Opinion

Turnbull's folly puts LNP under the hammer

Bill Hoffman reckons Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls must be looking forward to the looming Queensland election like he would a hole in the head.
Bill Hoffman reckons Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls must be looking forward to the looming Queensland election like he would a hole in the head. DARREN ENGLAND

LNP leader - that's Tim Nicholls for the many who couldn't name who that is - must be looking forward to the looming Queensland election like he would a hole in the head.

His "lazy, do-nothing, Labor government", mantra introduced into nearly every interview he does and media release he puts out is about to be swamped by a national debate from which he will cop the fall out.

The unnecessary and non-binding national plebiscite will set Australians against Australians in a debate that is already without civility concerning an issue about which everyone is entitled to an opinion but no one should have the right to impose on others. A democracy should carry with it the fundamental principle of equality, not be used as hammer to deny it.

As Coalition Acting Special Minister of State Senator Mathias Cormann futilely struggles to keep the viciousness out of the marriage equality debate, the uncontrollable force of social media is already in full swing.

Like it or not, fair or inaccurate as it is, many in the public see the Coalition as the LNP and refer to it as such. As a consequence, and at least on social media the political entity peculiar to Queensland wears whatever approbation comes Malcolm Turnbull and his government's way.

Which has meant the LNP, as it attempts to find its own election footing, is being skewered by every miss-step and lack of leadership displayed by Malcolm Turnbull and the unfocussed and deeply-divided rabble he supposedly leads.

The marriage equality plebiscite will end up under challenge in the courts, public debate will be hurtful and prolonged and the vote will come as Nicholls attempts an increasingly unlikely resurrection of a party still looking back three years to try and understand what went so horribly wrong.

And all the while as he bleats "lazy do-nothing Labor government" into a vacuum as ears, eyes and all attention will be focused on the dysfunction of a Federal Government permanently trapped in its own demonstrable do-nothing mode of indecisiveness.

And in his own back yard and increasingly under his ribs is a One Nation Party which is picking from a portfolio of soft targets to play the bush off against the city.

One Nation Queensland leader Steve Dickson is a very busy man, has a lot of people with innumerable issues knocking at his door and even if he fails to hold the arguably unwinnable conservative seat of Buderim, it won't be for lack of trying.

Certainly, and despite protestations from local LNP MPs to the contrary, he has succeeded in tying the LNP to the Palaszczuk government budget for which it voted - not because it would have cut money to essential services as it continues to falsely claim - but because it feared the campaign Labor would unleash if it didn't.

In other words, the LNP has backed the Labor budget because it lacked the strength to argue why it shouldn't, fearing Labor would seek to misinform the public as to the potential consequence in the manner it is itself now doing to paint One Nation, the Katter Australia Party and Independent Rob Pyne as irresponsible rogues.

There is no question these machinations will go effectively unnoticed in the welter of city seats in the south-east, but the regions including those on the outer fringe of its vast urban sprawl is another matter.

There voters aren't attempting to dissect the often indecipherable utterances of Pauline Hanson. They are just looking for an alternative to the conservative party they have long lost faith in.

In the city, Tim Nicholls and the LNP will also struggle to attract attention, perhaps still sure of the support of the increasing aging demographic of its party membership - although among them are those looking for blood over the Federal Government's superannuation retrospectivity.

His job will be made all the harder by a national plebiscite which has cut ground from under his own campaign for survival, tying him in the process to a national debate that is already threatening to tear the country apart.

And all the while the issues Australians - whether in Queensland or nationally - really have a lot more to worry about including household debt, wage inequality, tax inequity, what to do with those poor souls trapped in the nowhere land of Manus Island, the waft of corruption that now hangs over every level of government and an economy beholden to the unsustainability of perpetual growth all get left on the sidelines.

Topics:  bill hoffman editors picks lnp one nation opinion column politics



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