Liberal club dinner
Last Monday night was the first meeting of the “liberal club (Qld)“, which has attracted a bit of media attention. The club was started by a handful of people who used to be centrally involved with the former Qld Liberal Party — namely Gary Hardgrave (former federal Liberal MP for Moreton), Bob Carroll (former President of Qld Libs), Geoffrey Greene (former State Director of Qld Libs) and Santo Santoro (former state MP & Senator for Qld Libs). I don’t really know any of these people.
The formation of the new group led to a bit of excitement, and VEX news reported them as “splitters” and “rebels” who are against the merged Liberal National Party (LNP). Others claim it is just a group for like-minded people to eat & chat.
Originally, the guest speaker was going to be Liberal SA Senator Nick Minchin, but he pulled out. In the end, there were no current politicians at the event, and the LNP was clear in pointing out that the liberal club was not officially linked to the political party. A few ex-pollies came along, some LNP members, and some non-members.
Given my curiosity about politics and liberalism, and my interest in Nick Minchin (who was apparently a member of the libertarian “workers party” at one stage in the 1970s) I decided to attend. When Minchin pulled out, I nearly pulled out too… but as I had already paid, I figured I may as well go along.
In the end, the dominant theme of the evening was that former Liberals should not be worried about the past, but should be looking to the future. Both keynote speakers said that all liberal-minded people should be working together to support the LNP and defeat the Bligh Labor government. During the open-mic session a few people got up to say that they didn’t like the merged party, and didn’t want to work with the Nationals… but a majority of people (certainly near me) agreed with the keynote speakers.
I can certainly understand that some people feel left out of the merged party, and some people will disagree with some party decisions. But that is inevitable in any group bigger than a family. The simple truth is that mainstream politics involves compromises, tolerance, and putting up with some things that you disagree with. In general, I think the LNP executive has been doing a pretty good job of balancing the many competing issues that face a mainstream political party.
I also thought it was amusing that while some people are complaining that the LNP was becoming too “right-wing” and not “liberal”, across town the Young LNP endorsed a policy of legalising voluntary euthanasia. Seems like liberalism is alive and well in the party.
I can understand why the founders of the club wanted to re-engage with some former-Liberals… but personally, I didn’t get much out of the evening. I’m not a former-Liberal (having only joined after the merger) and I don’t have a problem either with LNP management or the liberal club. I was hoping for a more nuanced discussion of philosophy or some consideration of significant policy issues, like how to balance the budget or hospital reform (or voluntary euthanasia). Next time, perhaps.