Saturday 22 May 2010

Saturday SoapBlog: Chris Forsberg: Alas, a lack of Liberalism - and Nationalism

Public relations and communications consultant and long-time political observer, Chris Forsberg takes aim at what he calls a lack of liberalism - and nationalism on offer for Far North Queensland voters.

A spruiker by day and political prestidigitator by night, Chris has worked with independent MP Bob Katter and election campaigns for Cairns mayor Val Schier. Chris Forsberg is also the publicity officer for the new North Queensland Party. May God help them both.

Condolences are due - overdue - to all Far Northerners who voted for the Liberal National Party - that forced marriage of two totally incompatible parties that brands itself as the "LNP."

Revelations on CairnsBlog and in The Cairns Post that things are not at all well with the four local branches of the LNP are nothing new to Far North Queensland political junkies who have spent a few years monitoring the local conservatives' collective determination to self-destruct.

To comprehend the latest outrage, it is necessary to examine the chaotic state of the local Liberal Party before the merger. Party activists like Diedre and Colin Ford and [Cairns Councillor] Alan Blake alienated a fair share of rank and file members – and contributed to a long list of failed campaigns.

Electable candidates like economist Bill Cummings, tourism operator Steven Welch, Port Authority guru Bob Manning and lawyer Miles Thompson, were given no chance at all - because their notional Liberal supporters and campaign workers were more focused on arguing amongst themselves than getting their candidates 'over-the-line'.

Warren Entsch was smart enough to realise that he could never win Leichhardt by relying solely on his party's support - Wazza worked National Party networks throughout the region to achieve his three successive and well-deserved wins.

Yet Warren blew it too - by insisting that Charlie McKillop take his place. When Kevin Byrne correctly cautioned that Ms. McKillop was not an electable candidate - many local Liberals rounded-on Kevin Byrne, white-anting his mayoral re-election campaign, contributing substantially to Val Schier's un-expected victory.

These same former Liberals now criticize Cairns mayor Val Schier at every opportunity - conveniently forgetting the fact that they contributed fulsomely to her win.

Meanwhile, back in the bush, the moribund National Party was still licking it's wounds from the One Nation phenomenon – and fell prey to a suggestion from Lawrence Springborg that they should merge with the Liberals.

The Gnats weren't travelling all that well - even safe ministerial seats like Tom Gilmore's Tablelands had been lost to One Nation.

In spite of the spin from LNP headquarters that the merger has been a thundering success, the fact is precisely the opposite: a faction-divided Liberal Party has collided; with an old-fashioned agrarian socialist party, which at least wasn't split in to squabbling factions as were the Liberals. But nor was it anywhere near 'at the top of it's game' - had it had been so (as it was in the 'Joh era') a merger would never have been considered.

The Nationals themselves at the time of the merger were not fully aware of the bitterness and back-stabbing that had become 'normal' within the Liberal Party. The Libs then, and perhaps still, had a 'Sicilian faction' - a group of Italian-Australian MPs and senior party officials who wielded in-ordinate influence over party affairs, much to the disgust of Anglo-Saxon-descendent Liberals.

Note please that no Liberal could be accused of racism in respect of their loathing of players in the 'Sicilian faction' - the arguments were always over policies, personalities and, especially, perks - to their credit, the anti-Sicilian faction Libs never referred to their adversaries as 'wogs' or 'dagoes'. Well, never in public anyway.

These factional rivalries were reflected in all Liberal Party branches throughout Queensland - and no where more so than in FNQ. It isn't a case of these rivalries merely continuing to this day - they have intensified, dramatically, fueled in this latest instance by Dennis Quick's seemingly self-appointed role as Warren Entsch's campaign manager.

15 seriously aggrieved LNP members catalogued a litany of allegations against Mr Quick last September - and forwarded them to LNP state president Bruce McIver. Mr Quick claims he has since been "cleared" by an internal investigation - and most likely he has been.

