LNP heavies pushed to have Deb axed
LNP party bosses personally lobbied Opposition MPs to ditch then-leader Deb Frecklington just six months out from last year's state election and put current leader David Crisafulli up in her place.
The revelation comes as the party looks set to draft in former leader and founder of the combined Liberals and Nationals outfit, Lawrence Springborg, as president.
It follows former Premier Campbell Newman putting himself forward to join the executive but being rejected as "too toxic", The Courier-Mail has been told.
As Mr Crisafulli was on a much-publicised road trip to north Queensland six months out from the state poll in October, former party president Bruce McIver and current president Cynthia Hardy were meeting with sitting LNP state MPs to deliver the message that LNP Leader Ms Frecklington had to go.
They were doing the numbers for a partyroom leadership spill that never eventuated.
Mr Crisafulli had less than a handful of votes but the party powerbrokers believed momentum would swing behind the Gold Coast-based MP.
They told sitting state MPs that Ms Frecklington's numbers were bad and that those with margins of less than 6 per cent were in danger of losing their seats.
Multiple partyroom sources have confirmed the move was on, but there was "very strong push-back".
"They were told in no uncertain terms that to cut Deb adrift, our first female leader so close to an election, was just not going to happen," one insider said.
"They thought they'd steamroll people, like they had with (John-Paul) Langbroek. They kept saying 'you can't win, we have to change (leaders)'. But it got nowhere."
Ms Frecklington declared war on the "backroom bully boys" and Mr Crisafulli had to make a public plea, insisting that he wasn't involved in the destabilisation.
Both Mr McIver and Ms Hardy, who was vice-president at the time, were contacted for comment yesterday but did not respond.
The revelations come as former premier Mr Newman offered himself up as LNP treasurer but was told he was "too toxic" for a senior state executive role.
Mr Newman, who yesterday refused to comment, is understood to have put himself up as treasurer just a few weeks ago, after the LNP had not filled the position vacated by Stuart Fraser, who left six months ago.
Mr Newman has unrivalled business connections, seen as a prerequisite for the treasurer role.
"He's still seen as toxic," said an LNP insider.
"That's unfortunate because I think as a former premier he brings a great deal to the table."
Mr Newman won the 2012 election with the greatest majority in Queensland political history, only to lose in 2015.
Former Newman Government minister and barrister Ian Walker is emerging as a contender to replace Ms Hardy as the LNP's next state president.
Former Howard Government minister Gary Hardgrave, now a Sky News host, is also being asked to rejoin the party and run for senior office after he was banished for asking too many questions.
The rejection of Mr Newman as a senior LNP figure comes amid renewed speculation over wholesale changes to the state executive after an explosive three-part series published in The Courier Mail and The Sunday Mail lifted the lid on a party at war with itself.
A senior LNP figure said a "revolution" was coming.
"Bring on the convention in July," he said.
After the expose, The Courier-Mail was swamped with letters from angry LNP members, highly critical of the way the organisational wing of the party is run.
The Courier Mail-Sunday Mail-Sky News investigation revealed a political party in crisis, beset by a decade of treachery and vengeance, fuelled by a hierarchy desperate to cling to its power base.
The letters and texts lay bare the dysfunction between the parliamentary and organisational branches.
They claim that as staffers and volunteers they too have been subjected to over-bearing tactics by head office.
Among the many letters received, today we publish a sample.
Former staffer Jessica Christmas said she had watched the "horror" of how the LNP treated its members.
"For the first time in my life, I voted for Labor at the last election.
"The greatest contribution that (former president Bruce) McIver, (former vice president) Gary Spence and (current president Cynthia) Hardy could make to the members of the LNP would be to resign immediately."
Christine Ford wrote about her tenure as an administrative assistant, during which she was "chastised, humiliated and castigated".
"After seven months I was a complete wreck," she wrote.
"The party is too stacked with chauvinistic males and workers are regarded as sub-ordinates, to be used as slaves, degraded and abused."
Another former senior figure who wrote on the condition of anonymity said it was a fallacy to say the LNP was good at federal and local government elections, because the state body is kept out of the way for those polls.
"I watched closely where the Brisbane City Council's LNP team had to fight HQ to ensure that HQ would not run the council campaign and undo the hard work Graham Quirk and his team did between 2011 and 2019," the whistleblower said.
"The degree of clarity in the federal campaigns was head and shoulders above what we received in the state campaigns.
"As long as they (the state stalwarts) continue, the strategic approach to elections will fail. They've been doing the same old stuff since the merger in 2009."
The Courier-Mail understands LNP headquarters has been besieged with letters of complaint since Ms Hardy put out a note earlier in the week blaming "cowards" for the War Within series.
Her attacks were against former and current members, including Mr Springborg, former premier Rob Borbidge, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, former deputy premier Jeff Seeney and Mr Hardgrave.
All five said the merger of 2009 was not the issue, it was the personalities who had to change.
Originally published as LNP heavies pushed to have Deb axed