Tuesday 2 November 2010

Candidates for State election to be decided November 14

The election when you're not having an election, is on the inside straight, for the Libs anyway.

Local branches of the Liberal National Party will select candidates for the next State Election at a special meeting in two weeks time.

The State election is expected to be called for in the first half of 2012, not too long after the local body Council election in March of the same year. Oh, what fun. It will be like the post Federal-menopause all over again.

The early selections show how serious the opposition is in winning seats from Labor-dominated Far North.

The 2009 State poll saw the emergence of Liberal and Nationals to form the LNP, with some upsets for Labor. They will head into the next election as an underdog, plagued by vicious internal division of the asset sale programmes and chalking up over a decade of unmanageable debt. Under Labor, who forced local Councils to amalgamate, electricity, car registrations, driver's licence and rates, have all increased dramatically.


In Barron River, three will be vying for the LNP selection. Scott Elliot; building inspector Ian Lydiard, who stood for the Cook pre-selection in 2009; and federal policeman Murray Ferguson, will contest the selection.

Ferguson, who sits on the party's law and order committee, is the favourite to win. He was one of a number of party members who signed a damming letter to party hierarchy about how the local LNP branch ran the 2009 campaign and managed it's finances.

They leveled serious questions about the mis-management of money and asked for a full investigation. It was never granted, and led to a number of members resigning or not renewing their membership, including former Barron River LNP candidate, Wendy Richardson; Jen Sackley, chair regional woman's division, and Vickie Farquhar, secretary Mulgrave SEC.

It is believed that a counter-letter has recently been circulated to absolve the party of any further action.

In contrast Vic Black, Murray Ferguson and Craig Batchelor, who also signed the letter, have put the issue behind them for the good of the party.

One obvious omission from the Barron River nomination list is Lisa Dunkerton, a vocal opponent of the public housing at Palm Cove and Trinity Park's Bluewater. Dunkerton, partner of Australia's most successful rally driver and a former Bassendean councillor, was widely touted as a possible Liberal candidate.

Although Steve Wettenhall won on Green preferences in 2009, narrowly losing the primary vote to Wendy Richardson, it will be an extremely close race to watch. Wettenhall now has the luxury of incumbency and is perceived locally as a hard worker for his community. Needless to say, there is a strong local lobby group vehemently opposed to the public housing at Bluewater and Palm Cove.

Perennial political candidate and LNP defector, Wendy Richardson, will usher in her forth election campaign when she runs for the newly-formed Queensland Party, set up by another LNP defector, Aidan McLindon.

Richardson, a speech-therapist expert with a background in early-childhood education, has previously contested Cairns in 2006 for the Liberals, Tablelands Regional Council in 2008, and Barron River in 2009. Richardson was a vocal advocate for the preservation of the now-demolished Cairns Yacht Club building on Trinity Wharf. Her website makes no mention of the Queensland Party, just stating that she is the "independent candidate for Barron River". "We will be back soon," the sole message reads. She sure will.

It's likely that Richardson will be subject to a campaign to undermine her from the LNP, following her less than graceful exit.


The Cairns seat will probably be the most hotly contested, famously held by Labor for 100 years. In the 2009 poll, Joel Harrop gave Desley Boyle a close run, taking just under 40% to ALP's 45.7%. The Greens polled just over 10% with Steve Brech. Harrop went on to become state secretary for the LNP, but has recently left the role, citing more time for his family, however it is believed there were some internal party reasons that lead to Harrop decided to leave the lucrative State role.

LNP have also nominated TaxSmart owner managing director, Scott Andrews for the Cairns seat, along with Vic Black, who ran in Mulgrave in 2009. He gained a credible 33.4%, but was no contest for Curtis, son of the long-serving MP Warren Pitt, who retained the seat with 48%. Many in Labor were angry at Pitt's late nomination, saying there was no local selection process for the strong Labor seat.

Tourism stalwart and former chief of Sunlover Cruises, Terry Russell, has also been nominated for Cairns for LNP. Russell, who is now involved in Air View Media, was behind an elaborate plan to construct an artificial island on the Great Barrier Reef, that was to include a three-storey visitors' centre and wedding chapel. It never got public support, despite the State Government entertaining the idea initially. Many called it "a really tacky proposal, that would probably open the door for a whole lot of other nasty developments in the world heritage area."


It's expected that the only LNP nomination for Mulgrave will be Robyn Quick, partner of senior party member Dennis, and integral part strategic and backroom campaign manager.

For a second time, Craig Batchelor has put his name forward for selection for Cook, and if selected, will run against Labor's Jason O'Brien. Cook is wide open with just over 800 difference. Batchelor gained 42.4% and O'Brien 46% in 2009.

An interesting exchange happened on the way to Olly's Caffiend following last Friday's Supreme Court mention in the defamation case being waged by Cairns Regional Councillor Alan Blake. I was walking along Grafton Street, alongside serial ratbag Bryan Law, when we encountered Jason O'Brien, who appeared on a mission somewhere more important than us plebs. He didn't stop for small talk.

"Isn't it amazing the people you meet when you don't have a shotgun," the Member for Cook said, and he briskly moved on with his taxpayer-funded wallet. Charming.