Reason: former Nationals 'have the numbers' in the Brisbane LNP hierarchy - and Mr. McIver and/or the 'internal investigators' may well have thought that exonerating Mr. Quick would meet the approval of his fellow former Gnats. Mr Quick served the National Party well in his extended tenure as Townsville-based 'regional co-ordinator' - the LNP finding against Mr Quick could have antagonized countless ex-Gnats who now rest, most uncomfortably, in the LNP.

Regrettably, Mr Quick is not the ideal campaign manager for any Liberal candidate - not even one as Gnat-friendly as Warren Entsch. To describe Mr. Quick's win/loss record as campaign manager over many campaigns as "mixed" would be charitable - he's lost many more than he has won - including Kevin Byrne's unexpected defeat at the last Council poll.

Kevin Byrne snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on that occasion - and Mr Quick, along with the many Liberals who turned on Byrne, as payback for his perfectly sensible cautions relating to Charlie McKillop's candidacy, share responsibility for mayor Byrne's demise.

No doubt, every LNP member and supporter means well and acts in good faith - but the sad fact is that the local branches, as much as the entire state apparatus, are in a total shambles. Mistrust and deceit are the order of the day - every day - the back-stabbing and bull-shitting has reached depths that are nothing short of outright disgrace....
Precious few LNP folk are 'liberal' in the proper sense of the word, which conveys tolerance and understanding - and nothing any LNP spokesperson has come-up within years could be described as 'national', the word that implies an all-embracing country-wide engagement.

Indeed, the 'national' reach of the LNP goes no further than Brisbane - the Nationals are no longer major players in Canberra, where even their Liberal coalition 'partners' regard them as a rural rump.

Voters BEWARE - the LNP is not supportable until such time as it gets its act together, eases-up on the back-biting and back-stabbing, and re-invents itself as a credible opposition, to both the Bligh regime in Brisbane and the Ruddites in Canberra.

And that's going to take a long while yet.

But all that said - let no-one take any of the above as a piece of pro-Labor propaganda. Labor is creating havoc across the land with its big-government 'we know what's best for you' ethos - and running-up massive debt in the process. But at least they keep their equally bitter factional squabbles 'in-house', and have mechanisms in-place that ensures a 'common party position' after the various factions has, in relatively courteous fashion, 'negotiated' compromise outcomes.

The LNP can't do this - they're too bogged-down with blood-letting and back-biting to negotiate compromise - and, at the end of the day, all politics is compromise.

Little wonder North Queenslanders are flocking to the new North Queensland Party in droves - too young to have factions, too new to have 'baggage', the NQP is focused only on the needs of the region.

The very fact that 15 seriously pinged-off LNP operatives have to send their complaints to the head honcho in Brisbane speaks volumes as to who is running the show - and where LNP priorities lie. Likewise, in the less likely event of 15 Laborites having similar grievances, they too would have to lodge their complaints in Brisbane. And, no doubt, who-ever the subject of those Labor complaints was, he/she too would be 'exonerated' by head office.

Uniquely, the North Queensland Party is accountable to no-one who doesn't live here in the Deep North - and is unquestionably the only political party that genuinely understands the North. It's not National, it's not Liberal – in fact it has no leanings to either left or right - and it has already learned from our local LNP how not to manage a branch structure.

In 'what not to do' politically, our local LNP have supplied a splendid example.


Jude Johnston said...

Chris, I would argue the point it was Kevin Byrne/Charlie Killop debate that resulted in the Kevin Byrnes loss to Val Schier.
If you look at where Mayor Schier gained the most, it was in the Northern Beaches. Yes. a predominantly Liberal area, but an area that had been ridden rough shod over by Mayor Byrne and his cohort Sno Bonneau. The inappropriate development that occured out in the Northern Beaches, the lack of community consultation on anything, the arrogance that eminated from the council building, the talk back radio that labeled us all as "ratbags and "troublemakers". It was this bully boy behaviour and the poor advice from Councillor Bonneau that lost Kevin Byrne the mayoralty. I have stated on many occasions, Val did not win the Northern Beaches, Kevin lost it.

Syd Walker said...

I'd like to comment on one point in Chris' interesting article.

Referring to the Liberal candidate for Leichhardt in 2007, who was defeated by Jim Turnour, he dismissively brands her as 'unelectable'.

