May 14, 2008 | Graham

Due diligence

In a rare show of cross party charity Southport Labor MP Peter Lawlor urged the National Party to be careful with their due diligence on the Queensland Liberals. Lawlor’s immediate concern was the $1 million debt that the Liberal Party carries, which he thinks was amassed losing the last Gold Coast City Council election. That was this morning.
This afternoon the Liberal Party Parliamentary leadership is adding to the due diligence pitfalls as it tries to convince the Liberals’ State Council to illegally cancel their annual convention. Their excuse for this is, unsurprisingly in an entity which appears to be trading insolvently, the cost of holding two conventions. You can read the McArdle/Nicholls epistle here. The real reasons appear to be a little more complex.
The National Party should try to dissuade the Liberals State Council from a cancellation. The whole amalgamation is legally enough fraught as it is, without introducing matters which could easily be challenged by disgrunteld current members of the Liberal Party.
Under its constitution, the Liberal Party is obliged to have an Annual Convention in each calendar year. It failed to hold one last year. The result of that is that thirteen members of the State Council are probably not entitled to hold office as they are required to be elected annually, or at Convention. This includes the President and Vice-Presidents. Any decision of State Council in which they participated could be tainted, even if they abstained from voting.
The annual convention is also the supreme governing body of the party, and 80 days notice must be given of its meeting. I doubt that an inferior body, the State Council, can defer the meeting of state convention once notices have been sent out, and even if it could, it would need to give 80 days notice of a fresh annual convention, making it impossible to meet the deadlines set out in the McArdle/Nicholls document.
So why would two lawyers put their names to such a request? The only argument that appears to make sense is that this is a move by the Santoro faction to forestall the membership from taking control of the party and replacing Spence with Brough. It can’t be related to the merger. Not only were the Santoro forces branding Brough as pro-amalgamation when he first announced he would run for president, and they were opposed to it, but there is no sign that Brough is particularly opposed to it at the moment. His arguments appear to be with the lack of due process.
This would also explain two days of fiery rows in the Liberal Party room with first Ray Stevens, and today Bruce Flegg, having heated arguments with Mark McArdle and storming out.
McArdle also appears to have been operating unilaterally, with his colleagues reliant on the media to keep them informed. A number apparently found out about the revised merger proposals when he stumbled into a press scrum at Parliament House last Saturday morning.
Why would the National Party want to buy into this mess? Proper due diligence might well suggest that rather than taking the Liberal Party over they should put it into quarantine. Closer association with this mob could be worse for their constituents than horse flu and chicken flu all together.

Posted by Graham at 6:03 pm | Comments (11) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I have been a proud member of the Liberal Party for almost 20 years, and I despair at the way things are going at the moment.
    Spence is just the latest incarnation of the Santoro faction that has plagued the party for years. Undoubtedly Santoro has realised that he will need to embrace the merger idea if he is to maintain control.
    Living on the Sunshine Coast, I have know Leader Mark McArdle for sometime now. Up until now I have always found to be a decent, respectable individual. However, this incident just demonstrates that he is spineless, weak individual that he can’t even stand-up to factional powerbrokers like Spence.
    Come on Liberals – get real.

    Comment by Unhappy Liberal — May 14, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

  2. I am a relatively new member of the Liberal Party and in my little under two years as a member there has NEVER been a state convention. It baffles me how it is constitutional, to say nothing of ethical, to actively prevent the right of members to choose their leadership.
    This is clearly just a last-ditch attempt by Santo to hold on to his power. Spence is nothing more than a Santo stooge who wants to continue the divisive reign of the far-right Santoro faction.
    It is ironic that a party that goes to great lengths to convince the Australian people that IT is the party of democracy cant practice it at home.

    Comment by MrEd — May 15, 2008 @ 10:52 am

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