December 19, 2007 | Graham

Senior Liberals warn Parer off amalgamation

There’s consternation in the Queensland Liberal Party that President Warwick Parer is even having informal talks with the National Party about amalgamating the parties, and very senior office-bearers want him to back-off now.
Local Brisbane media have been carrying the Nationals’ version of the story, complete with the incorrect claim that attempts at merger 18 months ago were killed-off by John Howard. In fact that merger proposal was scuttled by the National Party, and the deal was for National Party members to join the Liberals with the National Party’s assets being transferred across. The merger agreement is available from here, and you can read my coverage of it starting here.
Liberals see current talks as a National Party manouevre to keep the National Party afloat with nothing to offer the Liberals or the people of Queensland. “Their life in Queensland politics is limited, it really is,” I was told.
“Every time something goes wrong they want amalgamation.”
A merged party is seen as a strategic mistake, with the Liberal Party being consumed by the National Party and the resulting organisation less able to win middle-class Brisbane electorates.
“They’ll have more of the numbers than we have, take us to the right and how would we win back those small “l” votes?”
Parer has told his internal critics that he is not holding formal discussions with the Nationals and he has made it clear to them that any amalgamation would need to be at a federal, not a state level.
All very well, but this is seen as too nuanced. Once informal talks are unofficially or officially leaked, then as far as the public is concerned, they’re official. “We’re just good friends” is not a viable modus operandi.
In dallying with the National Party Parer is folllowing a path well-trodden by Liberal leaders, and it always ends with the Liberals looking like they wrecked the party, which has the effect of dragging their vote down.
Former Nationals leader Lawrence Springborg ran a long campaign to amalgamate the two parties, during which he commissioned some research. The research, which you can download from here essentially said that a merger should not be attempted unless there was agreement on all sides. That precondition does not appear to have been met.

Posted by Graham at 4:04 pm | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

1 Comment

  1. I think a merged Party is the only viable way forward for the Libs and Nats, both Federally and in Queensland.
    On a marketing front, it makes the branding simpler. Simple branding and simple messages are the key to effective campaigns and effective communication.
    On the State front, the Libs are an embarrassment. The have reached the lowest of the low in terms of electoral hopes (that’s right even lower than when Flegg took over pre-2006 election).
    Hopefully, by making the State Libs a small fish in a bigger merged conservative pond, they will become a bit more realistic about fighting for government instead of amongst themselves.

    Comment by blind freddy — December 19, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

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