It's possible that Charlie McKillop was unelectable within the Liberal Party (yet she was, after all, nominated).

But I dispute that she was unelectable within the community as a whole.

Of all the aspiring - or successful - politicians in this region with whom I've had minor dealings over the years, she struck me as having the sharpest mind.

We had a couple of chats in the period preceding the last election, disagreeing strongly about some controversial issues I raised. However, I had, at least, the sense of genuine intellectual engagement on her part. It was not like talking to a wet sponge. Charlie has a brain.

On the one specific practical issue I raised with her (telecomms) she demonstrated genuine understanding of a fairly complex set of circumstances - and a desire to help.

There may be policy reasons why you think Charlie McKillop was 'unlectable', Chris. In that case, it would be interesting to know what they are.

I'd be surprised, because she took no 'risque' political positions at that time that I'm aware of. I wish she had - but she struck me as too practical a politician to go out on a limb, not at that stage in her career.

If your point is that Charlie was unelectable because of her sexuality, why not come out and say so, Chris?

Personally, I don't agree.

Like many people, I directed my preference away from Charlie MacKillop at the last election not because of her personal qualities.

I just didn't want the Howard Government back again, with a passion.

Charlie McKillop was a lot more 'electable' than John Howard at the last election. He dragged her vote down - not the other way round.

Blogster said...

Dear Chris,

You accuse the LNP of lack of liberalism and / or nationalism (and I agree), but when is the NQP going to show its political colours?

Bryan Law said...

Thanks for that Chris, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about the state of play within our political system.
I’ve watched the “hard bastard” apparatchiks of the ALP (and its Greens wing) enforce a minority view, and disable community participation. And now you demonstrate the same game is being played by controlling elements of Libs and Nats.
My touchstone for the next two elections is to do whatever is necessary to get rid of Jim Turnour, Steve Wettenhall, Jason O’Brien, and whoever replaces Desley Boyle. I’d vote 1 Satan if that’s what it took.
But real and fundamental change requires their replacement with some effective force. Eventually.
I like Wendy Richardson as an independent, and I’ll be watching the performance of the FNQ Party with interest. Will they be running a candidate in Leichhardt?
I don’t like being in this position, and I have to wonder how such slimy bastards manage to get away with their disgusting behaviour.

JKR said...

I find myself agreeing with Syd. I have been fortunate enough to meet Charlie on a few occassions and I think that she is intelligent and very capable. She would have made a fine member for Leichhardt.

Unfortunately though people like Chris found her "unelectable" and although Chris doesnt say so, I have no doubt that he means that Charlie is unelectable because of her sexuality. No doubt that is a quality that Bob Katter would have appreciated in Chris.

The rest of the article ranges between a mind-numbing history lesson and a work of pure fiction.

hieronymus bosch said...

It's great to hear from this 'small man' grub who can barely remember your name longer than five minutes unless he sees self-advancement from it.

Bare in mind he's been spin doctor for One Nation campaigns as well as Kevin Byrne's, which says something of the politics of the NQP.

He believes in nothing and sells to the highest bidder.

Jack the Insider said...

Yes Chris, you may be right in your critique but for the electors to swap sides they need to be convinced that the alternative is worth voting for.

You fail to articulate why I should vote for a disgruntled rural rump.

Furthermore, the NQP needs to realise that under the optional preferential system, they have as much hope of winning a seat as I have of climbing Mt Everest.

The whole purpose of this voting system was designed and implemented by Goss and Rudd to continue the domination of a united party.

What you and NQP advocate is effectively the entrenchment of the ALP. Until such time as the various disparate splinters unite in one common party, you are effectively ensuring the continued dominance of the ALP. Mind you that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Chris you and NQP need to familiarise yourselves with the dynamics that prevailed in the Queensland political landscape during the electoral domination of the ALP between 1930 and 1957.

Familiarise yourself with that period and therein lies the reason why unity is success and splinter groups entrench failure.

Ferret out a strong respected leader like a Forgan Smith, a Frances Nicklin or even a Bjelke-Petersen and build a party around them.

