March 30, 2008 | Graham

Spence beats Caris – more bad news for Nelson

Gary Spence is the new president of the Queensland Liberal Party beating John Caris by 23 votes to 20, and demonstrating just how entrenched the factions still are. Spence was the Santoro faction candidate, and Caris the candidate of the rest.
This makes it almost certain, as forecast in a previous post, that Mal Brough will contest the presidency at the party’s state convention, to be held within a couple of months. Spence’s factional enemies are already referring to him as the “interim president”.
This result confirms that disgraced former senator Santo Santoro is far from dead as a force in the Queensland Liberals, with internal factionalism shaping as a weakness for Brendan Nelson. While there is little that Nelson can do about the factions, that won’t stop the ALP tagging him with the issue, as will his competitors within the Liberal Party.
It will also make it even more difficult for him, or anyone else, to recruit good talent to run in winnable seats in the next election, or any byelections that may occur between then and now.
Spence also introduces more uncertainty into negotiations with the Queensland Nationals. While Caris is on the record as opposing amalgamation, Spence’s personal position is not publicly known. His lack of a deep background in the Liberal Party will also be a problem as the National Party negotiators have a lot of experience.
It is not certain that Brough can beat Spence in June, which would be another problem for Nelson as Brough is one of the few members of the Queensland Liberal Party with any intact political capital at all. He’s also a potential recruit for one of those byelections.

Posted by Graham at 7:12 pm | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. It wasn’t merely Santoro’s influence that gave rise to Spence’s presidency, but Caris’ ineffectual windbag and carping that white-anted his supporters.
    I think more would have voted for him if he could learn how to behave properly in public.

    Comment by Hosea Bob — March 30, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

  2. Was this his behaviour in the meeting? I understand that candidates’ performances, not just factional alliances count. The factional is sometimes an over-simplification. Was there any element of people saying, “Elect Spence so Brough will have to run”?

    Comment by Graham Young — March 30, 2008 @ 9:16 pm

  3. Terry Sweetman got it right. The bogey man of factions is used by mothers to scare their children. Spence got elected because was was Parer’s preferred successor and the State Council relied on Parer’s opinion knowing both men were largely untested quantities.
    Most of State Council has no idea what they are voting on from one month to the next, hah!

    Comment by Doug — March 30, 2008 @ 10:36 pm

  4. I have – on this, the 32nd anniversary of my financial and social ruin because of Liberals treachery – no interest whatsoever in which squabbling nonentity is or is not lording it over which compulsive schemer …. or the other way around.
    If Australia is to avoid becoming a One Party state [and that is neither impossible nor necessarily abhorrent] then we need to have a functioning Opposition, not a shower-of-sh*t.
    My own preference would be to have a reinvigorated Australia Democrats as that Opposition – but since they are as poor as church-mice and lack the resources to fill that role effectively just yet, I have no choice but to look at the two booby-prizes, the two parties that have striven so hard to deserve political annihilation: the Liberals and the Nationals.
    I’m unrealistically optimistic so I think a silk purse could possibly be made out of a sow’s ear – but only if the brawling overgrown spoilt kiddies inside the Liberal Party were chastised and sent to their rooms without supper.

    Comment by Graham Bell — April 1, 2008 @ 11:12 pm

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