Liberal National Party MP Tim Mander has resigned from the Queensland Opposition frontbench and will contest the party leadership this Friday. It comes hours after Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg called an impromptu LNP partyroom meeting to deal with persistent questions over his leadership.
Former deputy premier Jeff Seeney said he had emailed his LNP colleagues to tell them he would move a motion at the meeting for leadership positions to be declared vacant.
Mr Mander said he decided to stand because “people keep advising me that they want a fresh change to the leadership of the LNP, they want someone that’s got new ideas”.
He would not say whether he thought he had the numbers to win.
“Let’s see what happens on Friday. I do know that there are many of my colleagues that do believe the same thing: that they want to change,” he said.
‘I don’t think people are looking for professional politicians’
While he only came to Parliament in 2012, Mr Mander said he had years of leadership experience in both the public and private sector.
“I don’t think people are looking for professional politicians, what they’re looking for is people who are authentic,” he said.
He only holds the northern Brisbane seat of Everton on a narrow margin.
“I don’t really see the relevance, if we don’t win my seat we definitely won’t win government. It’s a totally different seat from Campbell Newman, where it was possible for him to win his seat and for us to hold government.
“That was mathematically not right when he said that.”
Speaking on Wednesday night, Mr Springborg declined to say whether he felt confident about holding on to the leadership.
“As I’ve done in the past, I don’t make any comments on these things,” he said.
“I’ll go into the partyroom and we’ll discuss this matter there.”
‘A lot of anonymous media commentary’
Opposition MPs were not due to meet until next Monday, but Mr Springborg texted his colleagues to bring it forward to 11:00am on Friday.
“You would all be aware that in recent days there has been a lot of anonymous media commentary from a handful of colleagues about the direction of the LNP,” the text read.
“Given the ongoing nature of this commentary, I am keen to provide an early opportunity for any of these members to be able to raise their issues with you directly.
“I believe it is important to bring forward this meeting given State Parliament is sitting next week; given the LNP is kicking off its Toowoomba South by-election [campaign] this Saturday with our candidate endorsement; and given the reasonable prospects that a federal election could be underway by next Monday.
“I look forward to your attendance; and look forward to your ongoing support.”
A source within the LNP has told the ABC Mr Springborg is confident he will maintain the party leadership, but decided to call the meeting to end the “nonsense” of speculation.
Earlier this week, Deputy Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said he was happy to serve under Mr Springborg.
“I’m happy to serve as his deputy, he’s done a great job taking us to a lead in the two-party-preferred polling,” he said.
A ReachTel poll last week put the LNP ahead of Labor at 52 to 48 per cent, two-party-preferred.
But it is understood leadership rumblings were sparked by Labor’s surprise move to introduce compulsory preferential voting (CPV), which could hand them an extra eight seats at the next election.
Springborg doesn’t have the numbers: Labor
Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the LNP was trying to do each other in.
“What I’m hearing is Lawrence Springborg does not have the numbers,” he said.
Health Minister Cameron Dick denied the LNP leadership troubles would spark talk of an early state election.
“That’s ultimately a matter for the Premier to determine the timing of an election, but clearly we continue to deliver for Queensland. We’ve had a number of pieces of legislation passed through the Parliament in the last sitting week.”