12 May 2008

One for the price of two

The Liberal Party and the Nationals in Queensland are set to merge, apparently. Clearly, they're at the stage of:"if not this, what? If not now, when?".

I thought initially that such a merger would produce three parties (not just the united LNPQ but separate Liberals and Nationals who'd never wear the merger) rather than one, but despite the belligerent opening of this article, clearly this isn't so. George Brandis has sold his Liberal birthright for the potage of his own preselection, and Barnaby Joyce has toned down the rustic jihad against the big smoke.

The two state presidents have thrown all their political capital behind the merger and so have all the MPs and party heavies - so too, for what it's worth, has Brendan Nelson. All the conservative eggs are in the merger basket. Opponents have been bought off or silenced. Hopefully professional political failure Simone Holzapfel will be kept well away from this: there's too much at stake for her defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory talents. The fix is in, and it would appear the alternative government of Queensland has actually succeeded in solving a political problem - the first step in convincing Queenslanders it could handle their state government.

Not everyone agrees: Mark Bahnisch claims the merger is more fragile than Borg's happy-talk would have it, and Andrew Bartlett agrees that there's less to it than meets the eye, despite the misgivings of Graham Young.
While the Nationals have been promoting "The Borg" as the answer to everything in Queensland state politics, the one person who really does have the potential to change things is Mal Brough, and the effect of these manoueverings is to tend to marginalise Brough and give power to the people who have failed at every election for the last 10 years.

Brough has marginalised himself, particularly after his above-standard-swing example of electoral failure in Longman.

Still, you have to start somewhere. If people are going to talk about proposed corporate mergers like they're done deals, then why not this? The LNPQ seems more soundly based than, say, Westpac-St George, let alone the "mental" Allco-Qantas thing last year.

NSW may well follow if the Coalition loses the 2011 election, as it seems intent on doing. With NSW, the Nationals' game would be over. The Vics may also reconsider their position then as well, particularly if Peter Ryan fails.

The merger puts Warren Truss in an interesting position. One would assume that Federal LNP MPs would sit with whichever Coalition Party they felt most comfortable, as happens with the NT CLP. Fancy having a political party (the Nationals) where neither the leader nor the deputy are actual members of the party they lead!

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