End Of An Error: Clive Palmer Quits Parliament

AN UNMITIGATED FARCE unworthy of even a single vote has ended, with news Clive Palmer will contest neither a Queensland Senate seat nor his electorate of Fairfax; too gutless to face his incensed constituents — who will now be denied their opportunity to boot his voluble arse onto the pavement — Palmer leaves Canberra having arguably helped destroy a state government, a Prime Minister, and to help facilitate the return of the ALP to office.

And so it ends, that which should never have started.

The unmitigated farce that was the Palmer United Party — with Clive Palmer, who was going to win 100 lower house seats and become Prime Minister in “a revolution” — came to an end with a whimper rather than a bang today, with the not-unexpected news that not only was Palmer wimping out of facing the wrath of the voters he walked all over in the seat of Fairfax, but that he couldn’t even be bothered trying to take the cheat’s route back to Canberra by trying to secure a Senate berth.

There’s a good reason for that. Palmer would be lucky now not to be eliminated in the early rounds of any Senate count.

First things first: depending on preference, readers can peruse the Fairfax or Murdoch press attached to this afternoon’s news.

This column — right from the outset — was scathing of Clive Palmer and his egomaniacal pretensions to the Prime Ministership; an unsuitable candidate — for anything, if we’re honest about it — Palmer’s alleged mass uprising turned out to be small-scale but politically toxic incursion into three Senate seats, and a single House of Representatives electorate by 53 votes after preferences off the back of just 26% of the primary vote, at the 2013 election.

It was as good as it got for the self-styled billionaire and mining baron.

As far back as April 2013 — more than three years ago — we called out the “popular revolution” Palmer claimed to embody for what it was: an unabashed, arrogant pantomime, shamelessly aimed at personal advancement and the settling of not-so-old scores, with the delusional insistence he would become Prime Minister paling into insignificance beside the very real prospect he would find some way to kill off Campbell Newman in Queensland, Tony Abbott in Canberra, or both.

At root, the sole discernible pretext for Palmer’s political aspirations — aside from megalomania — was the fact that having donated millions of dollars to the Queensland Division of the National Party (and later the LNP), Palmer found the Newman government singularly unwilling to do whatever he wanted: planning approvals, land zoning decisions, favourable tax treatment, the whole box and dice.

With astonishing chutzpah (and notwithstanding the very sensitive antenna post-Bjelke-Petersen Queenslanders retain for anything with so much as a whiff of corrupt behaviour about it, even now), Palmer launched into a savage diatribe against Newman, all but accusing him of corrupt misconduct, accusing then-Treasurer Tim Nicholls of having “cooked the books,” and labelling the LNP a “bunch of crooks.”

There obviously wasn’t a mirror handy that day.

And of course, somewhere along the way, Tony Abbott and the federal Coalition became just as hated in Palmer’s eyes as Newman and the Queensland LNP; a cynic might say it was at the intersection between a massive ego and the need to retain votes, and the fact that offering to sluice huge amounts of cash around as the price for allowing legislation to pass the Senate might help curry empty but populist favour with the “battlers” for whose situation in life he had thitherto exhibited scant regard.

The balance of power in the Senate — which is what his bloc of three votes, in practice, amounted to — was used to no better ends than to cripple the Abbott government.

It is a point of record that I have criticised the 2014 budget as loudly as anyone, so misguided and poorly managed as it was.

But with Labor and the Communist Party Greens blocking everything in sight, it was Palmer’s votes that tipped the balance: and invariably, it was to vote unpopular measures down to make himself look like a champion of the oppressed. On at least one occasion — the repeal of the mining tax — he allowed the measure to pass, but only after insisting on billions of dollars in spending that ensured that far from helping fix the state of the Commonwealth budget, the abolition of the mining tax actually worsened it.

Palmer stands condemned for a distinct lack of judgement in ensuring the election of imbecilic Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie by throwing large sums of cash into her campaign; Lambie — probably the stupidest individual ever elected to any Australian Parliament — has made Parliament and Australia a laughing stock, with her childish prattle about chasing rich men with big dicks, or her excruciating distinction between “Chinese” and “Communist Chinese,” and who advocated some kind of nuclear strike against the latter contingent.

Lambie, unbelievably, stands a good chance of surviving the imminent double dissolution, and if she does, it will be a permanent indictment on Palmer for enabling the moron to get anywhere near the Senate in the first place.

More recent times have seen Palmer pick — and lose — legal fights with an array if institutions and identities, not least his state-backed business partners in China; for those who always knew what Palmer was like and/or could see straight through the wafting cloud of bullshit he tried to cloak his “people’s party” in, it was a deeply satisfying process to watch as court loss followed court loss, and the 68-zip record of success in lawsuits Palmer used to boast about was obliterated.

I’m reliably told that the only real difference between the Clive Palmer who was a Young Liberals member in Brisbane in the 1970s and the Palmer of just a few years ago is the fact that his business success meant that he was actually able to make good on the threats to sue anyone who pissed him off that were commonly made even as a teenager.

It’s a telling insight.

The idea of a full-scale replica of the Titanic — built in China and escorted into harbour in the USA by a Chinese submarine — was laughable beyond belief, and it goes without saying that there will never be a second sinking of the Titanic because there will never be a Titanic to sink.

But there has been nothing to laugh about as his business empire crumbles, killing off jobs and family livelihoods with it: first his resort at Coolum, in his electorate, and lately the Queensland Nickel refinery in North Queensland, the spectacle of hundreds of jobs being lost is of far more concern than listening to Palmer whinge in the press about his declining business fortunes.

In the end, nobody is going to miss Palmer when he vacates the national political complex on 2 July.

Except, perhaps, Bill Shorten, whose Labor Party is arguably the sole beneficiary of the antics of Palmer and his eponymous party; even though the 2014 budget was a political obscenity of the most unbelievably grotesque proportions, it is impossible to believe that even the misfiring Abbott government could have been hauled to the brink of defeat over it were it not for the tactics employed against it in the Senate by Palmer and his cohorts.

The fact the budget itself was deeply flawed does not automatically make Palmer’s actions right, but if Bill Shorten wins the election on 2 July, Palmer will be able to take a fair share of the credit for it — and this is an indictment on an individual who claimed he was starting his own party to promote the “true” virtues of Australian conservatism.

I feel very sorry for voters in Palmer’s seat of Fairfax; they have paid a heavy price for his purported advocacy on their behalf, and their communities are poorer for his continued presence in them. The Coolum resort was once a major community hub, a driver of economic activity in the region, and a provider of hundreds of jobs. Now it is as good as defunct. It seems an indicative metaphor for the trail of scorched Earth that seems to follow Palmer wherever he goes.

