professionally since Michael took the helm. There is no “um”ming and “ahh”ing anymore. It actually gets stuff done. Also, I have been pleased that the Nats have stayed off the radar until after these by-elections. Whether it be now or in the future, I think Caltabiano would make a great Parliamentary leader.
    As for factions, well whether they be formal (ALP) or informal (Libs), whenever there is a multitude of votes available, they need to be organised in some way to get ordered outcomes – sounds a lot like how Senators who are supposed to represent their State actually vote along party lines too hey?
    As for your implications that the Libs winning more seats means trouble for Bob Quinn, it begs the question is Bob’s time up because he would not be popular enough in a larger Parliamentary team?

    Comment by R — August 22, 2005 @ 11:19 am

  2. Bobs time is up, he has just been keeping the seat warm.
    Dr Flegg (i would like to highlight the “Dr”) part of his name is the ideal candidate and could pass himself off to most of queensland.
    Caltabiano on the other hand is one slick operator, acceptable to certain parts of southern brisbane, but would struggle in the outer burbs and espeically regional queensland. He comes with a lot of baggage as well, whereas Flegg is fresh faced, articulate and thoughful. The homophobic, sly business man Catltabiano may be the true conservative. But Front man material he is not.
    He only just barely scraped in on election night, and he was the liberals star players – with a huge presence already established in the electorate.
    I welcome Michaels promotion to Liberal Leader – only because it will keep the conservatives out of power for 4 more years.

    Comment by alphacoward — August 22, 2005 @ 11:49 pm

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