(Cairns... Far North Queensland)
WAKE UP TIME FOR NATIONAL PARTY
is now an historical fact that Sir
Joh Bjelke-Petersen was
the driving force in the National Party in Queensland, and Australia, together
with a group of ruthlessly efficient Ministers ran Queensland like a well-oiled
machine. Not everyone was happy with the management style but everyone respected
the certainty and predicability they offered and the results they invariably
achieved. There were few if any of the health, water and other crises that we
regularly experience today.
that time, and despite widespread claims of “gerrymander” it is interesting
to note that when the Bjelke-Petersen Government was returned, as it was again
and again, it was always with an absolute majority of votes. They were returned,
as the pundits say, by popular acclaim.
are the sort of results that our present leader of the National Party Lawrence
Springborg can only dream about, running as he is at about 7% of the vote and as
far away from Government as it is practicably possible to get. His position is
not helped by a series of “on again off again” coalition deals with his
State Liberal colleagues who themselves are trying to distinguish themselves
Dissension within the National Party rank and file has now been growing for many years and slowly the Party has substantially lost not only its electoral appeal but also any sense of direction, identity and unity. There was a time when the National Party comprised a vibrant organisational structure and a dynamic political wing, both of which and not infrequently, fought tooth and nail to gain popular acceptance of some proposal or policy.
Today in Queensland we have a sitting parliamentarian as the President of the organisational wing and some would claim that this has effectively destroyed that healthy and vibrant divide and debate that had previously existed. In fact some would postulate further that the positioning of a parliamentarian into the Presidential post was specifically undertaken so as to cut off any support and succour that dissenting party politicians could hope to get from the rank and file. The instance of Barnaby Joyce and the Telstra sale vote does come to mind.
more importantly the National Party has lost its direction and mission. The
Party was always strongly supportive of Queensland on the Federal scene and
strongly Australian on the international scene. The perception is that the Party
has lost this “local” sense of direction and is now simply yet another Party
trying to survive in the hotly contested middle ground of philosophy that
encompasses all major Parties today. Globalisation and private ownership of what
were State assets is now rampant in the mainstream and the traditional National
Party supporter generally opposes this.
There is no need for the National Party to enter into this crowded mainstream field and if ever they needed any confirmation in this regard then the happenings of this week in Canberra should be sufficient. This was the week where Senator Julian McGauran abandoned the National Party to join the Liberal Party and this has had the ramifications so clearly, and swiftly, spelt out in the Prime Ministers Cabinet reshuffle.
Naturally enough some of the blame for this weeks happenings has been sheeted home to Barnaby Joyce, fairly or otherwise, but the clear message is there that if the junior coalition partner deviates from the major party script then given any opportunity they will be made to pay for it in spades.
of course leaves the electorate in a bind, as a vote for the National Party in
coalition is in fact a vote for the Liberals irrespective of the Nationals
position. If we go back over 2005, even superficially, we recall that the then
National Party Trade Minister Mark Vaile signed a Trade Agreement with the
United States that was clearly detrimental to Australia’s primary producers.
At about the same time the then Agriculture Minister Warren Truss failed totally and absolutely to adequately respond to an illegally introduced citrus canker outbreak in the Emerald district. This is hardly traditional National Party behaviour.
if the National Party proposes to have a place in the future running of this
country then they had better get their collective heads together and develop a
philosophy that distinguishes them from the other parties. In short they need
some “product differentiation” and they need it quickly as oblivion is
they don’t then the electorate can be forgiven for switching from National
Party to Independent candidates as this will at least offer them some assurance,
namely that their ideals will not be sacrificed on the alter of compromise and
Monday 23 January 2006
RETURN TO: INDEPENDENT VIEW
Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870