The sacking of Gympie region’s western districts MP Deb Frecklington as LNP state leader will be a big part of the background to an expected showdown this weekend between the party’s parliamentary and organisational wings.
Ms Frecklington, whose Nanango electorate takes in a large area of Gympie’s western districts, including Kilkivan, Goomeri and parts of Widgee, was removed as leader after Labor’s big win in the last Queensland election.
Most attribute her removal to machinations originating with party administrators, some of them later accused of fostering a “toxic culture” and having links to LNP rival Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party.
Ironically, her replacement, current leader David Crisafulli, will lead the charge to rebuild the party’s organisational wing and to cement the power of its parliamentary side.
,Mr Crisafulli has been reported as saying his leadership and the future of the LNP will ‘live or die’ on whether he reforms the party.
“My job is to get the LNP, my mob, fit for government,” Mr Crisafulli told interviewer Alan Jones earlier this year.
“I owe that, not to the big wigs but the people who are behind me, at the branches and in my electorate.
“If we are going to get generational reform, that begins with empowering the grass roots.
“We can no longer accept mediocrity and infighting, everybody must know their roles and responsibilities.”
The convention, at which branch members will have a lot of the say, will be held over three days starting today (Friday, 23 July) and ending on Sunday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to address the convention on Saturday.
The convention may also see a return of former LNP leader Lawrence Springborg, who was instrumental in forming the party, to unite the Liberal and National Parties in Queensland.
Mr Springborg has publicly announced his intention to contest the party presidency.
A victory for him would be an important part of the organisational cleanout Mr Crisafulli says the party needs.
Ms Frecklington’s party leadership is widely believed to have been white-anted by the LNP’s organisational wing, including by the leaking of damaging pre-election poll results, indicating she was not achieving serious traction among voters.
Mr Springborg, currently Mayor of Goondiwindi, says he will retain that position if successful in his run for the party presidency.
Mr Springborg, also a former Health Minister in the Campbell Newman Government, expressed similar aims to those of Mr Crisafulli, in a statement reported by the ABC.
“If successful, I look forward to ensuring that the LNP has the culture, capacity and policies to gain the approval of Queenslanders,” he said.
Mr Springborg was the Nationals’ state leader and became the LNP’s first parliamentary leader when the parties merged in 2008.
He was first elected to state parliament as MP for Carnarvon in 1989.
Aged 21, he was the youngest MP to be elected to the Queensland parliament.
Mr Springborg has promised a low-key style of presidency, with little public comment and a consultative style with branch members.