The rest is like whistling in the dark!!

Ed in Edge Hill said...

Charlie McKillop was only selected by Warren so that one gay politician would be replaced by another. Charlie is an equally empty suit to Mumbles Turnour, but given that Turnour is part of the "government" party you'd think he'd be able to get SOMETHING for the FNQ to assist us with the failed economy here. The fact that he's done less than nothing is understating the obvious.

Lisa Robbie said...

I note that you, Chris Forsberg, are a Foundation Committee Member & the Media Advisor for the North Queensland Party.

I also note that the NQP Latest News (April 26th, 2010) states, “Any political party must have 500 members to field party candidates in a state or federal election, and Mr. Filippi is confident that “the magic figure” will be realised well-ahead of the next state election, not due for over three years”.

Getting 500 members over the next few years is not exactly “flocking to the new North Queensland Party in droves” as stated above. But may I ask how many members you do currently have.

12,000 on the Save Sugarworld in a matter of weeks is flocking in droves.

I am considering joining the NQP, however, the article above screams of the same low-level propaganda that other parties bandy around. Something I’ve detested in life is those who make themselves look good by putting others down. I would love to be associated with a party that refuses to play the political blame-game & rather wins on its merits.

Thornton On Spence said...

Am I correct in saying the Candidate for the North Queensland Party is one Beatrice Booth? The same person who reportedly eroded a significant cash surplus at the once Commerce Queensland in her role as President and then when her term was up headed back up to Cairns and announced her candidancy for the North Queensland Party. Hopefully for the 500 contributing Members she doesn't make too many financial decisions on your behalf.

Chris Forsberg said...

Thanks 'Jack' Unlike the comments and criticisms of others who have responded to my 'item' – based to an extent on the bloggers' various own political loyalties or leanings - your's is an informative contribution.

I have studied the political history of Bananaland - and I agree that what you've called the dynamics of the political landscape of the long period of Labor government between the 30's and 1957 DO continue to influence electoral outcomes today.

Certainly, it is NOT my role to "articulate why you should vote for a disgruntled rural rump". But the NQP is not by any stretch of the wildest imagination a "rural rump" - such an in-accurate description could also have been applied to the handful of striking shearers and railway fettlers who gathered under the "tree of knowledge' in Barcaldine well over a century ago - to found the Australian Labor Party.

Your comments on the Optional Preferential Voting system are well made - OPV tends to advantage Labor incumbents. It's introduction by the Goss regime was one of the Labor Party's smartest-ever political manipulations – and the Liberals and Nationals NEVER twigged to it's long-term implications.

OPV SHOULD have been explained to the Queensland public by the State Electoral Commission, which should have informed voters that the sytem gave them opportunity to RATE candidates in order of merit.

Politicians trade on the fact that "voters don't understand preferences" (which they don't - but nor do many politicians).
However, the public does understand RATINGS, accustomed as they are to the 'ratings concept' as it applies to TV programing.

It can only be presumed that Goss spin staffers - followed by Beattie's spin-folks – prevailed upon the S.E.C. to ensure that the electorate was never appropriately informed about Optional Preferential Voting.

"Just Vote 1" was a trap set for the conservatives - they tumbled in to it, of course. 'Just Vote 1' is also a gross insult to voters - as it presumes that they're (we're) too lazy or stupid to give any serious consideration to the totality of candidates (never more than handful) on a ballot slip.

Chris Forsberg said...


'Jack', the NQP. will not and can not "ensure the effective entrenchment of the ALP", as you suggest - for the simple reason that the NQP will never contest seats south of Mackay, and therefore will only offer candidates in fewer than a dozen North Queensland seats.

Where the NQP could conceivably score 'balance of power' in a tight, close election (where neither the ALP or the LNP secured a majority), NQP would support whichever of the two guaranteed the best outcome for the North Queensland region.

In 2012, NQP could well pick-up a couple of seats - a 'balance of power' scenario only becomes a possibility after subsequent state polls.

Finally, you're darn right about 'leadership' - there is an absolute VOID, a dearth of pro-active political leadership in North Queensland at all three levels (local, state and federal) at this time, and has been for many years, perhaps decades.