Electors in Fairfax deserve the opportunity to piss all over their rotund parasite of an MP from a great height, and to propel his sizeable arse across the pavement and into the gutter: so ungracious is Palmer, and so utterly self-serving, that he hasn’t even got the decency to face the music and allow them to pass judgement upon him.

Australian politics has seen its share of self-important hero figures — consumed by hallucinatory visions of their own grandeur, and fortified by the sheer gall to suggest people actually like or even love them — who are almost without exception the worst kind of people anyone could find to entrust with the mandate of acting on their behalf.

In this sense, Palmer isn’t the first — and regrettably, he won’t be the last. Even as I write, Lambie is sitting in Tasmania somewhere quietly congratulating herself on what a legend she is in her own mind.

But Palmer leaves public life with no discernible achievements, no track record of making the lives of the ordinary folk he was charged with serving any better, and nothing for which he will be remembered fondly or, indeed, remembered at all.

Nothing, that is, except the abuse of power implicit in seeking elected office to further his own business interests, and to destroy those who refused to do it — improperly, indecently, or even corruptly — on his behalf.

It is a sick and sorry record of “achievement” by a leech whose chief conviction seems to have been that a little money entitled him to whatever he wanted, and that the refusal of others to capitulate to his demands merely legitimised his abuse of that power in seeking to destroy them personally, politically, and with malice.

Vale, Clive Palmer — Prime Minister of nothing.

Good riddance.


With The Silly Season Over, The Year “Starts” Today

BACK TO REALITY — in some cases, with a thud — is the order of political business from today, with the passage of Australia Day marking the end of the traditional “silly season” as the country knuckles under for 2016; the major agenda item is a federal election, which may not be as straightforward as it seems at first glance. Plenty of action in the states, where no elections are ostensibly due, and issues from left field, will round out a busy year.

I wanted this morning to simply pause and reflect on where things stand, even after a modestly busy festive season threw up plenty to keep us talking; the political year proper really starts from today, though — the silly season done and done with — and it promises to be a very interesting year in Australian politics indeed.

The central feature, of course, will be the federal election that must be held by January, is “due” around September or October, and whose timing is the subject of great conjecture and argument.

Whilst this column does not support the present Prime Minister as the leader of the Liberal Party and has said so countless times since its inception almost five years ago, we nevertheless believe Australia’s best interests will be served by the emphatic re-election of the Coalition to government, preferably at a double dissolution election, and ideally one held before Easter at the very latest: the worst Tory government is better than the best Labor one, and whilst few would seriously describe Malcolm Turnbull as “a Tory,” or his government as the worst* the Liberals have formed, the so-called alternative offered by the present opposition under its present “leader” is, to be brutal, no credible alternative whatsoever.

I was critical of the ability of Turnbull to translate the easy popularity he recorded in polls prior to resuming the Liberal leadership into electoral success, and whilst the Coalition now averages 54% after preferences on an aggregation of reputable polls, I will be convinced if and when he wins a landslide victory at the polling booth; the 70% who said they would vote for him as Prime Minister have of course melted away to a more believable level, but big opinion polls leads count for nothing if they don’t deliver the government benches at an election.

Just ask John Hewson.

Even so, Turnbull must be an odds-on favourite to secure re-election, and I restate my view that the best way to make this a certainty is for the Prime Minister to get himself to Government House as quickly as he can — even in the next fortnight — to call a double dissolution election for the first half of March (and yes, unbelievably, March is now less than five weeks away).

I think the longer an election announcement is left, the harder it will grow for Turnbull to record the smashing election win the polls currently indicate is within reach; as he demonstrated in September, when launching a leadership challenge against Tony Abbott, when you have the numbers, you use them. It is to be hoped that this same logic is applied to the sterner electoral test — a date with voters — for whilst he may have the numbers now, the nature of electoral support is such that it is never permanent.

Obviously.  🙂

The further the year progresses without an election date, the greater the propensity for hurdles — known and unknown — to be cast into Turnbull’s path.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the government’s greatest political asset — Labor “leader” Bill Shorten — is already on borrowed time, with a mooted switch to Tanya Plibersek late last year averted partly by Plibersek’s ridiculous position that she would seek to bind ALP MPs to vote in favour of legalising gay marriage, and partly by the re-emergence of a Federal Police investigation into Turnbull supporter (and suspended minister) Mal Brough over his alleged involvement in the Peter Slipper affair some years ago.

Shorten could yet be dumped. Brough could yield all sorts of political trouble if the Police turn up anything concrete with which to charge him. New Treasurer Scott Morrison is due to deliver a budget in May — which, if it is to be responsible in an election year, must come laden with tough economic medicine to finally fix the haemorrhaging bottom line and the corresponding explosion in public debt — and this could knock the government right back to where it was under Abbott. Turnbull has already obliged the Coalition to deliver firm policies on labour market flexibility and structural taxation reform. These issues are minefields, not cakewalks.

And all of that is before things just happen, as they invariably do, and typically at the worst possible moment.

I think the best thing Turnbull could do is to spend the next few weeks making broad directional announcements around the key issues his government intends to tackle that provide clear parameters from which to proceed, but which restrict the detail, and then announce an election for both Houses of Parliament; obviously, such a campaign would need to explicitly target the crossbenchers and urge a vote for either of the major parties in the Senate, with the attendant announcement that after an election, measures to clean up the notorious Senate voting system would be legislated.

Bills for Senate changes can and should be introduced to Parliament before it is dissolved: and if not instantly passed, with the government guillotining debate in the lower House to hasten their passage to the Senate, could form an additional justification (if not, indeed, a constitutional trigger) for a double dissolution in the first place.

Shorten, for the little he is worth to Australian politics, would of course bluster and rant about “unfairness,” but an early poll announcement would lock him into his job — which is what Turnbull needs to ensure. On balance Shorten, his vacuous scare campaigns, his paleolithic renewable energy policies and his union baggage pose less of an electoral risk to Turnbull than either hard detail on tax reform or any of the other latent issues that might explode in his face is permitted to fester.

Take the early option, Malcolm.

I can’t remember the last time we entered a year with no state elections due, off the top of my head — perhaps a reader will remind us — but an unscheduled election in Queensland, a year after the LNP was historically booted out of office after a single term and despite the biggest win in Australian history three years earlier, simply must be an odds-on bet.

The minority government formed by Labor after that unedifying loss has hardly set the world on fire; indeed, it seems that aside from restarting the haemorrhage of budget red ink by irresponsibly ramping up spending, the only tangible agenda of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government has been to remove as widely as possible any trace of Campbell Newman’s handiwork. The latest item on this to-do list appears to be a move to abolish the so-called VLAD laws that put an end to organised criminals using the Gold Coast as a virtual sanctuary.

