July 25, 2005 | Graham

Primo amigo?

The resignation from parliament today of Queensland Treasurer Terry Mackenroth forces Premier Peter Beattie to take a position on a by-election quinella. It also gives Liberal Party State President Michael Caltabiano a decisive part to play in proving that the Queensland Liberal Party is fit to help provide Labor with a decent opposition.
In a blog post entitled “Los Trios Amigos” I suggested that Mackenroth would go this term (one for my nascent experts database?) and that Caltabiano should contest the seat. The two other amigos were Councillor Tim Nichols and Senator Santo Santoro, but I was hesitant about those two predictions.
Here’s what I said:

Some parts of this rumour have more substance than others, such as the one involving Caltabiano. There is a general expectation that MLA for Chatsworth, Terry MacKenroth will retire some time before the next state election. Michael Caltabiano, who is also the Liberal Party State President, represents the ward of Carindale which includes much of MacKenroth’s territory. Caltabiano’s vote is north of 60% and the Liberal Party won two of the three federal seats in the area. Caltabiano is jaded with council. He is ambitious, but with Campbell Newman as Lord Mayor his options in council are limited.
He could be interested in getting out altogether and going back into the engineering business. According to some of his colleagues on a recent trip to China he made business contacts in the road paving industry. Before entering the council he had been a civil engineer with a company thats business was laying hot bitumen from recycled pavement.
But political ambition is still said to burn brightly, so a move into state politics could also be on the cards, which makes sense of the Chatsworth option. If he wins the seat, he would have a position on the Liberals’ frontbench and prospects of becoming leader, and maybe even premier, one day. If he loses he would go out on a high note, attempting to wrest a much needed seat from Labor, and he could settle down to make a mint.

Mackenroth’s seat has been represented by the Liberal Party before, and given the demographics of the suburb of Carindale, which it wholly contains, it ought to be Liberal. So it’s a reasonable risk for Caltabiano and one he can hardly refuse. Certainly if he does refuse he shouldn’t be able to look for a safer state seat preselection at a later date. This is his one and only opportunity.
The one problem that he does face is that Brisbane electors are not keen to see their representatives change from one level of government to another, particularly if they are a good representative. Clem Jones’ failed attempt to defeat Don Cameron in the 70s is a good example of this. Caltabiano therefore needs to position himself as being the only person who can take this opportunity to make Beattie more accountable, as well as quickly find a credible successor with community credentials for his ward. At least one name springs to mind, but I won’t put the kybosh on him by putting it in print.
BTW, as chance would have it I’m attending a function that Terry Mackenroth is addressing tomorrow morning. If anyone has any questions they’d like me to ask please send me an email or leave a comment. No guarantees, but all contributions will be thoughtfully considered.

Posted by Graham at 3:08 pm | Comments Off on Primo amigo? |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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