"Red" Ted Theodore, the state member for Chillogoe who almost became P.M. – and Ned Hanlon, the member for Cairns who became state premier - were a long, long time ago - and both were brought down by a financial scandal involving un-disclosed shares in the (then) booming MINING industry.

The more things change, the more they stay the same - which, in a way, is what you're saying too.....
Jack, don't fret, sweat or worry too much about NQP candidates 'splitting votes'.

The next state poll is two years away – I feel sure that NQP by then will have strategies in-place that will exploit the 'stacked' nature of OPV. This can be done - and has been done by a few Independents already serving as state MPs.

Were it not possible to slip-through a relatively little known but perfectly legal loop hole that exists within the OPV system, the Bananaland Parliament would have NO Independents at all.

Chris Forsberg said...

Lisa Robbie's examples a figure of 12,000 apparent supporters for 'Save Sugar World' as 'flocking in droves', contrasting this awesome figure
with the current number of members of the North Queensland Party.

Whereas I am a 'foundation committee member' of the NQP, I am not a member of the Executive Committee - and hence don't have the latest NQP member tally at my finger tips. The last count drawn to my attention was (approximately) 480 - just a whisker short of the 500 required to 'run' candidates in a state election. Which is in two years time – not three. Obviously, NQP will have the 'magic number' by then.

I don't think the membership tally of a new political party can be contrasted with the number of 'hits' the Save Sugar World web-site or Face-Book site has received - Lisa is comparing chalk with cheese.

But the Save Sugar World cause is certainly well-supported - and I would INVITE Lisa to attend the public meeting at Sugar World this Sunday (30 May), at which I have been asked to serve as 'MC'.

Lisa refers to the "blame game" and "low level propaganda" - at the same time expressing a desire to join a political party, but not one
that "plays the political blame game".

In fact, what Lisa describes as "blame game" is just the normal political debate that is engaged-in by ALL parties, without exception. We are fortunate to live in one of the world's few true democracies - criticism, where it's valid, of other political parties is a genuinely important part of the democratic process.

The NQP is correctly critical, in equal measure, of both the ALP and the LNP. - due to the fact that both are, understandably, focused almost exclusively on the state's over-populated south east corner.

Both major parties are justified in this focus - as the south east corner now has near 70% of the state's total population - and hence, almost 70% of the seats.

In real terms, North Queensland no longer counts in terms of the money a state government spends on infrastructure and services. Yet the North of the state generates almost two-thirds (roughly 60%) of the state's revenue - via rural production, mining, tourism and taxation.

No North Queensland entity, whether or not it's a political party, can expect this grossly unfair situation to change unless it's prepared to 'take-on' the political status quo.

Doing so could be described as playing the "blame game" - both mainstream parties have a lot to be blamed-for, in terms of
their obsession with the south east corner - and their willful neglect of North Queensland.

Satan said...

I'd vote for you too Bryan!

Lucifer said...

Bitter and resentful, this is what you have become Bryan. Your balanced and intelligent arguement has now succumbed to one-eyed spite and vindictiveness. Grovel no more to the party you despise, seeking relief from fines and punishment. Oh joy of joys embrace this new found blind hatred!

Gal said...

Are the northern beaches really the centre of the universe?

Chris Forsberg said...

Yes, 'Thornton on Spence', you are in error - recently elected NQP President Beatrice Booth is NOT a candidate, and nothing Beatrice has said publically or privately could give anyone the impression that she is a candidate.

NQP will be calling for candidate nominations
in a year's time - and any member of the party is entitled to offer him/her self for the normal pre-selection process, common to all political parties.

It is anticipated that candicacies for the four of the FAR Northern seats will be keenly contested. A number of enthusiastic NQP members have indicated an interest in challenging in Cairns, Mulgrave, Cook and Barron River - NONE of these aspirants is Beatrice Booth.

Regarding Beatrice's five year tenure as President of the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industries, her highly successful term at the helm of the 'Chambers' is a matter of public record.

Moriarty said...

The Quick influence could be more accurately described as the RSL faction....A bunch of ex- servicemen who prefer to run things as a military dictatorship.

