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Conservative disunity equals Peter Beattie

By Fiona Simpson - posted Thursday, 25 November 2004

Former State President of the Young Liberals, Nick Ferrett, argues the Queensland Nationals are in permanent decline at a State level (see On Line Opinion) and says all the Liberals need do is sit by and one day they will become the biggest party and government will fall into their laps.

Wonderful fairytale… it has been around since 1983 and before.

Now for the raw facts: At a state level, both conservative parties are suffering in Queensland. When the Coalition took office in 1996 the Nationals held 29 seats to the Liberals 15 seats - a ratio of 2:1. Today The Nationals hold 15 seats to the Liberals 5 seats - a ratio of three to one.


I do not put my head in the sand and claim the Nationals haven’t lost territory. But nor do I put my head in the sand and claim the Liberals haven’t lost great chunks of territory either - even being unable to reclaim the previously safe seats of Clayfield and Indooroopilly that were once “givens” in the Liberal parliamentary composition.

I also know that for as long as some sections of the Nationals cling to a view that they will once again govern in their own right and while some sections of the Liberals cling to a view that they should just sit and wait … and wait … and wait … as they have been for more than 20 years now, Queensland’s conservatives will go nowhere.

But what irks me most about those who argue against a merger is that they seem to have three things in common:

  1. they appear to be the factional warlords or their minions more interested in preserving factional power-bases than they are about winning government;
  2. they appear to subscribe to a “wait and one day it will happen” syndrome that frustrates conservative voters in Queensland who don’t care “didley-squat” about territory wars between The Nationals and Liberals - they just want government; and
  3. they are insistent that rank and file members of the party are not only denied an opportunity to see the “road-map”, but also will be denied an opportunity to have a vote.

What buoys me however, is the growing support in the Liberal Party for the merger proposal. It’s support that would not be there if the “road-map to unity” (available on: wasn’t a fair one.  Support from key Liberals such as Michael Kroger, Joan Sheldon, Cameron Thompson, Warren Entsch, Alex Somlyay and Peter Slipper cannot be dismissed lightly.

Merging the two-parties is not the lonely brainchild of Lawrence Springborg. Rather it is a shared view of thousands of conservative members and supporters who want the Nationals and Liberal party to take the fight up to Labor - not each other.


To those who oppose uniting the two parties I ask this: If your arguments are so strong, what have you to fear from letting your rank and file membership decide? Why are you threatening to send supporters to a party disciplinary committee? Whatever happened to the core liberal philosophies of freedom and open-thought? I have nothing to fear from the rank and file membership.

What I want to see is one party with one identity, one direction and one goal. And it’s also, I’m sure, what voters want. They are desperately looking for a strong and united alternative to Beattie and Labor, who have failed to deliver infrastructure, failed to deliver disciplined classrooms for our kids, failed to deliver on hospital waiting-lists and failed to pass the most elementary standards of accountability.

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About the Author

Fiona Simpson MP is the Nationals' Queensland Member for Maroochydore, Shadow Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Shadow Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Shadow Minister for Women.

Related Links
Ambit Gambit - Courier Mail plays Sancho Panza
Ambit Gambit - Springborg's Pineapple Party defies the federal election result
On Line Opinion - The Liberals' time will come, they don't need the Nationals
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