November 06, 2006 | Graham

ABS wins the day at Liberal Convention

Various people are portraying it as a victory for their faction, but the only thing that can be said with certainty about last weekend’s Queensland Liberal Party convention is that it was a defeat for Santo Santoro. Whether it will remain a defeat for long remains to be seen. The Anyone But Santo (ABS) grouping is triumphant for now, but Santoro’s come back from much worse positions than this before.
The Santoro faction was shaping up to lay the blame for the state election result on parliamentary leader Bruce Flegg. Instead they lost every position that they contested, bar two. One of those was the Presidency, where the anti-Santoro forces made a decision to leave Warwick Parer in place. The other was the Northern Vice-President. This is a stunning reversal from the last 7 years of conventions where Santoro and allies have always been able to comfortably dominate the elections.
Santoro’s reversal of fortune was achieved largely because of one factor – Ryan MP Michael Johnson moved his troops from the Santoro side of the ledger to that occupied by the “Tucker” faction. This also involved a similar movement by the Carroll/Brandis faction.
I put “Tucker” in inverted commas because from what I see Tucker wasn’t a significant player in these arrangements. In fact, if the new alignments are to endure, they involve legitimising and accepting Johnson as Ryan MP and George Brandis as Senator. So, inasumuch as there are winners from this arrangement it is Brandis and Johnson. They originally aligned with Santoro because he was prepared to support them against Tucker, they’ve now aligned against him because they have fallen out with him and were concerned about their preselections. In the meantime both have contributed significantly to the corruption of the party organisation and its processes.
Not that the Tucker faction has gone away empty-handed. Flegg’s position is strengthened, and some of their members, most notably John Caris, one of the newly-elected Vice-Presidents, are well-positioned to turn-around the party’s organisational wing – a necessary task if they are ever to do well in elections again.
Their most urgent task will be to expand the unlikely coalition that they have put together. Despite the shambles that Santoro has created of the party organisation, the “rainbow coalition”, as they like to call themselves, only won most votes by about 10%, meaning that Santoro supporters, despite everything, represent around 40 to 45 percent of delegates. (Somewhere around 40 delegates who were expected to vote against Santoro were ruled constitutionally ineligible, so the margin may be a little more comfortable.)
A good place to start would be bringing some of their enemies into the tent on the various committees of the party. They should also look at reforming the election process for executive positions which virtually guarantee the winning side a clean sweep of positions. It’s worked in their favour this time, but won’t always do so. The lack of diversity on the executive that it creates has been one of the problems of the last few years.
They also need to move Warwick Parer along from the Presidency along with State Director Geoff Greene. For Queenslanders to have any confidence in the party, and be prepared to risk voting for it, there needs to be a clean sweep and a fresh start.

Posted by Graham at 8:51 am | Comments (14) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. And here I was thinking that the Australian Bureau of Statistics had finally made a grand entree into politics. I was even imagining their policy suite – annual censuses, universal smartcards, compulsory probability training for all schoolkids….

    Comment by Andrew Leigh — November 6, 2006 @ 10:08 am

  2. I think the people who coined the phrase probably had “anti-lock braking system” in mind! This is middle Australia.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 6, 2006 @ 10:26 am

  3. What a joke. They will fail miserably. And what will the Division do without Santo’s fundraising powers? This is a big mistake, given the party is virtually insolvent now.

    Comment by R — November 6, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

  4. Santo’s fundraising powers? Don’t you realise you’ve contradicted yourself? Santo was the chief fundraiser for the last year, yet you say the party is just about broke. So who would you blame for that?

    Comment by Graham Young — November 6, 2006 @ 2:51 pm

  5. It’s hard to sell something when it doesn’t smell/look too good (i.e. leadership). That has alot to do with the fundraising results of the last year, not the guy doing the fundraising. The Rainbow Alliance better put their money where their mouth (vote) is.

    Comment by G — November 6, 2006 @ 3:07 pm

  6. So maybe Santoro and Caltabiano shouldn’t have spent so much time trying to knock Quinn off. If the party was in such a state that it was impossible to raise funds, Santoro should accept the blame – he’s been running the organisation. With Santoro out of the way, at least for a while, there’s an opportunity to make the Liberal Party marketable again.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 6, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

  7. You know very well (probably better than most) that the Organisational wing is separate to the Parliamentary wing of the Party. The public and business generally only see the Parliamentary and not the Organisational. If you don’t have an effective Parliamentary Team then the fundraising for the Organisational wing is almost impossible.

    Comment by G — November 6, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

  8. Surely “G” wouldn’t be Geoff Greene posting on Graham Young’s blog????
    Probably the most stupid decision the Queensland Liberal Party has made in the last 2 years was preselecting Mark Powell for the number 3 senate spot in the next election. The guy is lifelong staffer (at the ripe age of 28!) with a rap sheet a mile long. When the dirt comes out he will most certainly lose and thus put the government’s senate majority in jeopardy.
    Stoopid stoopid.

    Comment by No, this is not Graham Jaeschke — November 6, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

  9. I will await to see the rivers of gold.

    Comment by R — November 6, 2006 @ 5:16 pm

  10. “No, this is not Graeme Jaeschke” you all look like the same person to me, and I doubt you’re Geoff Greene.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 6, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

  11. the in-fighting of political gangsters would be amusing, if it did not represent the only significant political activity of the nation.
    is there no one in australia who is able to tell the difference between oligarchy and democracy? people continually complain about the natural results of our political system- but never take the next step, by saying:
    “therefore, if we want better outcomes, we need a better system.”
    there is a better system, aristotle called it ‘democracy’. if australia had democracy, it would have long-term policies supporting the goals of the people concerning health, education, and environmental sustainability.
    but australians have been continually told that oligarchy is democracy, and they have come to believe it. until they breakout of this mental enslavement, they will ‘chatter’ about politics, but do nothing.
    the failure of the australian democrat party to discuss these matters in public has condemned the party to irrelevance.

    Comment by alfred loomis — November 8, 2006 @ 7:01 am

  12. all nicely said alfred loomis but what are you doing about it?

    Comment by G — November 8, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

  13. That’s all very interesting, but why not list the names and positions elected as well?

    Comment by Slim — November 13, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

  14. I will Slim, as soon as I’m sure I have the right numbers. Probably another post though.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 13, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

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