June 09, 2008 | Graham

For the Liberals, how many is a majority?

The Queensland Liberals are busy polling their members on whether or not they want a merged party. The plebiscite is non-binding and is extra-constitutional.
There are some potential problems with the plebiscite. The largest is what exactly members are voting for. The voting paper is fairly bald. The proposition is:

Do you support merging the Liberal Party of Australia (QLD Division) and the National Party of Australia – Queensland into a new merged entity called the Liberal National Party of Queensland, a Division of The Liberal Party of Australia?

The ballot paper is accompanied by a loaded pamphlett entitled “Our opportunity to win back Queensland” and contains a number of propositions which relate to the draft constitution as currently worded.
New Liberal President Mal Brough has indicated that he wants to see changes to the draft constitution. I have not heard yet whether he has been successful, but if he is successfull, the result will be that it will be anyone’s guess what the plebiscite actually favours. It is reasonable to think that most will use the pamphlett as a guide to their voting decision, so any change in the arrangements will tend to qualify the result.
That is apart from the fact that the document is obviously prejudicial to the “No” case.
All of which leads to the question of whether a majority vote of the plebiscite is enough to lead to the Liberals amalgamating.
Mal Brough has said words to the effect that he doesn’t want to see a large rump left behind.
At the same time many grass roots members who may have been holding their peace are apparently finding their voice. If they amount to 25 to 40 percent of the membership, and there is a change in the terms of the draft constitution, where does that leave the party?
Could the majority, in all conscience, support a merger under those conditions?

Posted by Graham at 3:57 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. The question of a Liberals/Nationals merger has been bandied about for so many years that perhaps the Liberals’ membership thinks it’s nothing to worry about. Mal Brough should be using his time as president of the Queensland Liberals to be preparing for the state elections rather than worrying about this kind of matter. Although the Liberals would really have nothing to lose by trying out the merger to see if it improves the Queensland Coalition’s electoral success.

    Comment by Alex Schlotzer — June 9, 2008 @ 8:12 pm

  2. Very good point Graham. There has been absolutely no indication whatsoever from those conducting the plebiscite about what percentage of the party needs to say Yes for the parties to amalgamate.
    In any normal organization such a motion would require 75% of the room to pass.
    I think a No Vote of any more than 25%-30% of the party should ring alarm bells.

    Comment by Qld Liberal — June 9, 2008 @ 11:14 pm

  3. Looking on the floor of Convention I think it’s safe to say the merger vote will come with over 80% in favour.
    The more important issue for the Liberals presently is that it will shortly run into serious money troubles, and the Nats are their only way out of the mess. The dire financial position (due to the recalcitrance of candidates to cough up for campaign budgets) is such that the Division will struggle to finance the next State campaign.
    If the Libs have been completely honest to the Nats about their financial position I can’t understand why the Nats would be touching this terminal Party at all.

    Comment by Doug — June 10, 2008 @ 11:51 am

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