December 02, 2007 | Graham

Parer loses at State Council

One of the most striking things about the Queensland Liberal Party Parliamentary stand-off is the way that the organisational chieftain, Warwick Parer, has tried to assert superiority over the parliamentary leadership. He even wanted a casting vote in the parliamentary meeting.
But, unlike Flegg, Parer doesn’t even appear to be able to count on half of his relevant organisation because the position that the Liberals State Council came to does not give him any rights in the party room debate, and takes an advisory, rather than an executory, role at the highest.
They should have moved no confidence in Parer because his public interference was outside his powers, and worsened the public perception problems for the party.
The motion that was passed reads like this:

1. That in compliance with Section 54 of the Constitution of the Liberal Party of Australia, QLD Division, State Council confirms that the State Parliamentary Party has a right to determine it own leadership and govern its affairs according to its own rules; and
2. State Council calls on the State Parliamentary Party to:
(i) Enact rules to provide a mechanism for a secret ballot to be held on any occasion that a leadership challenge is called; and
(ii) Ensure such rules provide a mechanism to resolve a deadlock should such a ballot result be tied; and
(iii) Meet until it elects a leader who has the support of the majority of its members; and
(iv) Report to State Council on Saturday 8th December 2007 at which all Parliamentary Members are invited to attend.

The motion was moved by Gary Spence, who is Parer’s preferred replacement, and Michael Caltabiano, the most senior Santoro representative, apart from Parer, on the State Council.
There are elements of a compromise about this motion, indicating that neither side is confident of unquestioning support on State Council, but the primary clause in the motion is a complete rebuff to Parer, and recognises that Council can, and should, make no more than recommendations to the parliamentarians.
In fact the motion is a bit of a mess. It was obviously meant to be much more aggressive, before it was amended with the first clause and the two parts don’t hang together well.
Then, the second part isn’t internally consistent. For example, the motion fails to acknowledge that parts (ii) and (iii) essentially contradict each other. If you have a clear winner, then there is no deadlock to resolve. And this ignores the fact that there is already a mechanism to deal with a deadlock – the chairman has a casting vote.
The reporting function is also essentially superfluous as Councillors can read about it in the papers if the parliamentarians come to a solution in the party room. It makes sense as a deadline, but then, why not call it a deadline?
Other assertions that have been made in the media also appear to be contradicted, such as the suggestion that the State Council would change the constitution.
Parer continues to insist that Flegg has broken a convention by not allowing a spill motion. It’s not clear that he didn’t, but even if he did, it wouldn’t have got up, on his casting vote, so the whole issue is a distraction. I’m happy to be pointed to some acknowledge convention that proves me wrong, but to date no-one has.

Posted by Graham at 10:40 pm | Comments Off on Parer loses at State Council |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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