How to fix a party that has had too many leaders and too few votes

As the only viable leader to take the LNP forward, David Crisafulli needs to mend bridges and bring the party faithful with him, writes Madonna King

Nov 05, 2020, updated Nov 05, 2020
Queensland's likely new Opposition Leader, David Crisafulli, with his family on the Gold Coast (pic: Deb2020)

Queensland's likely new Opposition Leader, David Crisafulli, with his family on the Gold Coast (pic: Deb2020)

Politics is unfair.

It’s understandable that supporters of Jackie Trad, for example, are now licking their wounds, believing she was ripped off because – despite looking and looking and looking – she was cleared by the Crime and Corruption Commission of wrong-doing.

Sometimes it’s fair too, rewarding those local MPs – from all parties – who start working for their constituents the day after the poll. Di Farmer, in the Brisbane seat of Bulimba, is a case in point, and that’s why she sailed home on Saturday night.

It’s not just Labor where the fairness coin has been tossed in this poll, leaving some winners and some losers.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington, if judged on passion and work ethic, does not deserve to lose her job. But that’s not how political leaders are judged.

She lost the election, and now it’s almost protocol that she loses her job. What was refreshing – and not always the case – is her propensity to immediately take responsibility.

Some leaders – such as Tony Abbott and Paul Keating in another Parliament and Campbell Newman here – still seem unable to do that!

Frecklington, who could not always boast the support of everyone in her team, should be remembered as an articulate and hardworking leader.

We forget sometimes in Queensland, so often dismissed on the national stage, that we have boasted more female political leaders than any other state.

Frecklington, along with ALP Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, has given young women a tangible example of political leadership to which they might aspire.

This political campaign, while a cure for insomnia, was almost certainly more courteous and polite, as a result.

But now the LNP needs to look for a leader that can beat Annastacia Palaszczuk who, despite all the claims, fell into this job – and then made it her own.

Beating Labor is not as difficult as beating its leader; and that’s why this election was almost entirely fashioned around the premier.

And when you line up those LNP candidates for the top job, David Crisafulli is the only viable one.

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At 41, he’s young. He’s lived in the country and the city. He’s educating a young family, on the Gold Coast – which is now a crucial battleground.

He’s worked in local government and in state government. He’s been a Cabinet minister and on the Opposition benches. And he’s as hungry as hell.

Importantly, he is well-placed to be able to straddle that tricky challenge of representing the LNP’s interests in both city and country areas; a hurdle that other leaders have been unable to clear.

He has challenges too; already disgruntled LNP folk are picking up the phone to claim he is disingenuous and didn’t go out of his way to help Frecklington bring home the trophy on Saturday.

Disunity is death in politics, and despite being the only contender, so far, in an LNP leadership vote, he needs to be able to mend those bridges and take the party with him.

His tie to the most unpopular leader in modern Queensland political history – Campbell Newman – will also continue to give the ALP ammunition. It’s not just a political tie; they’ve shared an enduring friendship.

But it’s almost time the Newman legacy – sacked workers, arrogant government, and a lack of consultation – was laid to rest.

At some point, we all move on from bad boyfriends, bad decisions and bad investments.

This is no different. The LNP, which has had too many leaders and too few votes in the past few elections, needs to look to the future, and hope voters do the same.

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