December 04, 2007 | Graham

Caltabiano’s no mug

It’s fascinating how lies infect one organ in the media, and then get transmitted on. Here’s one that first invaded The Courier Mail and then spread around both the mainstream and alternate media.
If you believe The Courier Mail, the current deadlock in the Queensland parliamentary Liberal party could have been avoided. In an article which does not appear to be online, it was claimed that there was a meeting two weeks out from the last state election when Michael Caltabiano could have been substituted for Bruce Flegg. Somehow this meant that the current leadership impasse would not have occurred.
The whole premise is wierd. Why would Michael Caltabiano accept the leadership two weeks out from an election? And if he had, he lost his seat in the election, so he wouldn’t be leader now. Someone else would have been, and it wouldn’t have been Tim Nicholls who was only elected at the last election. It therefore might have been someone else acceptable to the Santoro faction, but it could just as easily have been Flegg or McArdle.
You’d probably still have the same deadlock in the party. Whoever peddled this story to the journalist should have been dismissed as unreliable and possibly unstable, which is to put it very kindly.
I’ve spoken to a number of people who were involved in the meeting and the version I’m about to put seems much more realistic than the one accepted by The Courier Mail.
Apparently two of Flegg’s campaign workers, both prominent Liberals, were drawn into an ad hoc conversation with party director Geoff Greene when they went in to Liberal Party Headquarters to collect some campaign material. Greene was distraught because he had just received polling showing the Liberals only winning Surfers Paradise. He said that Flegg was the problem and had to be dumped for Caltabiano.
Greene was asked what Warwick Parer thought about this. While The Courier report represents this as an attempt to do a deal, it was portrayed to me as an attempt to talk Greene through what he was saying, who had “clearly lost it”. “I haven’t asked him,” was Greene’s reply. “Well shouldn’t you?” was the response, “This is a pretty major play you’re suggesting”.
Parer was contacted by phone by Greene and prevailed upon to come in to the office. Parer also contacted Caltabiano. The word from Catalbiano was that he wasn’t keen.
Any possibility of an arrangement completely unravelled after Parer made a phone call to Howard. The Prime Minister didn’t think it was a good idea either. It’s such a dumb idea that I wonder anyone even bothered him with it.
So, there was no deal, nor any possibility of a deal. This version seems more iikely to be right to me. The only thing that surprises me about it is to what degree Howard was micro-managing events in a state division.

Posted by Graham at 6:37 pm | Comments Off on Caltabiano’s no mug |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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