And Palaszczuk has her problems: with one MP (Billy Gordon) expelled from the ALP and another (Rob Pyne) reportedly contemplating quitting the party — and with scandals around MP Rick Williams and sacked Police minister Jo-Ann Miller all chipping away at what little legitimacy the government has — Palaszczuk enters the political year in a parlous position. An election seems inevitable, and should be a lay-down misere for the LNP to walk back into office at with a healthy majority.

Yet there, too, there are problems; arguably, three-time loser and re-re-recycled LNP leader Lawrence Springborg is the best card in an otherwise poor Labor hand. There is word that Springborg — a true gentleman of politics — is set to be given his marching orders once and for all within the next month. We hope so, and endorse former Treasurer Tim Nicholls as the best bet to aright the listing LNP ship and make a promising electoral position a winning one should Queenslanders return to the polls any time soon.

Still in Queensland, Liberal Lord Mayor Graham Quirk faces what should be a straightforward exercise in re-election in March, coming off a 68% vote four years ago and with the LNP holding 18 of Brisbane’s 26 council wards after a redistribution.

But there are signs that the 12-year-old Liberal administration is growing tired in the minds of voters; a recent poll I saw (and I haven’t got the link, unfortunately) suggested 39% of Brisbane voters thought Quirk deserved another term, 33% were undecided, and 27% favoured the ALP candidate, Rod Harding.

Those numbers almost perfectly mirror the sort of numbers Sallyanne Atkinson was recording at the same stage of the cycle back at the start of 1991: and we all know how that ended.

I would expect Quirk to win, probably not by much, and certainly not with almost 70% of the vote after preferences as he did last time. The interesting thing will be whether he can also retain a majority in the wards (remembering 13 wards will still give the LNP control of Council), and I think he should. It makes the contest in Brisbane a little more interesting than last time, to say the least.

A look around the states shows two Liberal governments in NSW and Tasmania travelling well, polling very well, and both in a position to convincingly win an election “if an election were to be held this weekend,” as the standard pollsters’ question goes; in NSW, however, a sleeper issue is the machinations moderate Liberals are engaging in over federal preselections at present, and given some of the key players are based in state politics, it could impact Mike Baird’s government if it all goes pear-shaped (which, given the scorched Earth approach the moderates seem determined to take, is a distinct possibility).

One will say something positive about the South Australian Labor government too — which seems on course to win an unprecedented fifth term in 2018 unless the Liberals somehow, unexpectedly, miraculously get their act together there — in that its leader, Jay Weatherill, is exhibiting a willingness to at least engage in mature and realistic discussion about GST reform and allocations from the federal government to the states, unlike his Labor counterparts in Victoria and especially Queensland (and Shorten), who seem more content to use the issue as a political football, advancing “solutions” that are nothing of the kind, despite the heinous damage inflicted on the budget by Labor prior to 2013, and despite irrefutable evidence that the lingering malaise is now really beginning to damage the country internationally.

But the state Liberals in WA — re-elected in a massacre of the ALP three years ago that some thought could take three terms to undo — continue to wallow in poor poll numbers as an ageing Premier with no identifiable successor is walloped by the collapse in state revenues that derives from the end of the mining boom, and as his state staggers under ballooning debt loads as a consequence.

And the Labor government in Victoria wins this column’s early vote as the likeliest political bomb-out of 2016: Daniel Andrews’s promise that cancelling a contracted toll road across Melbourne would expose the state to no liability for compensation has been exploded as either incompetence or a lie, with the bill already at $1.1 billion — for no road or other tangible return — and not certain to remain at that level either; the state budget has been turned around on Labor’s watch in a single year from a surplus approaching $2bn to a deficit of some $250 million. Andrews looks and sounds out of his depth (which he is) and is backed by a ministry that could only be described as lacklustre. With unions almost openly running the Andrews government and its record to date conjuring up unflattering comparisons with the Cain-Kirner years, the prospect of this particular administration becoming a train wreck is a compelling one indeed.

The other obvious candidate for bomb-out of the year is one Clive Palmer, likely to be involuntarily ejected from federal Parliament if he is silly enough to stand again for his seat of Fairfax, where current polls show his support at 2%: Palmer has proven to be a destructive loudmouth, unsuited to politics, and bent only on causing as much damage to the Liberal Party as humanly possible — exactly as forecast in this column when he first put his head above the parapet three years ago and announced he would form his own party.

In fact, the effect of Palmer (and of the rabble elected under his banner to the Senate in 2013) has been tantamount to providing an additional faction to the ALP, so prejudicial to the Coalition’s interests has palmer proven.

And with revelations that Palmer “ghost directed” his failing nickel company under the alias “Terry Smith” — despite repeated public declarations he was “retired from business” — along with great anger from businesses and residents in his Sunshine Coast electorate (and not least, over the “Palmer Coolum Resort” that has been all but destroyed as a viable concern under his ownership), nobody can argue that getting the boot from voters is not exactly what he deserves.

It would have been better for Fat Clive to keep quiet. From what I’ve heard, voters aren’t the only group of people who have historically been amenable to the boofhead at first blush, only to develop a near-hatred for him once they got a good look. Perhaps being a shadowy, eccentric benefactor to the LNP now looks like a good wicket wasted in retrospect. Who knows what Palmer really thinks.

And that brings up time for me this morning: obviously there will be other issues, but my objective today was simply to provide a curtain-raising look at the main ones, keeping a weather eye on the political goings-on around the country from an overall perspective.

I’ll be back tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to a long, busy, exciting, and very interesting year in politics.

Can I thank readers for their continued support — last year was our best in terms of readership thus far — and ask that if you enjoy the conversations and debates that take place here, to spread the word to others with an interest in politics and to get them involved as well.

And don’t forget, if you’re not following me on Twitter already, you can do so @theredandblue.


*Take a bow, Bill McMahon.

Constitutional Denial: Palmer Rant Shows Need For Senate Reform

A RANT by Clive Palmer against reforms to how the Senate is elected merely underlines the need for reform to occur; as the instigator of a party that directly benefited from current unacceptable Senate election mechanisms, Palmer has a vested interest in preserving the status quo: if, of course, his motives aren’t simply to cause trouble. The Constitution explicitly provides for reforms he claims are unconstitutional to be made by Parliament.

I am pressed for time and on the run again today, although I will attempt to revisit the column with something different tonight; I have, however, been reading a piece from The Australian this morning — featuring a bellowing Clive Palmer in full flight against Senate reforms that he claims would impose an “Eastern Bloc and communist-type regime,” and in view of the apparent constitutional ignorance the remarks suggest I wanted to make some comment on them.