The most-talked about retirement is that of sitting member for Cairns, Desley Boyle, who is holding any plans to retire, close to her chest. No date has been set for pre-selection of an ALP candidate.

"She has not made up her mind, however it's like 90% certain she will stand aside," a party insider told CairnsBlog, who asked to remain anonymous. "Of course the fear is that there will be another 'parachute' candidate, like happened in the last month's of the Mulgrave campaign in 2009 with Curtis Pitt was propelled to the nomination, with no opposition. I expect the same will occur here in cairns, and they will leave it to last minute, and playing lip service to our democratic process to elect a candidate."

The insider said that public relations man Tim Grau is the likely person they will "rail-road" into the nomination for the Cairns seat.

In September I outed Tim Grau, a political analyst and politically savvy operator, as the inside favourite as Boyle's replacement. In a feature political opinion piece, both the Cairns Post and Grau failed to declare his role as chair of the Cairns ALP Branch. In a response, he called the CairnsBlog "inaccurate commentary."

"In being open and transparent, I put my real name and position to the article, more than most of your contributors ever do," Tim Grau wrote. "My article was written in my capacity as the Managing Director of my non-partisan company and on the basis of more than 20 years experience in public policy." But no mention of the ALP connections, nor his most senior local role.

Regardless, Grau should understand that this early exposure in getting his name out, was poorly-handled and his reaction to it was less than upfront, when the following morning he sent of two separate emails from different addresses. I thought, as a product of the digital age, Tim would have embraced and utilised social media in a positive and constructive way.

When I asked to take a 'kiss and make up' photo of Tim with Mayor Val Schier and Councillor Di Forsyth at the recent Buskers Festival, in the wake of the blog storm over his Post article, he sheepishly declined. "I don't have to kowtow to this blog guy," Tim murmured to the side. He sure doesn't.

If Grau is propped into the nomination, with little involvement of local party faithful, it will display an entrenched pattern and a disconnected internal system of right vs left. Or more importantly, right vs wrong.

Other ALP names bandied around are Electrical Trades Union organiser Stu Traill, who says he is not interested, but has a ground-swell of support from those fighting the State asset sale programme within Labor. It's also no secret that first-tern Cairns Regional Councillor Kirsten Lesina has hopes of higher office.

NB: No animals were harmed in the making of this article.


Anonymous said...

Just an observation

The great thing about the LNP is that you can have healthy internal debate; raise and resolve issues and then move on. All parties have a post mortem process post election; nothing out of the ordinary. Most people accept the verdict; some though do just want to pout and pick up their bat and ball and go into the corner and sulk.

I happy to see the sulkers gone and those who are dedicated to ousting a discreditted Labor machine working to their utmost to achieve that aim.

"Letters" and "counter-letters" are non issues - the issue IS Labor and its compounding of failures.

My congratulations to Murray, Ian and Scott in Barron River; to Scott, Vic and Terry in Cairns for putting their names forward - it takes guts to be a candidate.

Mr Perfect said...

Wettenhall is useless and weak and has done nothing for Cairns. Please name one achievement.
He is a public service twit with his nose in the trough from legal aide to Governement handouts.
He must go at the next election or Cairns will be in for another 3 yrs of non action and misery from our State Government.
Equally as laughable is Kirsten Lisina with ambitions for higher office. This would be like a horror movie. Useless + useless.!!!!!!

Please no more nightmare thoughts on this blog.

Unknown said...

Why do state pollies all look like failed real estate agents?

VickieF said...

Jimminy Cricket...yep I picked up my bat and ball - but I didn't go hide in a corner. I'm still out here trying to get people to get off their butts and actually DO something for their community.

I put MY name on the letter to the LNP that you refer to - however, there were no real answeres to any of the questions we asked. I'm an adult and I resent being bullied and dismissed like a naughty child for having the temerity to ask questions. I was told that my membership renewal would be subject to me 'behaving' myself as I would be watched. Sorry but I'm not supporting a party who threatens honest members. I don't toe those sorts of lines and I'm too darn old to start now!
Apparently some of those who signed have higher aspirations and can justify their about face as being for the sake of the Party - sorry I can't support them, even if I consider them friends.

BTW - Will I find the name J.Cricket on the electoral roll if I look? You'll find mine...
It's Vickie (Veronica) Farquhar.

Unknown said...

chris forsberg says:-

Excellent 'serious' piece about the
pending LNP pre-selections - in
contrast to the on-going trivialization of the Blake V Blogger case....

Congrats to MM on the summary of
LNP hopefuls - but Caution is called-for with Blake V Blogger.

Ditto reproducing the mindless
opinions of the Hillbilly Mackenzie
site - this toxic, woefully
in-accurate site has absurdly
presumed that motoring identity
Peter Roggenkamp should tolerate
the slurs the commentariat MIGHT
direct to rate-payer funded

It's a reasonable presumption that
other folk who feel defamed by
blog-sites are a'waiting the result
of Blake V Blogger - caution is
certainly called-for....

chris forsberg bayview heights

KitchenSlut said...


An interesting article this week on tensions within the LNP including the role of our very own Warren Entsch in internal confrontations.

It seems that Entsch's mate Harrop didn't last long as a Liberal in that state position.