November 24, 2007 | Graham

Mal Brough

There are only a very few things that I would count as real personal political achievements that have had national significance. One was obviously crafting the strategy that won the 1995 Queensland state election. Another, was making sure that Mal Brough won the preselection for Longman in the same year. I should add that I’m not claiming sole responsibility for either of these.
I thought Brough might hang on in this election. At the same time I picked his seat and Forde as ones that it was improbable that the Liberal Party held by safe margins, and which should naturally fall to Labor. My first judgement was sentiment, and my second has proved to be real.
Brough was one of the few people with the talent to go all the way that the Queensland Liberal Party has preselected in the 30 years since I have been a member. The proof is that even though his seat has never been safe, his rise was meteoric.
But Mal has more than talent – he has commitment, he has principal, and he has honesty.
Some thought he could be a future prime minister.
He proved his strength and integrity when he made his concession speech tonight a plea to the new federal government to stay his course on aboriginal relations. Most concession speeches were about the retiring member, and most victory speeches were about the new member. Mal’s speech was about others. It was about the federal government’s intervention in the Northern Territory.
Some saw the federal government intervention as a political wedge. I never did, because I knew that Brough was driving it, and Brough isn’t into wedges.
I could write a lot about Brough, and may well yet do so. At this stage I would just like to record my regret that he has lost his seat, and my hope that the Liberal Party can find him another one.
Australia needs conviction politicians now, more than ever.

Posted by Graham at 11:56 pm | Comments (11) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I was just suggesting to my household this morning that Brough would make a decent Liberal party leader and then I remembered he had lost his seat.

    Comment by Vee — November 25, 2007 @ 9:47 am

  2. I read this morning that he’s hosed down any talk of a move into state politics, but I would have to concede (as someone who quite likes anna bligh) that he’d provide a few headaches for the Premier as the leader of a merged opposition. Anything you can arrange there, Graham?

    Comment by Jason — November 26, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  3. The man that allowed John Howard to send in his storm Troopers in amongst the Aboriginal people an haress them for political gain.

    Comment by Karooson — November 26, 2007 @ 9:44 am

  4. Whatever Brough decides to do I hope he does with a bit more homework on the background to an issue than he showed with the NT intervention. I have been working in Aboriginal health for the past 10 years and am still learning. Brough seemed to think that a fly in fly out visit to numerous communities meant he knew it all. Whoever was advising him in the NT intervention should hang their head in shame and lament with Brough at their passing. Sure something had to be done but not in the crude rude and unattractive way that the Brough/Howard intervention was done.

    Comment by Rollo Manning — November 26, 2007 @ 9:55 am

  5. Perhaps his defeat is linked to his attitude being more like a “principal” (sic) than his so called principles!!

    Comment by ray — November 26, 2007 @ 10:56 am

  6. He can come and oust my local member, the completely useless bludger Michael Johnson and take over the seat of Ryan. I am solid Labor and I think its seriously a shame that a dill like Johnson didn’t get ejected when others of much better quality and talent did.

    Comment by tyro rex — November 26, 2007 @ 11:08 am

  7. A committed person is what all are trying to say, and I agree.
    Perhaps he will be offered a post by labor, they could do worse!

    Comment by frank luff — November 26, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

  8. I hope that Brough sees sense, after some time out of the cauldron of federal politics and re-enters politics. He could well learn from ex-PM Howard’s early years, and his last years, and get back to where he was. Some time working with people in community would do him well, in order to realise that military style planning and execution of decisions is the best way. It is true that he has the potential to go further, but he needs to move on and forward from defeat.

    Comment by Derek Sheppard — November 26, 2007 @ 11:08 pm

  9. Sorry, I meant:
    … in order to realise that military style planning and execution of decisions is NOT the best way.
    It’s late.

    Comment by Derek Sheppard — November 27, 2007 @ 12:22 am

  10. Graham,
    Like many people i suspect, I had mixed feelings about the NT intervention. Given the Howard government’s absolute propensity for making just about every decision based upon cynical opportunism, it was difficult to overturn my own skepticism that this was just another example of wedge politics. But like most people I suspect, I decided to give Brough the benefit of the doubt.
    Unfortunately from my analysis the intervention was made murky by the overturning of land rights, the abolition of CDEP and the ending of the permit system. These (admittedly from the perspective of a long way away) appear to have everything to do with ideology and little to do with improving the lot of Aboriginal people.
    It is obvious that you have a lot of time for Brough. I would be interested then in hearing of your response to the analysis of the intervention in yesterday’s Crikey, and particularly what your response is to the fact that Aboriginal people appeared to vote overwhelmingly against the intervention.

    Comment by barney — November 28, 2007 @ 8:17 am

  11. Barney,
    I actually queried Mal’s office on two of the issues that you raise. The only one that I am not sure was justified was the abolition of the permit system, although I think it has to be said that the permit system wasn’t performing any useful purpose.
    Haven’t read Crikey on this, and I suspect I won’t – it’s become the first line of offence for the Aboriginal industry. The policies most of those people have been advocating have caused a deterioration in Aboriginal welfare because they stem from the idea that somehow Aborigines should be left in suspended animation as a museum culture, but without having to support themselves, and with advanced economy standards of living.
    That just doesn’t hang together.
    I’ve been a great supporter of aboriginal land rights, and aboriginal rights generally, but it has always been on the basis that aborigines have a right to negotiate the way that they enter into the 21st century.
    Unfortunately what has happened is that the lucky few have become Europeanised, like Noel Pearson, Lowtija O’Donohue, the Dodson brothers, to just pick some names, but the brothers and sisters and aunties and uncles back on the communities have been going down-hill. I’m not saying Pearson et al are to blame, they’re not. But I will side with Pearson when it comes to solutions, despite the fact that they contradict some of the things that I used to believe 30 years ago.
    When things aren’t working, it’s time to change. I want Aborigines to survive to be able to make their way into this century.
    That means they need to stop being a museum culture and move on. We need to empower the entrepreneurs amongst them and kick-start a real economy, and we need to put a halt to the destructive social practices, like excessive alcohol consumption.
    Why did they vote against this? It’s paternalistic, most are comfortable in squalor, but go with the vote and things get worse. Sometimes popular votes aren’t a good decision making mechanism.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 29, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.