| 22.11,11. 05:07 AM |
Abbott calls for calm over Slipper challenge
November 22, 2011
THE Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, is urging the Queensland Liberal National Party to show restraint amid a growing push for a quick preselection challenge against the federal Liberal MP and Deputy Speaker, Peter Slipper.
Mr Abbott and others in the Liberal Party feel that if Mr Slipper loses his preselection, he may quit the party and sit on the cross benches, costing the Coalition a precious vote in the finely balanced Parliament.
The Liberal Party federal director, Brian Loughnane, was making representations to the LNP state president, Bruce McIver, yesterday.
Advertisement: Story continues below Sources said Mr Loughnane was trying to defuse the situation on behalf of Mr Abbott.
Mr Slipper, who holds the Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher, is expected to be challenged and defeated by the former Howard government minister Mal Brough.
Mr Slipper is already somewhat of a pariah among his colleagues after he accepted the Deputy Speaker's job, which gave the Australian Labour Party numerical insurance in the hung parliament.
On Friday, he outraged colleagues by inviting the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, to his seat. The spectacle overshadowed a visit to nearby Nambour by the former prime minister John Howard.
The outrage prompted calls for the preselection ballot to be held before Christmas.
But one Queensland Liberal said a quick preselection could backfire on Mr Brough. He said about 1000 new members had joined branches in Mr Slipper's seat to support Mr Brough but they had to be members for 12 months before they could vote in a preselection. Most are ineligible and the source said Mr Slipper would benefit from a pre-Christmas preselection.
On Friday, Mr Howard called for the return of Mr Brough, who lost his seat in 2007, and criticised Mr Slipper for taking the Deputy Speaker position.