Jul 112008

I’ve been somewhat amused by the on again-off again Liberal / National merger drama, especially so since former Indigenous Affairs Minister in the Howard government, Mal Brough,  came on the scene.

It’s pretty clear that the man has ambition, and that has to be a good thing, in general. Something the Queensland Liberal Party seems to have had plenty of in the past, ill-directed as it has been. However, to a disinterested onlooker like myself, it seems that Brough also has an ego bigger than Muhammad Ali. As Skyhooks told as in the Seventies, ego is not a dirty word, but it can be hellishly difficult to tolerate.

We first saw Brough’s scone above the parapet when the Liberal Party Presidency came up for grabs. Clearly, the party factionalism, driven by undoubtedly by Santo Santoro, wanted Brough in the fray, given that he’d lost his federal seat last November. The man has a profile, for better or worse, something the Liberals sorely need here in Queensland. Once in the chair, we hear that Brough now wants the presidency of the merged political entity, or he’ll make certain that no one has it by ensuring the merger is stillborn. Last evening we hear that Brough denies having made such claims, and that the federal Liberal Party President, Alan Stockdale, has entered the fray, doubtless as Brough’s behest, to stretch forth the rod of federalism and calm troubled waters.

To further complicate issues, the Liberals parliamentary leader, Mark McArdle, makes very positive noises about wanting the merger to succeed, even though he’ll only be a leader in his own lunchtime. Altruists would agree that a merged and unified non-Labor political force is essential for democracy in Queensland, but altruism and politics are anathema to each other. If we’re honest, politics is about personal ambition first and foremost, with public service a distant second for a great majority of politicians. Especially those like Mal Brough. Once the heady brew of power and position has been supped, it must be terribly hard to put down. Brough now claims that unless a Liberal is gifted the Presidency, then the merger is off. Too bad about what the majority might want, eh? Doesn’t the word ‘merger’ infer some modicum of equality? This despite the fact that in Queensland, Liberals are a distinct minority in Parliament. Incongruous really when one considers the grandstanding Brough is going on with.

It’s a fun issue and one sure to create more distractions for non-Labor politics than a stripper in church.

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