Federal attorney-general George Brandis has told a senior Liberal Party powerbroker that Queensland’s conservative opposition is “very, very mediocre” and hinted that the Liberals may look at splitting from the Nationals in the state.
The Queensland senator’s private conversation with Victorian Liberal Party boss Michael Kroger was captured on microphone by Sky News.
Here’s the incident:
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) November 21, 2016
Kroger asked how LNP opposition leader Tim Nichols was going.
“They’re not very good,” Brandis said.
“I’d say that the state opposition is very, very mediocre, and the state government is very, very mediocre.”
Nichols became opposition leader after the LNP government of Campbell Newman lost power after just one term last year.
The resurgence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in Queensland, two decades on – in the 1998 state election, One Nation gained nearly 23% of the vote and 11 of 89 seats – was vexing Brandis, who said “the thing that is alarming everyone is, as you would expect, is the sudden spike in One Nation, which [is] now at about 16%”.
The senator believed “they will win quite a few seats in the state election”.
“Their strength is in heartland National Party seats, and heartland Labor Party seats, the old industrial seats around Ipswich and western Brisbane,” he said.=
But the issue that he believes will have the Liberals and Nationals rethinking their merger less than a decade after they combined in Queensland is that the Labor government of Annastacia Palaszczuk is bringing back compulsory preferential voting.
Brandis told Kroger that “somewhat attacks the raison d’etre of the merger of the Liberal Party and National Party”.
“I think there might be a revisiting of things as a result of compulsory preferential voting,” he said.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.