LNP’s rear­guard ac­tion

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - SARAH VOGLER sarah.vogler@news.com.au

A MA­JOR cam­paign is un­der­way be­hind the scenes within the LNP to head off an at­tempt to end the po­lit­i­cal ca­reers of three Op­po­si­tion MPs who backed abor­tion de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion.

Tim Ni­cholls, Steve Min­nikin and Jann Stuckey have been un­der fire since they used the con­science vote they were granted by the LNP party room to back the Ter­mi­na­tion of Preg­nancy Bill last month.

They did not break party rules by ex­er­cis­ing their vote the way they did.

But they did vote against the party’s abor­tion law pol­icy that the LNP not sup­port any changes.

And that has filled many with “white hot rage”.

Mo­tions have been passed in lo­cal branches and by the Young LNP to sup­port a push at this com­ing week­end’s meet­ing of the pow­er­ful LNP State Coun­cil to block the trio from be­ing able to seek pre­s­e­lec­tion to run again at the next state elec­tion.

The State Coun­cil meet­ing is taking place just a month af­ter the abor­tion Bill vote in the con­ser­va­tive strong­hold of Bund­aberg.

But a week is a long time in pol­i­tics and many se­nior party mem­bers, cur­rent and for­mer state and fed­eral MPs and party el­ders are hop­ing four weeks will have been enough time to ease the thirst of those bay­ing for the trio’s blood.

Sev­eral in­flu­en­tial mod­er­ate, and some more hard-line, party mem­bers have been heav­ily lob­by­ing their an­gry State Coun­cil col­leagues in a bid to con­vince them how dam­ag­ing any at­tempt to dump the trio over their vote will be. Both in­side the party and out. Con­science votes might not be in the party’s rules but it is a long-held con­ven­tion of the par­lia­men­tary wing that one can be granted for mat­ters of life and death. And most cur­rent and for­mer MPs hold that abil­ity very dear.

Some, like War­ren Entsch, have al­ready pub­licly warned any ac­tion taken against the MPs could sound the death knell for the merged party.

On the flip side, not do­ing any­thing could also fur­ther anger a grow­ing, harder right sec­tion of the party’s mem­ber­ship that has al­ready been flex­ing its mus­cles in re­cent weeks.

Cri­sis talks are un­der­stood to have been held at State Par­lia­ment last sit­ting week be­tween Op­po­si­tion Leader Deb Freck­ling­ton, Tim Man­der and se­nior party fig­ures to nut out a way for­ward.

Both Ms Freck­ling­ton and Mr Man­der have pub­licly de­clared they will sup­port their MPs and have de­fended their right to the con­science vote.

It is un­der­stood a com­pro­mise could be reached whereby an in­flu­en­tial State Coun­cil mem­ber can rise to rep­ri­mand the trio from the floor next week­end over their de­ci­sion not to vote in line with party pol­icy.

This would be in­stead of a for­mal ur­gency mo­tion to block their abil­ity to seek pre­s­e­lec­tion ahead of the 2020 state poll.

It might not stop a fu­ture State Coun­cil mov­ing to re­ject their nom­i­na­tions, but it would al­low their lo­cal branches to have the abil­ity to de­cide for them­selves if they want to rec­om­mend that the MPs should be given an­other go.

All three are un­der­stood to have the sup­port of those branches – their state elec­torate coun­cils – at this stage at least.

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