November 28, 2007 | Graham

He’s back

No, not a radical unionist – I mean Santo Santoro.
The Courier Mail has run a highly misleading story this morning about the Nicholls challenge to Flegg. It portrays Flegg as a bumbler who walked away from a leadership contest with the unjustly spurned Nicholls. In fact it is Nicholls that is the bumbler who has been unsuccessfully and illegally trying to oust Flegg on terms convenient to him.
The meeting that Nicholls called for this morning was not legally authorised. He has no power to call a meeting of the state parliamentary party. That is the leader’s prerogative, and they generally occur at regular intervals dictated by the parliamentary sitting cycle.
So, Flegg called a meeting for yesterday, as is his right, to give Nicholls the opportunity to legally move a spill motion. Nicholls declined to attend. So Flegg adjourned the meeting until the time that Nicholls had nominated today. Effectively he was saying – well if you won’t do it on my terms I’ll give you a legal opportunity to do it on your terms.
Nicholls moved a number of motions, none of which were carried. No spill, no leadership challenge. Simple as that. Flegg effectively stared him down and exposed the stupidity of his position.
Now Nicholls wants to run to the state Liberal Party organisation to sort things out for him. Even though he is the challenger, and even though the party is evenly divided, he apparently believes that he has a superior claim on the position.
The organisation ought to leave well-enough alone. It has always been its philosophical position that the parliamentary wing is separate from the organisational wing because members of parliament are elected not just to serve the party, but to serve their electorates. It is not up to the organisation to pass a vote of no-confidence in a leader. Some of the worst times for the party have been when the organisation has been at loggerheads with the parliamentary party.
Originally I thought that the game plan was to shake one of Flegg’s supporters loose, but all that has been achieved so far is to antagonise Flegg’s supporters so that they are even more committed.
Now I’m revising my opinion. There is a larger factional game on foot. The federal election campaign in Queensland was so disastrously run, that the senior office bearers of the party should resign, including State Director Geoff Greene. That would be a body blow to the Santoro faction. By launching this unsuccessful coup attempt they have successfully diverted attention from their own (non)performance to the (non)performance of the state parliamentary team.
So, if you want to know what’s happening in the Queensland Libs it appears that you need to invert whatever the CM is writing, and keep your eyes skinned for Santoro apparatchiks maneuvering behind smokescreens to reassert their positions..

Posted by Graham at 11:45 am | Comments Off on He’s back |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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