Abbott’s ‘shemozzle’ to blame for candidate shortage: ex-MP
A FORMER long-serving Coalition MP had blamed the dearth of candidates for pre-selection ahead of the 2013 federal election squarely at the feet of former Coalition leader Tony Abbott.
Retired LNP Member for Fairfax Alex Somlyay said he was disappointed that only four put their hands up for pre-selection in his former seat of Fairfax despite him announcing his retirement at the start of his last term in 2010. Nicola Roxon's retirement at the same time also only attracted three nominations for Labor pre-selection in a gem seat.
The seat was eventually won by billionaire Clive Palmer.
"I'm not questioning the quality of candidates who stood," Mr Somlyay said.
"But there was not the usual cast of thousands you get for safe seats. Usually good quality people go for safe seats. That didn't happen in 2013."
He lays blame for that disinterest squarely at the feet of the hung 2010-13 Parliament and the role then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott played in creating what he describes as a "shemozzle".
"Abbott made clear from the outset he would not cooperate with parliamentary democracy," Mr Somlyay said.
Would stronger competition among the LNP for Fairfax pre-selection have changed your 2013 vote?
This poll ended on 13 January 2016.
Yes. If members don't have faith in the party how can the public?
No. The problem went beyond the local LNP.
I would never vote LNP either way.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
He said by convention a Speaker's Panel comprising 10-15 parliamentarians nominated from both besides of politics serve to relieve the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
The process allows for absences and in a hung parliament would have maintained the status quo with numbers.
"Abbott would not allow a Coalition member on the panel," Mr Somlyay said.
"It was the first time in history this happened. Abbott was sending a clear message that he intended to make it as difficult as possible for the Parliament to operate.
"There was a three-year shemozzle.
"Abbott is the luckiest person in the world to become Prime Minister. It was not on merit. He was just the only alternative."
Mr Somlyay remains hopeful Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals leader and Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss's eventual retirement will attract a big field of quality candidates.
"Hopefully this time good people will come forward (in Wide Bay) and want to represent it,'' he said.
"The LNP needs to choose someone who could be ministerial potential. Hopefully factional inter-party differences can be put aside and they actually select the best candidate for the job."
Mr Truss is expected to retire from politics in the first half of this year opening the way for his deputy Barnaby Joyce to take over leadership of the National Party.
However the former Kingaroy Shire chairman who moved to Maryborough to pursue a career in federal politics may yet confound the pundits.
Mr Truss married late, has no children, and apart from politics his outside interests revolve around a passion for koala conservation he shares with his wife.