Saturday, 3 September 2011

A politician that can't retain his seat should take stock of his usefullness.

LNP MP Peter Slipper threatens revolt as win looms for Mal Brough

Federal opposition MP Peter Slipper has threatened to join the crossbenches if an internal vote today backs Howard government minister Mal Brough to head the branch of the Queensland Liberal National Party in his electorate of Fisher.

The veteran MP and Deputy Speaker wrote yesterday to LNP members in his Sunshine Coast seat, warning that his position as a federal LNP MP would become "untenable" if Mr Brough were elected to chair the Fisher federal divisional council.

Mr Brough has made no secret of his intention to challenge his former parliamentary colleague in the next LNP preselection for Fisher.

Party sources said last night that Mr Brough had the overwhelming numbers to defeat the current FDC chairman Greg Robinson, a long-time ally of Mr Slipper.

"This is not a vote so much for Mr Brough but a vote against Mr Slipper, whose time has come," one source said.

In an email to branch members, sent on parliamentary letterhead, Mr Slipper accused Mr Brough, who lost the neighbouring seat of Longman at the 2007 election, of running for the party position in a "de facto preselection campaign".

In the email, obtained by The Weekend Australian, Mr Slipper does not name Mr Brough but says the person nominating to replace Mr Robinson had been highly critical of the LNP.

"It has been wrongly suggested that this bid has Tony Abbott's blessing," Mr Slipper wrote."I have spoken to Tony and he has assured me this is certainly not the case."

Mr Brough was Queensland Liberal Party president at the time of the 2008 merger of the Liberals and the Nationals and fell out with Nationals officials over the terms of the establishment of the new conservative entity.

But a truce was brokered last year between Mr Brough and LNP state president Bruce McIver. After serving as communities minister and then overseeing the Howard government's intervention in 73 Northern Territory communities, Mr Brough became a favourite of John Howard and was touted as a future leader.

But he lost his seat in the Rudd landslide. Longman was won back for the Coalition by young rookie Wyatt Roy at last year's election.

The looming challenge from Mr Brough, who joined the LNP last December, has been increasingly bitter.
New members have flooded branches in support of the former federal MP.

Mr Slipper has declared that he is confident of retaining preselection. "I don't believe he has the slightest chance in hell in being elected in the seat of Fisher," Mr Slipper said last December. Mr Slipper described Mr Brough as egocentric and divisive.

After the last election, Mr Slipper angered the Opposition Leader when he brokered a deal with the Gillard government to accept the position of Deputy Speaker, pocketing an extra $30,000.

In the email, Mr Slipper issued a thinly veiled threat about his voting intentions if he were to quit the LNP.
"If the coup is successful, my position as a parliamentary member of the LNP becomes untenable," he wrote.

"This would not be helpful to the Coalition in a hung parliament where every vote counts."

Last week, several newspapers reported speculation in Canberra that Mr Slipper could be asked by the Gillard government to serve as speaker if the Craig Thomson affair forced a by-election in his seat of Dobell and Labor lost.

Under the scenario, Labor would shift Harry Jenkins to the backbench, preserving its majority in the lower house and offer the speaker's chair to Mr Slipper.



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