Regular readers know that aside from a complete opposition to proportional representation, I have regularly spoken of the awful — and deferred — consequences of the Hawke government’s changes to the Senate in 1984; that election enlarged the Senate from 64 to 76 Senators (in part, to maintain the nexus the Constitution stipulates, that the House of Representatives by roughly double the size of the Senate) and introduced, among other things, the group-ticket voting that in conjunction with the lower quotas for election that apply in a larger Senate are responsible for the chook’s breakfast we now see at Senate elections.

For some extra reading or a trip down memory lane, my own thoughts on Senate reform can be accessed here.

Palmer’s arguments are almost exclusively composed of the kind of sentiment that emanates from minority groups that seem to think parliamentary representation is a right, not something to be garnered by argument, persuasion, and making a case to earn the votes and trust of the Australian public.

This is, of course, a variant on my longstanding theme that defenders of the present Senate — speaking, as they do, of a “diversity of voices” the current system throws up as somehow justifying the election of Senators on a sliver of the vote thanks to convoluted preference arrangements — are wrong, and advance arguments that might seek to legitimise obscure candidates being elected with minimal support, but which fail to satisfy a reasonable threshold of being democratic.

The changes mentioned in the article from The Australian would put an end to clandestine preference deals being done to get a fringe candidate — any candidate — elected with virtually no support, as Ricky Muir was in Victoria in 2013 with half a percentage point of the primary vote.

They will stop group-ticket voting, whereby convoluted deals negotiated by each party dictate where electors’ preferences are distributed if they vote above the line for the Senate, providing more control for individual voters to determine how their votes are counted.

And whilst the quota for the election of a Senator will remain at 14.3% of the vote at a half-Senate election in line with those 1984 reforms, making it easier for smaller parties to achieve election than had previously been the case, the changes that are set to be implemented — subject to parliamentary approval, of course — will make it harder for the Senate to simply be the place you stand if you are unable and/or couldn’t be bothered to get out and campaign for a reasonable stipend of public support.

By contrast, Palmer — in a characteristic show of belligerence — claimed the changes would “rig and destroy democracy,” although it’s hard to see how: they would simply repeal measures introduced in 1984 that arguably should never have been introduced, and Senate elections (and Australian democracy) ran just fine without them until then.

How the changes will “disenfranchise Australians” as he claims is unknown, and Palmer’s assertion they would establish “Eastern Bloc and communist-type tendencies (sic)” amounts to nothing more than blather: in former communist bloc countries, of course, there was no choice at all other than between a selection of pre-approved Communist candidates, and nobody is suggesting such a system be adopted here.

Even so, Palmer and his acolytes claim the proposed changes amount to a “breach of the Constitution,” and the really interesting thing about that is that I can see no grounds on which a challenge on constitutional grounds could have any hope of succeeding.

If you go to the relevant part of the Constitution — and I’ve linked directly to the clauses that deal with he structure of the Senate, for ease — sections 7 to 9 in particular are explicit (and emphatic) that “Parliament” (in this case, the House of Representatives and the Senate passing enabling legislation as per normal parliamentary process) is solely responsible for the determination of how the Senate is elected, and is silent insofar as any prescription surrounding electoral methodology is concerned.

I wouldn’t ordinarily comment on matters that are before the Courts or might reasonably be expected to be tried there, but in this case the only grounds I can see for Palmer’s opposition is a giant dummy spit on the basis that his preference-addicted, preference-dependent party — if you could still call it “a party” — is about to find it far tougher to win or retain seats in the Senate.

Ignoring the supplementary Senate election that occurred in Western Australia earlier last year — unrepresentative as it is of a “normal” electoral event, and more closely resembling a by-election — Palmer’s candidates failed, in every Australian state and territory, to win enough votes to fill a single Senate quota or to even get close to doing so: and whilst plenty of candidates are elected despite failing to win quotas on their own, and will continue to be elected despite failing to do so under the flagged changes, the fact remains that Palmer, his candidates and his party had insufficient appeal anywhere in the country to muster 14.3% of the vote for the Senate.

I have opined plenty of times that there is no automatic right to seats in Parliament just because people have entitlement complexes over them: in my new, if you can’t muster a reasonable number of votes then you can hardly claim to have the support of the public.

And in that sense, Palmer’s opposition to, and tantrums over, the changes being contemplated should simply be ignored.

Heavily dependent on preferences to get anyone elected at all, Palmer’s outburst is an excellent reason in its own right for these changes to be made, for they have fostered just the culture of entitlement Palmer himself is effectively defending by trying to scuttle them.

In the end, the Constitution is explicit that Parliament has the right to determine the way the Senate is elected and — if these changes are legislated, and Palmer still doesn’t like it — then that is just too bad.

Perhaps Clive Palmer would be better served concentrating on his lower house seat of Fairfax, where he was also elected despite falling far, far short of enough votes on his own account.

Elected in Fairfax with just 26.5% of the primary vote (or a bit over half the votes polled by the defeated LNP candidate with 41.4%), nobody could realistically claim Palmer himself heralded any sort of tangible mass appeal to the overwhelming bulk of voters even in his own electorate.

After an obstructive term in the House of Representatives during which his party has fallen to pieces as MPs walk away from Palmer’s rumoured behaviour as a control freak — and during which Palmer has aided Labor by frustrating the conservative government, which will not sit well in a solidly conservative seat like Fairfax — it’s hard to see Palmer’s personal support trending anywhere but downwards when next he faces his constituents.

If, that is, he bothers to stand for re-election at all.

But Palmer’s outburst over the changes being considered to the method for electing the Senate stink of the self-interest and entitlement that goes with an assumption the system exists to feather the nest of anyone who is prepared to play it and game it.

It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t.

In this sense, all Palmer is doing is reinforcing the need for the touted changes to be implemented, and it is to be hoped his intemperate remarks merely stiffen the resolve of those determined to do something to clean up the undemocratic shambles and embarrassment the Senate has become.

In an irony Palmer will not like, his own party — operating under his own instructions — has been a direct exacerbating factor in terms of the embarrassment the Senate is and the dysfunctional character it has assumed since the 2013 election.

If he wants to complain about anything, perhaps he should look in his own back years first.


Gang Of One: The Divisive “Core Beliefs” Of Jacqui Lambie’s Party

POSSIBLY THE STUPIDEST PERSON ever elected to an Australian Parliament — mercenary Senator Jacqui Lambie — has chosen to emulate other deluded pathology cases, and to start an eponymous political party; said to be built on “core beliefs,” the Jacqui Lambie Network aspires to advance a narrow, contradictory, divisive agenda. Its sole beneficiary will be her public profile. Where principle is concerned, it will quickly be shown to have none.

