Some 350 years ago Britain was plunged into a bitter Civil War which saw the forces of Parliament and the King pitted against each other. At the height of the conflict Cromwell, believing Parliament was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the
"You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."
The time has now arrived for the State Executive of the Liberal Party in Queensland to heed Cromwell’s advice.
Executive’s stewardship over recent years, and over the past twelve months in particular, has been characterised by incompetence, failure, lack of imagination and an unprecedented degree of short-sightedness. It is this record that led the
Liberal Party to its worst electoral defeat in over 50 years.
On 17 February the Liberal Party received 14.3% of the vote and returned 3 members to State Parliament. Until this election the nadir of the Liberal Party’s performance had been in 1983 with 14.9% of the vote and 8 members returned. However,
when it is recalled that that election saw the ending of the Coalition after 26 years in office and unprecedented bitterness between the Liberal and National Parties, the 2001 result is even more appalling.
The one consolation in 2001 is that the Liberal Party outpolled its Coalition partners, the Nationals, by some 3,500 votes. However, with the combined Coalition vote not even reaching 29 % this is cold comfort indeed. The Liberal Party cannot
hope to win government by simply outpolling the Nationals.
There is no doubt that State Executive was aware of the task ahead of it. In the State Executive report to the 2000 State Convention the President , Con Galtos, stated:
"There is a huge amount of work needed, not only from our Parliamentary Party, but also from the organization, in order to wrest power from this increasingly out of touch Labor administration …".
Robin Fardoulys, State Vice-President and Chairman of the Central Campaign Committee, outlined the Liberal Party’s electoral objectives to the State Convention:
"The challenge at the next State election will be to pick up the ground lost in 1998 and the challenge is one for both the parliamentary wing and the organisation working together to break down the popularity of the current State
Government and to capture ground in a strategic and focussed manner."
In 1998 the Liberal Party lost 6 of its 15 seats and saw its vote plummet from 22.7% in 1995 to a mere 16.1%. There is little doubt that this can be attributed to the foolish decision, championed by then Party President, Bob Carroll, to reward
One Nation candidates with Liberal preferences.
Not only did the Party fail to win back these votes and seats in 2001 it suffered further reverses – an additional 1.8% of the vote was lost as were another 6 seats. In less than six years the Liberal Party lost nearly 40% of its State
voting support and 80% of its State parliamentarians.
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