Earlier this year 97% of Queensland Nationals and 86% of Queensland Liberals voted to merge their parties. Now it's on the rocks. It takes real political stupidity to mess up such a decisive mandate. And you wonder why nobody joins political parties any more.
the Liberal state council last night resolved to defer a convention which was intended to ratify the proposal.
See, it didn't resolve to sink it, or propose something better. It proposed to dither until it starved to death. Nice one - Anna Bligh must really be quaking in her boots.
"This is a victory for common sense for the Liberal Party and its future in Queensland," said former Queensland Liberal president Bob Carroll after the meeting.
Leaving aside the question as to whether 'Bob Carroll' and 'common sense' are at all compatible, the fact is that 86% of Queensland Liberals voted for an outcome that he helped to scupper.
"The only issue was about the fact that under the merger proposition the president would be elected from the floor," the source said. "And that was in the agreement that the members voted on in a plebiscite with an 86per cent yes vote.
"That didn't satisfy the federal president [Alan Stockdale] or (Queensland Liberal president) Mal Brough and that was the basis that they believed it was unsatisfactory to proceed."
It is a sign of weakness that Stockdale and Brough could not engineer such an outcome beforehand. 86% of Queensland Liberals voted for this outcome regardless of who the president might have been. Stockdale, Brough and Carroll thought that the job of President was more important than the thousands of members who voted for the merger.
Queensland Liberal senator Sue Boyce also reported receiving threatening emails from the chairmen of two Brisbane-based Liberal federal electorate councils.
One email warned that her anti-merger stance would "long be remembered". The second email warned the stance of federal MPs on the issue would have "implications" for their future.
C'mon Sue, smoke 'em out. They've got 14% of the vote, you could take the stick to them if you wanted to. Let's have one moderate with some guts.
The state council meeting was called by Mr Brough at the last minute. He had called for the convention to be deferred in line with federal party wishes. "It is clear that with this matter unresolved, this party will not be a division of the Liberal Party," he had said.
You say that like it's a bad thing.
"If the convention goes ahead, it will be in the full knowledge that we have not been able to reach a resolution that has been satisfactory to the federal party."
How about you inform the members and let them decide for themselves? Oh wait, you did that.
Queensland Liberal leader Mark McArdle said Mr Stockdale should have called a meeting of the party's federal executive to debate the issue. "You cannot, in my opinion, this close to a convention, pull the rug out from the rights of members," he said.
Federal executive would have voted against the Queenslanders. The other part of McArdle's analysis is spot on, though. This guy has 86% of Liberals with him: why can't he rally them to their own cause rather than just whining?
Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce had said the Nationals would reject the merger if a vote on the presidency were not allowed. "There are plenty on our side who don't want this party," Senator Joyce said.
No there aren't. 97% of Qld Nats in favour, that means 3% against - a small minority, Senator, even by the standards of a profoundly undemocratic party.
I realise that all of the foregoing makes it look like I'm supporting people like the ridiculous Santoro ahead of more sensible people like Boyce and Brandis. What this gets back to, however, is the question of what it means to be a member of a political party, for those who don't want to be politicians themselves. If you're going to scupper a merger, say so up front and take your chances with those who elect you. The executive have voted against their membership; now the executive's challenge is to elect themselves a new membership.
Update: Members overrode Brough and the merger went ahead after all. My favourite bit was this:
Mr Brough said he didn't know what his politcal future held.
"There's absolutely a career in politics if I want it, becuse that has been made very clear to me by my colleagues down south," he said.
"But whether or not I intend to do that or not is another thing all together, that's not a decision I've made."
While you're making your decision Mal, consider three things. First, your political career going forward really depends on you not telling conservative forces in the country's third-biggest state to get fucked, as you did. Second, the only thing you ever did was put out a press release about Aborigines in the Northern Territory, and it is not to spite you that they are busy cleaning up after you. Third, this is the same outfit that can't work out why the Coalition is in opposition at all, and considers Peter Costello a viable Liberal leader one day.