I’m not going to make any apologies for this article giving the impression that it seeks to attack Jacqui Lambie personally; in view of such weighty pronouncements from the woman herself that she would personally block every government bill in the Senate until the Prime Minister and her colleagues acceded to the blackmail the threat implied — seemingly oblivious to the fact 74 other Senators get to vote on those bills as well — we’re not talking about a genius.

And in fact, this column has intermittently followed the travails and escapades of Senator Lambie with great interest: see here, here, here, here, here, here and here, just for starters.

In considering her incoherent and cringeworthy lack of comprehension of issues — such as the excruciating differentiation she drew between “Communist Chinese” and “Chinese” (the former able to be hit on Chinese soil with nuclear weapons without harming the latter in any way, or so her logic dictated) or her ridiculous understanding of the “Sharia Law” she so vehemently rages against — along with her foul mouth, her total lack of apparent refinement or sense of occasion or position, and the victim mentality she deploys as both justification and camouflage for her demented rants, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Lambie is in fact the stupidest person ever elected to any Parliament, at any level, anywhere in Australia.

(I acknowledge, however, that plenty of comers from all sides have constituted serious competition for that dubious honour).

And Lambie, who is explicitly on record as a stated aspirant to the position of Prime Minister, deserves as such to be assessed on her merits: and in this regard, her conduct and utterances to date reveal her to have none.

Her latest enterprise arguably boasts even less than that.

So let’s not waste any time on crocodile tears about a personal attack upon Jacqui Lambie.

For just like every other egomaniacal, self-obsessed pathology case who has come to Australian politics either deluded that they are the Messiah and/or in search of the gathering and exercise of brute power in their own hands, Lambie has seemingly decided that other Australians share her warped view of her own importance, and has started her very own party: the Jacqui Lambie Network, which sounds more like a bad comedy on a subscription TV channel than it does a serious attempt to build a political organisation.

Depending on preference, readers can peruse reports from the Murdoch and/or Fairfax press in relation to this Earth-shattering event.

In a clear sign Lambie learned nothing from the cyclonic Palmer United Party she recently stomped out of, she has already emulated one of Palmer’s worst mistakes: the appointment of a husband and wife team as chief adviser and holder of senior roles in the party’s organisational wing, respectively (a mistake also made in the case of the Liberal Party, of which Lambie should have been well enough aware to have avoided).

I’m not actually going to spend the time deconstructing the likely electoral appeal of Lambie’s new “force” — just like the credibility of her views and her merits as an MP at all, it has none — or on the fatuous fairy story of the overwhelming demand Lambie has received for a “Lambie brand in politics” (I think getting the sick bucket would be quicker and more expeditious for all concerned).

But I do want to look at the 12 so-called “core beliefs” her party is purported to be founded upon, for this creed is contradictory, divisive, and fashioned to give the impression of a limited individual working hard to grasp the implications of the issues she stands for when in fact, it is aimed merely at bolstering her own public profile.

(And that’s something that natural justice would see swiftly cut from under her too).

Right from the beginning, Lambie’s “core beliefs” get it wrong; the insistence that “members must always put their state first in all decisions they make” is simply a recipe for the Jacqui Lambie Network (or “JLN,” as it is already being somewhat irritatingly referred to) to descend quickly and irrevocably into a seething cesspit of state chauvinism and conflicting prejudices that are, by their nature and the word of this ridiculous edict, impossible to reconcile.

A similar recipe for chaos lies in the statement that JLN “supports conscience votes on all moral and ethical issues:” just how does it propose to demarcate these from “ordinary” issues? Which issues warrant the JLN’s lofty ethical and moral consideration, and which ones are merely so run of the mill that any question of conscience or ethics doesn’t apply to them? And it is clear that party discipline or a considered, united position on most things is not a priority for Lambie, which is perhaps a reflection on her own abysmal conduct as a member of Clive Palmer’s team, such as it was.

The “core beliefs” reveal Lambie to continue to obsess over the lot of veterans, with a number of motherhood statements on the subject intersecting with the almost complete disregard for the rest of the Australian community. (Never mind the fact that most service personnel I speak to are deeply affronted that this troublemaking miscreant from the junior non-commissioned ranks has the temerity to present herself as an authority on military matters, or to agitate on their behalf).

And I say “almost complete,” because Lambie enshrines in her party’s silly platform the incendiary, racially divisive scheme she first raised six months ago for reserved seats in Australian Parliaments for Aborigines: even if you accept the goodness of her intentions (and I don’t), this is one of the surest ways to stoke tension and resentment between black and white Australians any fool could volunteer. It does not matter what they do in New Zealand. It does not matter whether Lambie is of Aboriginal descent, a point hotly disputed in any case by some Aboriginal elders in Tasmania. It is little more than reverse racism, and the fact Lambie is prepared to argue for it should be a cause for alarm, not acclaim.

On and on it goes.

A transactions tax to “guarantee pensions” for returned servicemen; slashing foreign aid to boost university funding; support for the “proper regulation of Halal” (sic) and for a “monitoring and regulation system” to ensure fuel and electricity prices in Australia are no higher than overseas (wherever “overseas” is actually meant to be) that sounds like a recipe for interventionist government and the wastage of tens of billions of dollars in market-distorting subsidies that will render far more damage on the Australian economy than they will ever avert.

It’s all conflicting, turgid, pseudo-populist rubbish.

I particularly like the “Special Economic Zones” Lambie wants to establish in regional and rural areas to “help boost profitability and job creation.” How? Where? With what? What profitability? What jobs will be created? Only a fool would be hoodwinked by such empty gibberish.

Or — to paraphrase the immortal line from Don’s Party — the carbon tax Lambie supports, but only after “our major trading partners” introduce “a similar tax on their coal-fired power stations,” which in its half-a-bob-each-way sentiment sounds like a recommendation to eat shit in case it tastes like watermelon.

It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to see that the only thing Lambie wants to further or advance is herself: this mercenary political harlot, who has admitted “infiltrating” both the Liberal and Labor parties prior to her election to see what she could get from them before joining Clive Palmer’s ticket in a brazen move to get campaign funds, is not someone who can readily be accused of any consistency or principle in her public life to date.

I have seen some comments in the mainstream press this evening suggesting that all the Jacqui Lambie Network even exists for is to provide a vehicle with which to secure public election funding and, whilst this may or may not be the case, I don’t think Lambie stands to make all that much money from it, for one very salient — if cruel — reason.

