In what must be a lesson to me to check my email more frequently, a Lady Blue Rinse Wilson, who describes themself as “a long-time Liberal lady who is concerned with the current state of affairs in the ACT Liberal Party”, has offered the following “insight into the MLA’s and perhaps how things may end up, given that the team is not functioning to desired capacity”.
Speculation as to the real identity of my new correspondant is highly encouraged in the comments below.
Stefaniak office – Bill would have been flattered (but not likely moved to act) by any suggestions of leadership landing in his lap in the near future. He has some lovely ladies in his employ, both with several years experience in politics. Trouble is that he most likely knows if the Liberals lose the next election, and if he was the Leader, he’d be dropped for a ‘new look team’ and would lose a fair portion of his salary by returning to the standard backbencher wage. In terms of positioning, he’s best placed right where he is.
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Selseja office – This fine young man may be able to make a career in ACT politics if he would only place some distance between himself and the Mr Mulcahy/Mrs Dunne organisation and focus entirely on the job at hand (holding the government to account instead of associating with MLA’s who will just use him). He needs a well-rounded ‘minder’ type adviser with some solid experience to get him back on track and mould him to the job. I suspect if he settles down he will end up in the leadership group at some point. He is good on his feet in Parliament and seems prepared to watch and learn from the sentiments/mood of the electorate.
Pratt office – Well, Mr Pratt has been rubbed up the wrong way by Mr Mulcahy and Mrs Dunne to the point he is never likely to support them in any leadership challenge. This may not be news, but the point is that he is one of the pivotal supporters needed if there is any move to change. He has what appears to be dedicated staff, but they tend to get bogged down in too much detail and should get back to producing clean and crisp messages (as they relate to his portfolio areas) without too much influence from other MLA’s.
Dunne office – Where do you begin…it seems that she has been sidelined in an attempt partly to crush the advances of Richard ‘vlad the impaler’ Mulcahy, but there is no doubt there is more to the disciplinary action of taking away her portfolio responsibilities than meets the eye.
This office will no doubt now concentrate on mailing out letters to her constituency, in a desperate effort to please her masters, spending a vast amount of time (and money) on collecting information on all sorts of issues. It seems the Young Libs have infiltrated – this MLA will come undone if she continues to absorb ill-informed decisions due to a lack of experience from the younger folk. The problem for the Liberal party is that this MLA will continue to disrupt and work to unsettle the Opposition Leadership in the hope she will be rewarded – the trouble for Mrs Dunne is that a change of leadership (whether it is needed or not) will not see any reward.
Mulcahy office – Very determined man is ‘Vlad the impaler’. He will not stop until he achieves his objectives. He’s stacked out a number of positions within the Party structure to ensure the support is there and like his ‘apparent’ partner Mrs Dunne, will continue to show no form of support to Mr Smyth.
The trouble is that, by the numbers, it is not possible for him to become the leader of the parliamentary party under the current situation. He has managed to do the impossible – if you want support from other MLA, why put them off side! Mr Pratt and Mrs Burke (another pivotal vote) will not support him in any leadership team, nor is it likely they would vote Mrs Dunne into any position. However, the plotting and scheming will no doubt continue to the detriment of the Party. Hopefully, the Party management and the membership may become savvy to this and display some form of disatisfaction.
Burke office – I feel her staff have a hard time keeping up with her most of the time, as a lot of ‘ideas’ tend to flow from Mrs Burke. Her heart is in the right place and as another of the pivot voters, it maybe that she is placed in the most difficult position. Sooner or later, if the leadership is still an enduring pressure and maintains possible electoral damage, her allegiance may have to shift. Simply by a process of elimination and the need to break a deadlock, this could likely see her voting for Mr Stefaniak as leader with a new deputy, perhaps a clean skin in order to appease and promote ‘generational’ change.
Smyth office – this office has most likely batoned down its hatches. Mr Smyth has worked hard and endured a number of hits over the years, yet he has come through to lead the current team quite well – until after the last election.
The new MLA’s have different expectations/viewpoints and obviously believe they could do a better job. The trouble is that they have just arrived and don’t possess enough experience yet, nor have they been tested enough in the electorate. This is to Mr Smyth’s advantage (and Mr Stefaniak), given both have worked to the point where they get re-elected in their own right,
without reliance on preference votes.
If the leadership team has to change, an element of appeasement will have to occur. Trouble is, at the moment, not one voting block will see Mr Mulcahy obtain leadership. Solution to this maybe to Mr Stefaniak’s delight (and then detriment) see him voted in as leader and send in Mr Seselja as the deputy to satisfy the Mulcahy and Dunne ‘houses’. This model would only be in place up until after the election and would need re-assessment, regardless of the outcome. The unknown factor is that the Dunne house is determined to see a complete meltdown of both ‘apparent factions’ in the hope she will be able to part the red sea….
It is of course best for any Party bleeding like this to sometimes battle on, appearing to limp into the next election with an existing team. Depending on the outcome, they would watch to see how each MLA performs in the electorate, and decide afterwards as to how deserving any Members are of leadership positions.
In the world of politics, no leadership team deserves to fall without sufficient evidence for such an action to occur. The Libs may well not win the next election based on a myriad of reasons.
Mr Stanhope will need to do something monumentally ridiculous to lose. There is a chance of a coup de main from Mr Mulcahy, but to do so, may end up placing him in the position he would favour the least – a coup de grace from his colleagues and probably a sense of disappointment from the membership who thought it the best option to back him.