November 27, 2007 | Graham

Faction fighting breaks out in Queensland

Breaking news – Tim Nicholls has announced that he is challenging Bruce Flegg for the leadership of the Queensland Liberal Party tomorrow. Who is Tim Nicholls? That’s something that plenty of people are bound to be asking as he’s failed to make any impression on Queensland politics to date.
A quick google search shows Nicholls doesn’t even have his own website, and is most likely to be mentioned by the media in the context of his ambition to be leader of the Liberal Party.
He’s already had one go at the leadership, but failed to challenge because he hadn’t actually mustered any support. Tomorrow’s operation is likely to be only slightly more successful. Nicholls has 4 votes, but even in the Queensland Liberal Party, that’s only 50%. Flegg will not be emulating John Gorton and voting against himself, so assuming that the numbers hold Nicholls is going to look like a big dill.
So, who is Tim Nicholls? He’s the Santoro faction representative in the Queensland Parliament. Originally a Brisbane City Councillor he won the seat of Clayfield at the last election. Despite his lack of experience, and his unsuccessful coup attempt, Flegg has given him senior positions on the front-bench. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything he’s said in his portfolio areas of Public Transport and Traffic Management, even though Queensland’s infrastructure is a huge local issue as the state groans under the weight of immigration.
Nicholls main claims to fame are running a constant undermining campaign against his parliamentary boss, including suggestions that he’s not mentally fit for the job, and taking $3,000 from his campaign fund to pay for an overseas trip.
This challenge appears to be the first in a fully-fledged factional war in Queensland. In this morning’s Courier Mail, Ryan MP Michael Johnson was promising to clean out the party’s top echelons and make some key office holders “walk the plank”. Those key office-holders would be most likely to be behind the Nicholls challenge.
Nicholls is running with Gold Coast MP John-Paul Langbroek as his deputy. I’m not sure why Langbroek is doing this. He’s well-regarded by all sides, but if he wins, he and Nicholls will be subjected to a long counter-offensive which will most likely maim his political prospects.
Mesmerised by the hold that John Howard appeared to have over the Australian public, most commentators have missed just how ricketty the Liberal Party machine is. Undoubtedly the poor financial position and managerial ability of the Queensland Liberal Party contributed to Labor’s big swing in Queensland. Without Howard to glue it together, it looks to be about to deliver even more to Rudd.

Posted by Graham at 2:09 pm | Comments (9) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Blind Freddy can see that Flegg is totally ineffective. Internal party polling has demonstrated quantitatively just how unpopular Flegg really is with the punters.
    For him to stay on as leader after that polling just shows how arrogant he is and without change the Queensland Parliamentary Party is doomed to further electoral defeats.
    This is just basic Newtonian physics!

    Comment by blind freddy — November 27, 2007 @ 2:59 pm

  2. How would you know what is in “party polling”? And tell me, what does the “polling” say about Nicholls?
    Amazing how close an eye some anonymous people keep on this blog. If people like you didn’t spend their whole time working out how to undermine Flegg he might be able to devote his time to fixing his image.
    You all egged him on to challenge Quinn, and then as soon as he replaced him just switched your aim!

    Comment by Graham Young — November 27, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

  3. Stuckey has moved across to Nicholls so it’s a done deal.
    The real story here is Langbroek. Nicholls will be rebuilding towards 2010 and taking the inevitable electoral loss. Langbroek will then take over. Of the crop of 8, J-P would seem to be the most effective.
    It’s a pity that McArdle is so weak.

    Comment by Vee-Dubb — November 27, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

  4. Oh dear, another anonymous “well-informed” insider. Stuckey was one of the four. And if it is all about JP, then why isn’t he the candidate?
    The interesting thing will be to see how they try to manouever to get Caltabiano back into parliament. If JP’s been told he’s going to be the future, he’s being dudded.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 27, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  5. Was I right in hearing that Nicholls originally said “This is all about us” before apologising and saying “This is all about Queensland”?

    Comment by Birsbane Observer — November 28, 2007 @ 8:05 am

  6. Anyone see the Courier-Mail this morning?
    As someone who’s a supporter of democracy before any party, it seems like the Libs are really playing with fire by brawling when they’re in such a parlous position.
    It is of course always possible for things to be worse (just ask the Democrats), and it seems to me that they’re right on the edge of complete self-destruction in this State. Meanwhile Queensland has no effective opposition.
    Even the ALP during the Joh years never got this bad. To brawling Liberals: If you can’t think about the good of your Party, think about democracy. The Government is currently operating with no effective scrutiny – even ALP supporters do not want this.

    Comment by Jason — November 28, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  7. Both Graham and Vee-Dub are ill-informed.
    Jan Stuckey is and always has been a Santo hack!

    Comment by Young Lib — November 28, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  8. The internal polling shows Flegg with a net appeal of -60 and Seeney on -10 from memory, far behind Bligh. This polling was presented originally to the whole of State executive immediately after the State election and then again a couple of months ago.
    I have nothing against Mr Flegg as a person but he has clearly been unable to stamp his authority on a meagure seven other colleagues. How would he manage a government party room!?
    The poor guy just has some sort of reverse Midas touch and needs to accept that. Performance and outcomes are the bottom line and they are not good enough.
    And your constant reference to the Santoro faction, last I checked they did not win convention and are thus not the dominant faction in the party, so why doesn’t the ABS (Anything But Santo) grouping put a muzzle on them.

    Comment by blind freddy — November 28, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  9. Don’t think that polling’s likely to be accurate. -60 requires a disapproval rating higher than 60 and a negigible approval rating. Much more likely it’s just a bit more disinformation.
    And what did the polling say about Tim Nicholls, or did they forget to tell you? Had anyone even heard of him?
    And last time I checked the ABS coalition didn’t control management committee, and as demonstrated by today’s outburst, don’t control the President. The papers report that Geoff Greene is involved in this, and they certainly don’t control him.
    I’m not sure to what extent they even control state council. But even if they did, how does this give them control over Nicholls?
    You’re just running lines.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 28, 2007 @ 4:32 pm

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