Jacqui Lambie does not possess the mass appeal to rednecks and bogans of a Pauline Hanson; she does not possess the vast sums of cash to bankroll political campaigns or the inexhaustible bile and hatred and thirst for “vengeance” to single-mindedly drive them of a Clive Palmer.

Instead, Lambie is deservedly ridiculed and widely regarded as a joke, and an embarrassment.

And nobody will take her new party particularly seriously.

Back in November I characterised Lambie as an idiot whose like had never been seen in federal politics, and would hopefully never be seen again; and regrettably, her Jacqui Lambie Network is merely the latest proof that that assessment was far from inaccurate.

If this is what Lambie believes in, then God help Australia if she ever attains a position from which to act on it: she won’t, of course, for Australians might be generous to an underdog, but Lambie is asking too much of even that noble sentiment.

Once again, Lambie has proven herself to be just about the stupidest individual in politics today: and whilst there is nothing wrong with the ambition of becoming Prime Minister, there are some who are so defective as to fail to even be entitled to such a delusional aspiration in the first place.

Lambie sits in that category.


Palmer MPs Not Paid To Do Nothing

THE RIDICULOUS NEWS that Clive Palmer and his remaining two Senators will abstain from voting on legislation — on the dubious pretext of “chaos” resulting from the unfortunate contortions over the Liberal Party leadership — is an anti-democratic travesty; Palmer United MPs will continue to enjoy salaries, air travel, staffing and other taxpayer-funded perks for not doing their job. Such a refusal should coincide with departure from Parliament.

It is one thing for an MP to abstain from voting on a single bill, perhaps on principle, or due to a conflict of interest.

It is another matter altogether to simply refuse to vote on legislation altogether, as an act of wilful buffoonery designed to attract attention.

But the announcement by Clive Palmer that the remaining MPs from his silly party will refrain from voting on all legislation until the Liberal Party leadership (and thus the Prime Ministership) is “resolved” is a wanton piece of anti-democratic thuggery that deserves to be met with expulsion from federal Parliament.

Clive Palmer is on the record many times over the past 18 months as being flatly opposed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government; it seems that in his mad, bad stampede to hound former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman out of office, Palmer has lumped Abbott into the same category as the feisty Queenslander, and with leadership “chaos” (and what might constitute its resolution) being highly subjective concepts, it seems that once again Palmer is attempting to position himself as some kind of arbiter of acceptable standards of political conduct.

If Palmer wants to take action over unacceptable political conduct, he should perhaps seriously review the behaviour of his own party since its unfortunate inception.

Taxpayers resource federal MPs quite generously, with Palmer and each of his Senators paid in the vicinity of some $200,000 each; all are provided with staff, managed offices and other resources, and all are entitled to free travel and accommodation provisions for travel to Canberra.

In short, these individuals are not paid to do nothing: in taking advantage of these provisions, something is reasonably expected from them in return.

What Palmer might think — or demand, decree, or seek to engineer — where the leadership of other parties is concerned is utterly irrelevant to what he and his lamentable Senators were elected to do and (in the context of the Liberal Party and the Coalition more broadly) Palmer forfeited any right or justification he may once have had to input into such matters the day he stormed out of Queensland’s LNP because it wouldn’t behave in office as he expected it to.

There is also no political convention that enables any member of Parliament to cite “chaos” as a pretext for abstaining from voting on legislation, and certainly not where a proposed blanket abstention across all matters before its Houses is concerned.

Should Palmer make good his threat — which would complicate the ability of the government to pass legislation, and see the Palmer United Party fall into line with the similarly unthinking opposition to passing legislation of its brainless former Senator, Jacqui Lambie — it would constitute a reprehensible course of action, and one which should be used by opponents on all sides of the political spectrum to help ensure Palmer forces are preferenced out of winning election to any seat in any jurisdiction in any circumstances in future.

After all, aside from entertainment value that relies on the “train smash” principle, the Palmer United Party adds nothing constructive to politics and government in Australia.

I would hope that any absences from either the Senate or the House of Representatives that contravene Parliament’s Standing Orders are vigorously monitored and pursued: and that should any grounds under these provisions for expulsion from Parliament be satisfied, that the Abbott government will pursue these in an attempt to rid Canberra of the ugly blot on an already tarnished institution whose name has been further besmirched by the masquerade of malice as principle by this most undesirable of political entities.

Perhaps Clive Palmer should look in his own back yard before making faux stands of righteous indignation over “chaos” where the activities of others are concerned.

After all — directed to abstain from all votes on legislation — his Senators voted down a workplace relations bill last night.

It says it all, really.


LNP Corruption Rant: Palmer Must Put Up Or Shut Up

LIKE A RITALIN-ADDICTED BRAT, Clive Palmer has wasted no time wading into Queensland’s state election campaign to make vague allegations of corruption against the LNP government; he has also claimed Campbell Newman faced a leadership spill next week, which motivated the timing of the election announcement. Palmer claims to have evidence to back his wild stories. It is time — once and for all — for him to put up or shut up.

There is a certain idiocy in the fact that a political opportunist like Clive Palmer should apparently seek to arrogate to himself the role of an arbiter when it comes to the questions of official misconduct and corruption he purports to raise around Queensland’s LNP government generally and its Premier, Campbell Newman, in particular.

And there is an obscenity in the fact that rather than facilitate the flow of corroborating information he claims to possess to law enforcement agencies, Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission, or to other properly constituted statutory authorities charged with the investigation and prosecution of such matters, Palmer’s sporadic accusations and wildly vague allegations only ever get aired under the coward’s cloak of parliamentary privilege, at press conferences to attract attention, or in paid advertising material for the God-forsaken political vehicle created in his own name for the express purpose of destroying everything with a Coalition label on it.

Clive Palmer has wasted little time wading into the state election campaign getting underway in Queensland, making a series of statements in the media yesterday that appear to be carefully crafted to accuse the Queensland government and its Premier of official corruption whilst studiously avoiding saying anything specific enough to attract a writ for defamation in response.

Palmer adds precisely nothing to the public debate with these outbursts, unsubstantiated as they are; it is time for his intended audience — voters — to simply ignore the embittered ranting about imagined corruption that he peddles, and it is well past the point at which the mainstream media firmament should be holding him vociferously to account rather than allowing him to waffle on unretarded and providing the platform upon which to do so.

Palmer had indicated, earlier yesterday, to any journalist who would listen that he had “an election bombshell” about Newman’s government that would “blow the election campaign wide open,” and apparently wont to tantalise the media throng he clearly believes he holds in thrall declared he would “reveal to the world” the information he was sitting on: but just not yet.

