Newman’s huge Hail Mary play for Queensland’s top job
The Liberal-National Party in Queensland is planning something so ballsy that it leaves Tony Abbott’s Speedos - and his perceived political mileage of wearing them - looking a little empty.
Queensland’s Conservatives are in meltdown today as Campbell ``Messiah’’ Newman announced he would resign from his post as Brisbane Lord Mayor and run for a state seat in the next election.
Newman will run a US Presidential-like campaign by standing as the Leader of the LNP after he is pre-selected (already a done deal), despite not being elected to Parliament.
An interim Opposition caretaker head will lead the party in Parliament. Newman will take the leader’s position if he wins his seat.
The plan is for Newman to campaign heavily outside Brisbane when Parliament starts. His focus will be on the cost of living and transport.
He will announce LNP policies and he will be the talking head to take the fight against Labor.
It may be described as ``absurd’’ and a last minute move by ``desperate men’’ but the manoeuvre has been in train - albeit in its infancy - for weeks.
He will run in the seat of Ashgrove (that deal was only sealed last night after preselected candidate Aaron Dillaway graciously stepped aside for Newman) and against up-and-comer Labor Minister Kate Jones.
And it’s no wonder John-Paul Langbroek and his deputy Lawrence Springborg quit from their frontbench positions today, given a backroom deal had been done.
Who will point their handup to be caretaker Opposition leader - and face intense ridicule - is unclear.
And as timing would have it, next week will be 12 months until the next council election, meaning when Newman officially pulls the pin from his Mayoral day job, the Liberal Party can replace him with one of their own rather than going to the polls. Under current legislation Newman has to resign.
Put by one powerbroker, it would be similar to what Newman did when he ran for Lord Mayor - running as leader before actually obtaining the democratic vote.
Gobsmacked Labor sources say it is akin to the the National’s 1987 botched ``Joh for PM’’ campaign, which was ultimately thwarted by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke when he called a snap election.
However, LNP insiders, who are chuffed by their own brilliance, say it’s nothing that Labor has tried in the past.
In 1972, former Brisbane Mayor Clem Jones won preselection for the ALP in the seat of Yeronga. He lost and then had a go at the seat of Griffith, currently held by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Jones lost that as well but the legislation at the time meant he didn’t have to quit his post at council.
LNP MPs can’t believe party bosses have no faith in those elected in Parliament and have hit out at president Bruce McIver for overstepping the mark.
``He doesn’t understand politics’‘, one claimed.
Newman admits what he is doing is a risk but LNP bosses have been banging on his door for too long.
Newman - who ran a campaign as ``Can Do Campbell’’ during his first council campaign in 2004, said he respected Mr Langbroek.
``But I believe that I am the one to lead the team forward,’’ he said today.
``We need to deal with a very bad Labor state government that has given us all sorts of problems across Queensland.’’
The problem for Langbroek, or JP as he is called in Queensland, is that the former dentist is like those television advertisements in the 1990s - ``This man is a dentist, that’s why we cannot show you his face’‘.
JP is a shadow of a politician. He is regarded as a nice guy but lacking the political grit to take on Bligh and the well-funded and well-organised ALP party machine.
Internal polling showed that the LNP under John-Paul (JP) Langbroek would not win on a two-party preferred basis. It’s vote would reach 52-48 but it would not been enough to comfortably snare victory.
Newman, on the otherhand, became a hero for Queensland councils when he appeared to take on - and win - a fight with Canberra over money for re-building Queensland after floods and cyclones. The polling showed he could beat Premier Anna Bligh.
But Labor has warned that Newman and the LNP have overplayed their hand.
1. They argue Kate Jones is a great MP, a hardworker with a margin of about 7 perthcent.
2. They say the caretaker leader plot is a recipe for disaster because the Queensland public will not know who they are voting for.
3. There’s no guarantee Newman will have the support of the LNP partyroom if he wins.
Anna Bligh now has the opportunity to show she has more balls than the LNP - simply by calling a snap election.
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