Two bizarre opponents have emerged to make life agonisingly difficult for the embattled Queensland Premier Campbell Newman in the closing days of the campaign for the state election on January 31.
Mining billionaire Clive Palmer and Alan Jones, the millionaire commercial radio ham, have commenced personal vendettas against Newman alleging he is a “liar” and describing his LNP government as the worst in Australia.
Their two scripts have a remarkable similarity and there is no doubt about their common aim – to rubbish Newman and secure his defeat in the Brisbane seat of Ashgrove.
Palmer is on the record as saying he wants to shove Newman into “the oblivions of history” and if any of his PUP candidates are elected he wants them to “repeal every single Act that’s ever been introduced by the Newman Government”. (Sunshine Coast Daily, 7 January 2015).
Jones, aka “The Parrot”, who is broadcasting on every morning until election day on Brisbane’s 4BC, has denounced Newman as a bully and as being incapable of running a chook raffle.
The Palmer-Jones campaign has taken people by surprise since both men are rabid conservatives with long histories of supporting pro-business governments like Newman’s.
Palmer was a white shoe brigade cheerleader for Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the premier whose scandalous era prompted the Fitzgerald royal commission, while Jones has made several attempts to become a Liberal politician and has unfailingly supported Liberal state and federal governments.
At the last Queensland election in 2012, Palmer was a prominent financial backer for Newman who switched from Brisbane lord mayor to become premier.
Subsequently, the two men had a public falling out over delays affecting mining projects in which Palmer had a commercial interest and they have been at war ever since.
Jones, born in the Darling Downs town of Oakey, began taking a keen interest in Newman’s future when his Sydney commercial Sydney network went national following a merger agreement in December with Fairfax Media’s radio assets.
Chasing ratings (and advertising dollars) in his home state, Jones scheduled a daily bucketing of the unpopular premier which is providing a surprise source of entertainment.
Matters took a serious turn 24 hours ago when Palmer and Jones were joined by Ian Leavers, president of the Queensland Police Union, who raised Newman’s “I” (integrity) factor to a new level.
“Campbell Newman looked me in the eye and he lied to me (over increasing police numbers)”, Leavers said. “If you’re going to lie to a police officer, you’ll lie to anyone.”
Will the combined intervention of PUP, “The Parrot” and the cops influence voters on January 31? Latest polls have PUP imploding to 3% support and Jones is regarded as a “turncoat”, a Queenslander who unforgivably supports the NSW Blues in rugby league and rugby union. He may be the darling of clients in NSW nursing homes but they aren’t on the electoral rolls north of the border.
But when the cops start calling the premier a liar, the well-heeled and university-educated residents of Ashgrove sit up and take notice.
Perhaps it’s time to say, “Bye, bye, Campbell”.
Abbott looks a goner
The days are numbered for Tony Abbott, aka the Mad Monk. If he survives this year – and I don’t expect him to – he will tear apart the Liberal Party in a final act of bastardry. It’s what Groupers do: it’s a form of sociopathy which derives from their religious dogmatism.
His party room is full of newly-minted MPs who have suddenly realised they might become one-termers and, heaven forbid, may have to go back to work to earn a living.
They owe no loyalty to Abbott. He was not responsible for them winning their seats. They won because the electorate was sick and tired of Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Labor’s hopeless policy decisions.
Every new prime minister arrives in office with a handful of personal “advisers” who believe that they are now in charge and start directing operations.
The PM’s first duty is to dump these galoots as quickly as possible and then get on with running the country with the help of senior civil service and Cabinet colleagues.
Even John Howard executed his coterie of “Quadrant” nutters in the first 12 months, but Abbott shows no sign of shedding his coterie. If this is out of a sense of loyalty then it is misplaced. People like Maurice Newman (who has the worst makeover in Australia), Tony Shepherd and Dick Warburton should be put out to pasture and barred from the PM’s office. Ditto 44-year-old Peta Credlin, his ultra-loyal chief of staff.
Abbott has ignored this iron law of politics and they will all go down the drain with him.
You know that the numbers are shifting against Abbott when Michael Kroger puts his hand up to become president of the Victorian Liberal Party. The other candidate immediately withdraws her nomination and the well-connected Kroger takes command.
It was Kroger who blamed Abbott for the defeat of Denis Napthine’s government in Victoria last November and he has reached the conclusion that Abbott cannot win the next Federal Election in 2016.
The dump Abbott movement will gather momentum when the putschists agree on a successor. The trouble is that the “wet” Joe Hockey faction favours Malcolm Turnbull while the hard right fancy Scott Morrison.
The demented Julie Bishop, the worst foreign minister since the idler Alexander Downer, has a tiny coterie of fans but the misogynist majority won’t cop the “hot” Barbie Doll from Perth at any price.
Scots wha hae*
On the day of Scotland’s independence referendum, last September 18, the Scottish National Party’s membership stood at 25,642. Now it is 95,000, making the SNP the fastest growing political party in the UK, and it is aiming for 100,000 by the time of the General Election in May.
It is now the third largest party in Britain behind Labour (193,000 members) and the Conservatives (130,000).
The latest opinion polls show the SNP is enjoying a large lead over Labour for forthcoming elections to Westminster and Holyrood.
In the closing days of the referendum campaign the Scottish Labour Party and two former Labour Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, both joined the Tory Camp of Treason to recommend a vote against independence. As a consequence, Labour faces a wipe-out in Scotland at the General Election and the SNP is likely to emerge as the largest party north of the border.
The huge irony is that the SNP will win so many seats that it could play a kingmaker role to defeat the Cameron Government and put the treacherous Labourites in office. The conditions for such a breathtaking deal would be the removal of Her Majesty’s Royal nuclear warships from Scottish waters and the transfer of extensive new powers from London to Edinburgh. Watch this space.
Cynics are saying that the quadrupling of SNP membership since the referendum defeat shows that the Scots remain emotionally wedded to Lost Causes.
But perhaps it represents the unquenchable striving of Scots – as well as many other world minorities – to establish their national identity, culture and future.
FOOTNOTE: The Barngaria people of South Australia this week gained native title over 44,500 square kilometres of their tribal land covering about two-thirds of the Eyre Peninsula.
Justice John Mansfield of the Federal Court gave judgement in favour of the indigenous applicants who have waged a two-decade struggle for native title over a land area between Port Augusta and Port Lincoln and the surrounding land and seas.
He found that the Aboriginal people’s title had not been extinguished in the century and a half since British settlement. Get it?
• Scots who have, a poem by Robert Burns, now the SNP’s anthem and sung at the party’s annual conference.