But like a rampaging infant throwing a tantrum in its high chair (or like an attention-starved brat addicted to Ritalin), Palmer simply couldn’t refrain from airing his “knowledge:” the state election had been called to head off a leadership spill within the LNP this week, he said, and to avoid facing “scrutiny” over fresh allegations of corruption that were set to be heard at his very own Senate inquiry into Campbell Newman’s government.

That’s the very same (euphemistically named) Senate Inquiry into Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration Related to Commonwealth Government Affairs being chaired by Palmer stooge and Palmer United Party Senator Glenn Lazarus, whose “public hearings” often fail to attract attendees, and whose only tangible value to date has rested in the business it has generated for contract caterers booked to provide food and drink at each of the venues the inquiry utilises.

The same inquiry many of the country’s top legal minds — to say nothing of Coalition MPs — are convinced amounts to nothing more than an unconstitutional and politically motivated witch hunt, to which end moves are afoot to take action in the High Court to have it declared as such. The unconstitutionality side of it, at any rate.

And even if the inquiry survives such a challenge, the simple fact Palmer has declined to allow the existing mechanisms for dealing with corruption and alleged corruption in Queensland to deal with his accusations and salacious secrets exhibits a flagrant and cavalier disregard for proper process that conveys the distinct impression that Palmer believes he is a law unto himself, or a force of nature: and the rest of us will either submit to him, or be bullied and harangued into utter capitulation and abject humiliation in the most public fashion possible.

It’s ironic that this should be the stance of a man who stomped out of the LNP because it wouldn’t make decisions in government that were favourable to his business interests — and that, apparently, the buckets of money he has donated to Queensland’s conservatives seemed to make him think he was entitled to such preferment.

And it is ironic that an individual facing multiple legal actions from his Chinese business partners over accusations he improperly siphoned $12 million of their money from trust accounts to pay for his federal election campaign in 2013 should be ranting about corruption and implicating Campbell Newman and his colleagues in very serious allegations of misconduct when to date there has been not one shred of evidence either produced publicly nor offered to Police.

Palmer claims to have an email from a Queensland LNP Senator urging the Senate inquiry be shut down, which he seems to suggest somehow proves his wild insinuations against the Newman government; given so many people of educated opinion believe the inquiry to be an illegal charade — except Palmer of course, and except the ALP and the Communist Party Greens, both of which lack the integrity or the moral fortitude to refrain from participating in the grimiest and tackiest of political stunts at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers — such an email (if it even exists) is hardly a hanging offence.

Of the supposed leadership coup Palmer says was being plotted against Newman in an attempt to overthrow him this week, I don’t know if there’s any substance to it — I suspect there wasn’t — but even if there was, it’s too late to do anything about it now.

Either way, Palmer — again — is merely varying his attack on the Queensland Premier by seeking to foment instability within the LNP and doubts in the minds of its wavering voters.

Certainly, if there had been any truth to it, it would have offered a solution of sorts to the looming problem the LNP will have if it staggers across the line to re-election later this month, but Newman is defeated in his seat of Ashgrove.

But by the same token, a leadership change now, ahead of (say) an election in March, would probably have scuppered what slender prospects the LNP has for re-election at all, and on that basis alone my inclination is to suspect that Palmer is talking pure and unadulterated bullshit.

As usual.

Wild attacks made under parliamentary privilege that invariably contain no substance whatsoever are not “evidence” of corruption.

Stoking a media frenzy to attract free press exposure with a view to soliciting the votes of the gullible and the stupid does not amount to a meaningful contribution to public debate, nor the utterances given therein automatically accorded any basis in fact.

A personal vendetta against the Premier of Queensland and a hunger for retribution against his party do not qualify as matters of legitimate public interest.

A hare-brained and unconstitutional Senate witch-hunt convened at taxpayers’ expense for the sole purpose of advancing these endeavours is not an appropriate use of public funds and resources, to say the least.

And titillating hints of scandal, devoid of any proof, strategically fed into the opening days of an election campaign in Queensland whose outcome is uncertain do not amount to election “issues” that merit or deserve any media coverage at all, let alone the lavishly generous airtime and column space Palmer’s despicable antics are invariably rewarded with.

If Clive Palmer has any real evidence whatsoever of official misconduct or corruption on the part of Campbell Newman, his parliamentary colleagues, or indeed any other LNP figure at either the state or federal level, he should immediately hand this material over to the properly constituted authorities responsible for investigating such matters and undertaking prosecutions where indicated.

His outrageous Senate inquiry does not amount to a “properly constituted” authority in this regard.

If not, we can treat his words — and his Palmer United Party — with the contempt they deserve.

Palmer has beaten the drum of accusations against Campbell Newman and his government for years; had there been any substance to his wild rants to begin with, Newman would be in jail by now.

If he is unable to back his foolish outbursts with solid facts, Palmer should shut up once and for all — and the media should simply ignore him.

After all, silence from Palmer can only improve the calibre of the national political debate. It’s not as if anyone would be deprived of anything they’d miss, or regret.


State Election: LNP, Newman Set For A Belting In Queensland

WHATEVER THE RESULT of the state election called for 31 January this morning by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, his LNP government is set for a mauling so vicious it might — incredibly — land the conservatives in opposition three years after scoring the biggest election win in Australian history. Newman is all but certain to lose his seat. Even if the LNP survives in office, the coming bloodshed might make opposition seem preferable.

Over the next few weeks — because, really, that’s all we’re talking about — this column will closely monitor goings-on in the campaign ahead of the snap state election in Queensland on 31 January announced today by Premier Campbell Newman.

For those anticipating a second term for the LNP, or the re-election of Newman in his seat of Ashgrove, the early signs are very ominous indeed.

The election announcement — coming a day after the wide circulation of a red herring (that I received by SMS before 8am yesterday, Brisbane time) that Newman would leave for an overseas trade mission on Friday, with the state election on 28 February — is dangerously suggestive of a siege mentality among LNP strategists.

They may indeed have sprung the surprise they sought, with some media observers even now continuing to wonder aloud whether Newman will get on a plane on Friday. Yet when the dust settles in a day or two, this morning’s events will probably end up doing the LNP’s prospects far more harm than good.

For one thing, calling voters to the polls in the middle of the silly season, with kids on summer school holidays and amid Queensland’s searing and volatile January weather, is virtually unprecedented; far from Newman’s story that he couldn’t “allow” the ALP to engage in a “long, drawn out period of electioneering,” this looks like the desperate and fearful stampede to get to the polls as quickly as humanly (and legally) possible that it is.

For another, reputable opinion polling has been virtually unanimous in finding the LNP on track to lose around 30 seats and with them, possibly government; the LNP’s numbers have followed a gradual but ceaseless downward trajectory for well over 18 months, punctuated only by occasional ripples of support for the government that appear — in the context of polling over its lifespan — suspiciously like rogue results.

