The man once described by Clive Palmer as "the lucerne farmer from Monto" is quitting as Queensland's Deputy Premier.
|Annastacia Palaszczuk - |
new Queensland Premier.
DEPUTY Premier Jeff Seeney will withdraw from the LNP’s leadership this morning, paving the way for the party to conduct a smooth transition from the Campbell Newman era.
The Courier-Mail can reveal senior LNP figures held a secret meeting late yesterday afternoon to hammer out a leadership deal to avoid a contest descending into open warfare.
Mr Seeney, Infrastructure and Planning Minister in the Newman government, will resign as deputy LNP leader after working as one of the defeated premier’s chief lieutenants for the past three years.
However, sources scotched speculation he would retire, confirming Mr Seeney would remain in parliament after securing his seat of Callide in Saturday’s wipeout.
Details of the leadership transition were still being hammered out last night, with the contenders silent about their prospects.
Newman government Treasurer Tim Nicholls, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek were all considered options.
Some LNP figures were also pushing for new blood in the LNP’s upper echelons with Transport Minister Scott Emerson and assistant minister Deb Frecklington long-odds options.
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Mr Nicholls had been talked up during the election campaign as the frontrunner to replace Mr Newman.
But LNP figures believe Mr Nicholls should not be involved, given his integral role in the ill-fated Newman era and as the salesman of asset sales.
Mr Springborg and Mr Langbroek are the two other leader and deputy options and both have support in the LNP party room.
The LNP was resigned to defeat on Saturday night but hopes were raised of potentially forming a minority government with Katter’s Australian Party’s two MPs after several seats fell in their favour.
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The LNP now looks likely to secure 42 seats at most, a loss of 31 and one short of the number needed to be in a position to begin proper negotiations with KAP.
Senior figures believe that Labor is not ready to govern and could be reduced to a one-term administration if the LNP could sustain stable leadership.
Mr Newman and his staff are being blamed for the election defeat with some LNP insiders angry that several of the premier’s closest advisers appeared to be in high spirits during the party’s sombre post-election get-together.
Early yesterday, LNP president Bruce McIver, who was a driving force in the push to have Mr Newman become premier, announced an “external review” into the party’s downfall.
He took aim at Prime Minister Tony Abbott for announcing Prince Philip’s knighthood during the election campaign. “I would have rathered that Wally Lewis got the gong,” Mr McIver said.
He indicated the LNP might consider an untried leader and dumping policies, in a sign that the highly unpopular proposed asset sales might be axed.
“I think what we’ll be looking for will be some fresh ideas, fresh start, fresh leadership team,’’ he said.
“We’ll be looking at all those issues to make sure that we start today to re-engage with the Queensland people.”