And their mantra is:
So long as you have structure and discipline, then it's ok to have a bit of good old fashioned bastardisation along the way.

Some of these has-been blowhards based at second beach and in the para-military foothills are still running around saluting each other.

The war is over gents, it is time for a cup of tea and a good lie down.

monty pythons parrot said...

Who claimed that the northern beaches were the centre of the universe?

It was merely claimed what the numbers showed that this was where the greatest voter disaffection happened contrary to the bizarre claim that the council election swung on a clique of resentful liberal liberals!

It's bleedin obvious aint it!

Bazza said...

Bob Katters explanation of the LNP was "same bottles, same fluid, different label", so far with the make up of NQP, just a third bottle.

Bryan Law said...

“Lucifer” ol’ droogie, how’re they hanging? “Bitter”, “resentful”, “spite” and “vindictive” sounds a lot more like your gig than mine. Likewise, anyone who thinks my approach to Desley Boyle amounted to “grovelling” ought read it for themselves and ask just how sulphurous this “Lucifer” truly is.

My guess is it’s just one more nameless and shameless party hack whose job is to protect the Labor monopoly by making anonymous and irrelevant personal attacks against any who would criticise that illustrious organ of state security. I don’t “hate” the ALP. I just want to hold it accountable. You know, like in a democracy.

I ask why Desley and the rest of them act like (second-rate) bosses, and get all flouncy with the people they pretend to serve. I want more than empty rhetoric and lip service only to the political principles I believe in...participation, equity, social justice.

Tell you what “Lucky”, tell us all what you think a better solution is (and save the blather for your next branch meeting). If your ideas hold water, I’ll adopt them.

chris forsberg said...

Chris Forsberg Assures Bazza:

Bob Katter does indeed regard the
LNP as Bazza notes - BUT Bob Katter
is hugely supportative of the North
Queensland Party and often attends
NQP meetings and events.

I would ask Bazza to seek confirmation of this fact by contacting Bob personally, should
he choose to do so.

As a genuinely Independent Federal
MP, Mr. Katter endorses NQP's
position on an equitable share
of the state's wealth for the
North - and has greatly assisted
our emerging party through it's
formative stage.

Lest Bazza, or anyone else, wrongly
assume that Bob Katter's valued
assistance is indicative of a
'conservative' inclination on the
part of the party - please note
also that former Labor Party members, including Councillor Rob
Pyne, are also active members
of the North Queensland Party.

It has to be STRESSED that the
NQP has NO political philosophic
leanings in either direction (Left
nor Right)- and is focussed ONLY
on getting a fair deal for the

chris forsberg

Tony Zegenhagen said...

Perhaps the NQ party should be talking to the DLP.
Connecting with an existing party would enable NQ to register tommorrow and with the added support up north may even add a Senator and a possible lower house up there.

Many of the issues of the NQ party are already supported by the DLP and if a separate state is not on the cards the upper house policy with the regional model pushed by the DLP would certainly assist in adding representation in the North

Why not? Registered tommorow in the State. Senator in a few months.
Certainly makes sense

Bobs new follower said...

Bob katter was asked to walk out onto the floor of parliament.
And say I am the federal member for the fnq and they then would not need to recruit 500 members. And he shit himself and nearly ripped off my front doors after rudely whooshing past my wife .
Fact because I asked him and he shit himself . Did n't you bob ? You dip into every group of discontents but are never brave enough to commmit yourself . And to think you are my rep now god help us!

"emerging political force, dubbed "The Beast" by independent federal MP Bob Katter, has a new name - Southern Cross."

"The Independent Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter says he will support, but not join a new North Queensland political party."

He dips his toe in but never ever swims.


Snoppy Dog and Moony Pongs said...

it's a bit rich of chris forsberg to go on about charlie mckillop and her "sexuality" ...

I know at least three friends who's "bumped into" Mr F in the dark hours at a park near Brinsmead.... and it was him for sure... of that there's no doubt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pot calling the kettle....

Destiny said...

Hey Ho, Hey Ho, It's off to play we go...