And it doesn’t take much to conclude that against this backdrop, the decision has been taken to get the election out of the way as fast as possible lest the LNP bleed even more of its support base, with the task of engineering an election win moving from “difficult” to “impossible” as a consequence.

Even so, this is going to be a tough fight for Queensland’s conservatives.

Regular readers of this column know that as early as late 2012 — barely six months after the stunning election win that delivered the LNP 78 of Queensland’s 89 seats — I detected the whiff of a one-term administration around Newman’s government; the catalysts I presented here were the fallout from Bruce Flegg’s departure from Cabinet and squabbling between ex-Liberals and ex-Nationals, but the real basis for my judgement was instinctive.

In the time since then, little has changed, and even if the LNP hangs on by just a seat or two, I think my reading of its predicament will have been vindicated.

We have of course spent a great amount of time discussing Queensland politics — especially through the prism of the Newman government’s problems — and those not across these conversations can access a selection of articles through the LNP tag in the tag cloud to the right of this one. I’ve had a quick flick through the first dozen or so whilst drafting tonight’s piece and the themes in all of them are constant, consistent, and incessant: nothing, in our comment on Queensland politics over the past three years, stands out as unjustified, or kneejerk in nature, or an overreaction to something that might have blown over in the fullness of time (and most of those “somethings,” of course, didn’t).

A government with the determination to enact tough measures in fulfilment of its mandate — which the LNP has done — owes itself the discipline and political fortitude to behave like a professional operation, not an amateurish rabble; consequently, for all the good that has been done in beginning to redress the legacy of 20 years of Labor rule in Queensland, it has been compromised and imperilled by the LNP’s inability to conduct its own house on an orderly basis.

Scandals over access by lobbyists, preferment, and the debacle over how to bring the career of former Liberal leader Bruce Flegg to an orderly (if involuntary) end are mere examples of the kind of thing I am talking about; regrettably, the merged conservative party has behaved in office exactly as the factionalised beast I foresaw many years ago, and if there’s one thing voters simply can’t stomach, it’s political parties — especially in government — fighting among themselves and squabbling over the spoils of their exploits.

Add in the vicious noise that now seems a permanent feature of the ALP playbook, with Campbell Newman portrayed as little better than Satan; Labor knows that if it yells the loudest, and makes the most outrageous allegations whilst doing so, people listen: it has done the same thing to Tony Abbott, tried it in Victoria against Denis Napthine, and would employ the same approach against Mike Baird in NSW if it thought it could get away with it.

Add in the determination of Clive Palmer — enraged by the LNP’s refusal to show the preferment to the mining baron’s business interests he clearly believed they deserved — and his ruthless crusade to destroy Newman, his government, the LNP, and anything else to do with the Coalition; in practical terms Palmer is going to accrue votes, and those votes could be lethal to the LNP’s prospects. More on that later.

Add in the uproar Labor, and their mates at the unions, have sought to provoke and stoke over virtually every legislative measure introduced by the LNP from the so-called VLAD laws to asset sales and debt retirement; it’s the same approach being used against Abbott, and because there are enough gullible people who fall for it, Labor knows the method works.

Add in the embarrassment of Scott Driscoll — who should never have been preselected in the first place — being forced out of Parliament and the 16% swing against the LNP that cost it the seat of Redcliffe at the resultant by-election.

Add in the resignation of Stafford MP Chris Davis, in protest over health policy, and the 18% swing (and loss of another seat) at that particular by-election.

Add in the embarrassment of the so-called “penis plonker,” Peter Dowling, disendorsed in disgrace from the seat of Redlands for sending pictures of his dick in a glass of red wine to his mistress via text message.

Add in all the other self-indulgent, undisciplined, ill-advised or downright stupid things the LNP at the organisational level can be legitimately fingered for, and it’s not difficult to see exactly how it arrives at its re-election hurdle staring stonily at the possibility of an unprecedented and humiliating defeat.

Newman’s claim that if he loses in Ashgrove, the LNP would have lost the state election “and vice versa” is disingenuous; sitting on a 5.7% margin, Newman’s electorate would fall on a swing of about half that required to cause the overall defeat of the government, and many voters are smart enough to work out they’re being played as fools with rhetoric of this nature.

His refusal to answer questions around whether another seat might be vacated for him if he loses in Ashgrove merely adds to the uncertainty and the fear of chaos surrounding a potential replacement as Premier.

And the LNP’s ongoing refusal to level with Queenslanders about a successor if Newman loses his seat but the party scrapes back into office without him has the potential to scrub tens of thousands of votes from the LNP’s tally, as those in the south-east in particular react to the possibility that the vastly unpopular deputy Premier Jeff Seeney might be the anointed favourite.

A lot of noise is already being made by LNP types about the risks of returning to Labor; that the ALP has no policies and no plan, and I simply point out that people bent on removing a government are not going to care less about such arguments, however valid they might be: they didn’t in Victoria in 1999, they didn’t federally in 2007, and they almost certainly won’t now.

As I said at the weekend, common sense dictates a narrow win for the LNP at this election, with a new Premier selected by its surviving MPs after the votes are finalised, but I’m not confident enough to make any firm predictions at this time beyond being certain Newman will lose Ashgrove.

I do think a huge swing is about to hit the LNP; possibly as much as 12%, and certainly enough to tip it out of office depending on where the votes fall.

If the party survives in office, however, it will be by a margin so narrow — and probably with most of the contingent of ex-Liberals holding Brisbane seats defeated — that internal recriminations and infighting will almost certainly consume what’s left of the government in its second term.

I do think the LNP has performed well enough in office to merit a second term, but its confrontational approach — combined with destructive forces beyond its control, some of which we have recapped here this evening — and its inability to present as an astute and disciplined party machine all now stand to contrive to inflict a heavy blow on the LNP that might yet see it lose power.

I think it’s going to be close enough for Clive Palmer’s preferences to prove decisive; if these are directed to the LNP and flow accordingly, they will probably be enough to get the government across the line, although in what kind of condition remains a point of conjecture.

But if Palmer directs his preferences to the ALP or declines to direct preferences at all — and especially if the Palmer votes simply exhaust — then Labor and the Greens would have to be regarded as a mild favourite to win a surprisingly early return from the political wilderness.

Tonight’s post is merely to get some opening thoughts on the table, and we will track the campaign as it progresses.

But a rush to the ballot box in the middle of people’s family time belies the very real — and existential — threat the LNP government faces, and whilst it’s certain there will be a new Premier of Queensland next month, the question this election will really resolve is whether Queenslanders also throw Newman’s party out onto the George Street pavement with him.