LNP must bridge not-so-great divide
When former state LNP cabinet minister Mark McArdle and Queensland senator Paul Scarr hand down their highly anticipated review into the LNP's loss at the 2020 election in April next year, they must cast aside any factional allegiances or loyalties and bell the cat on a political party that is deeply divided and has lost its way.
If they don't, the LNP will lose the 2024 election.
This post-mortem must be brutal, honest and go for the jugular. McArdle and Scarr owe it to the members and senior business leaders who backed the LNP at the last election to provide a transparent and warts-and-all analysis.
The ideological and geographical divide within the LNP has resulted in a party split down the middle, with the organisational wing at war with the parliamentary ranks.
Many members, volunteers and indeed candidates remain stung and underwhelmed with the 2020 LNP election campaign.
It will be interesting to see how much weight McArdle and Scarr place on the non-existent attack ad campaign run against Labor.
According to the Electoral Commission website, since January 1, 2020, the LNP had received donations of $5.8m, compared to the Labor Party's $2.5m.
Yet every night on the 6pm news, Labor ran attack ad after attack ad, suggesting a Frecklington government would "sack, cut and sell'', a lazy but effective reminder of the Newman government era.
It clearly worked. The public service abandoned the LNP and it is well established within LNP party ranks that it must at least be competitive in Brisbane to form government. A seat like Aspley is a must-win, yet despite a red hot candidate, Amanda Cooper, the LNP couldn't get close to incumbent Bart Mellish.
The LNP had outsourced its negative advertising campaign to billionaire Clive Palmer but the punters were not listening. LNP candidates in marginal seats were hung out to dry. Where were the ads attacking Jackie Trad? Where were the ads on Labor's economic performance?
While Labor ran a presidential-style campaign with local MPs smiling on corflutes beside the Premier, the LNP's branding of Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington was wishy washy at best.
Let's not forget the LNP headquarters leaked polling six months out from the election saying that Frecklington could not win.
By contrast, just 10 days out from polling day, Labor powerbrokers were told in no uncertain terms that the seats of Townsville, Thuringowa and Mundingburra would be lost to the LNP unless they got fair dinkum.
Labor headquarters mobilised quickly, tripling direct contact with thousands of voters, reinforcing the tried and trusted message that during the height of a pandemic now was not the time to be changing government. Add to that message a strong and disciplined pitch to people over 60 that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had "kept them safe'' from COVID-19 and it was all over red rover.
Tory sources believe that, at best, LNP headquarters set Frecklington a Mission Impossible task.
At worst, to use a racing analogy, the stewards would need to open an inquiry to see if the LNP was guilty of "failing to ensure it was given every possible chance to win''.
That is a damning assessment, but make no mistake that when McArdle and Scarr wade through submissions from interested parties, some within the LNP will propagate that belief. There will be a submission suggesting the LNP did not do enough to convince the over-60s - who voted en masse for Labor - that the LNP would keep them safe.
Another submission will suggest that moves to torpedo Frecklington six months out from the poll were "treacherous'' and "vengeful''.
It will also suggest that another leak, at the start of the campaign, about Frecklington being referred to the ECQ by her own party over the legality of meetings with developers was a "calculated, conniving piece of politics" aimed at destroying her credibility.
What the McArdle-Scarr analysis should reveal is that the LNP is a deeply divided entity, with old scores still being settled among Liberal and National powerbrokers.
The Palaszczuk government had failed Queenslanders on the economy, child safety, youth crime and integrity.
But during the campaign, Labor played magnificently to the strength of its pandemic response and it was like a Rolls-Royce, perfectly honing its only election-winning mantra and performing spectacularly.
The LNP was like an old Valiant Charger, spluttering and bunny-hopping its way into a political abyss for another four years.
New LNP leader David Crisafulli is very good. He is formidable, hardworking and an excellent communicator. He needs to lead generational change within the organisational wing of the party, otherwise, like Frecklington, he will be swallowed by the Labor machine.
FRASER ISLAND FIRE INQUIRY MUST BRING HEAT
The Fraser Island fire was an accident waiting to happen because a succession of Labor governments have locked up and transferred millions of hectares of native forest and handed it over to understaffed park rangers.
That's according to a number of Queensland Forestry whistleblowers - with combined experience of 700 years as forestry personnel - who say the public needs to know the real reason for the fire.
"The State Forests have been locked up by Labor to appease the Greens and they have been certified as sustainably managed to world standards," a former Forestry official with 25 years experience said.
As a self-funded commercial business unit, Queensland Forestry had an income that enabled it to manage fuel loads through low-intensity burning during the cooler months, he said.
The practice was similar to the "fire stick" approach taken by Indigenous people for thousands of years, an approach that reduced the risk of lethal fire and helped with hunting. Forestry also ensured that roads, tracks and fire breaks were maintained.
"I fear we are going to see an escalation in uncontrollable bushfires due to … insufficient hazard reduction burning and a lack of road, track and fire break maintenance," another whistleblower, with 30 years experience, said.
Compounding the issue is the fact Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are taking control of regional fires when they lack understanding of forest blazes.
Water bombers are impressive looking and make great media but they are very expensive and "largely ineffectual" - a million litres of water was dropped on Fraser Island with little effect, they say.
"It is sad that the Queensland government, through QPWS, don't place the same value on the state's conservation estate as we once did," a forestry officer with 45 years experience said.
Let's hope the inquiry into the Fraser Island bushfire has the teeth to get to the bottom of this fiasco.
STOP THE GREEN FISCAL WARFARE
BITTER and twisted after losing the battle to stop Adani, Australian green activists have set their sights on disrupting the company in its home country, India.
Australian activists are weighing in on legislative reform around coal in India, using Twitter, by trying to convince big business in India that Adani is not a good corporate citizen. It's the strategy which resulted in the Commonwealth Bank and other big companies cutting ties with Adani.
Resources Minister Keith Pitt has made a formal referral on the growing denial of financial institutions who are jettisoning relationships with the mining, gas and oil industries, because of activism interference.
The Bob Brown Foundation and Stop Adani have a Twitter "cheat sheet". The Bob Brown Foundation, a registered charity, writes blog posts that try to undermine Adani's operations in Australia and now India.
Stop Adani is quoting farmers from Lotus Creek, 370km from the Carmichael mine, saying their properties are being affected by groundwater issues.
The campaign aims to use Twitter accounts to tweet out comments in quick succession in order to illustrate that the campaign has legs and is popular in Australia.
Critically, social media platforms allow this, remaining passive and not removing content posed by activist groups. The time has come for corporate Australia to stand up to these fiscal activists. They are a terrible blight on society and undermine companies that create thousands of jobs.
Originally published as LNP must bridge not-so-great divide