September 04, 2004 | Unknown

The Queensland Liberal Party: Barmy One Day, Crazy the Next

As someone whose practical knowledge of factions has been limited to a few meetings at the Paddington Workers’ Club, these bodies formed to bolster careers and/or shared ideological commitments often bewilder, even if they do have a valid part to play in our political system.
It was thus a shock to learn that if I had joined the Queensland Branch of the Liberal Party of Australia instead of the ALP after my brief fling with the Democrats, I would have been puzzled no more, because in the Smart State the Liberals are sans factions.
Yes, according to Liberal Party State Director Greene, who obviously thinks the rest of us are too, “there is no factionalism in the Liberal Party in this state…”
Without doubt, this would be news to “grouping” leader Santo Santoro, who if the Liberals were a soap opera would be the power bitch in shoulder pads, and his new best buddy, the Federal Member for Ryan, Michael Johnson.
Apart from stalking his constituents at Christmas with season’s greetings, Johnson is notorious for bringing in the numbers from Hong Kong and sometimes places that are only a twenty-hour flight from Brisbane.
My Ambit Gambit colleague, Graham Young, who I understand is associated with the Liberals in some way, is conversant with the internal workings of the party in a way I as an outsider can never be.
Nevertheless, an article in The Australian regarding Russell Galt’s allegations about Senator George Brandis, or “ratgate” as nobody is calling it, informed that the Queensland Branch has four factions.
Moreover, the piece hinted that these alliances function not unlike girls’ cliques at high school, with shifting and contentious alignments.
Two of them apparently contain former “friends” of Santo, and these ex-pals obviously really, really, truly, truly do not like him anymore.
In such an environment, name-calling of the “lying rodent” variety and other nastiness does not seem out of place, even if it is directed at the electorally successful leader of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party, albeit by those who back his would-be successor for the leadership.
Geoff Greene’s statement appears absurd in light of the reality of the “dysfunctional” organisation.
It also seems unwise at a time when Liberal probity is being called into question.
Former ministerial adviser Mike Scrafton’s assertions about Prime Minister John Howard’s awareness of the real story behind ‘children overboard’ surely demands the question be answered.
In light of Scrafton’s claims, it is interesting to note that the Liberal vote is being reinvorigated in some marginal seats, as reported in The Courier Mail today.
Unfortunately, this might confirm the notion that the Australian people do not give a rats, fibbing or otherwise, about the matter (if I was a kid I would make sure I was always wearing floaties).
Just as ‘children overboard’ was expedient politics at its worst, so is Howard’s call to consign it to the dustbin of history.
Alas, it looks like this sort of politics is, once again, working.
Despite the controversy, the Liberals are respectively polling 10% and 6% ahead of the Labor Party in Dickson and Hinkler, but one must suspect this is despite rather than because of the cantankerous Queensland party machine.
Darlene can be contacted at or go to

Posted by Unknown at 3:34 pm | Comments Off on The Queensland Liberal Party: Barmy One Day, Crazy the Next |
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