By KATE BANVILLE
WITH a state election on the horizon, the LNP is at a crossroads and will use its Queensland Convention this weekend to help redefine its priorities.
More than 700 members, along with elected representatives of the Liberal National Party have travelled from across the state to Brisbane for three days of discussions, which started with State Council and Senate preselection yesterday.
A diverse collection of 129 open-session resolutions will be debated, filtering in from far-flung branches like Karumba and Mount Isa, where policy positions can be vastly different to those in South East Queensland.
LNP spokesperson for Northern Australia Susan McDonald (main picture) told the Caller she would be focused on advocating for rural and regional Queensland, where road infrastructure and access to an equal quality of health, education and internet were among a long list of issues for residents.
“I would like to think that when I get up to speak, I get a fair hearing but I am just a member when I turn up on Saturday and Sunday and there will be seven or 800 delegates,” McDonald said.
“I get no more say than anybody else but I would like to think that I’ve got some credibility and some runs on the board.”
When it comes to the LNP’s inclusion of women and appeal to female voters, McDonald acknowledged it was a challenge, stopping short of labelling it an LNP-only issue.
“Every group you can think of from the school P&C, Rotary show societies, and volunteer organisations is finding it harder to get people to give up their precious time to join the membership,” she said.
“So it is beholden on us, on me to specifically ask people to join that they understand there’s no secret handshake, there are no special requirements – all you’ve got to have is an interest in your community, and how it can be done better.
“And then of course, turn up because the world is run by people who turn up so for me it means for me making sure that I support new members as they come into the party.”
Despite McDonald’s optimism, the numbers speak for themselves.
Of the LNP’s 34 Queensland MPs, just six of them are women and while the party’s average member is a man in his 60s, the average Australian citizen is a 37-year-old woman.
“When you have a greater diversity of voices, and that’s not just women – it’s age, its business experience, it’s regional location,” McDonald said.
“Then you get better discussions, you get fully comprehensive policy outcomes, which is incredibly important for the nation.
“I’m very positive about what the future looks like.”
More than 250 state councillors voted to keep Senator McDonald and Senator Paul Scarr at the top of the LNP’s Senate ticket yesterday, but Senator Gerard Rennick was dumped from third spot, in favour of Brisbane businessman Stuart Fraser.
Today delegates will hear from Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who is expected to speak further on the heated debate about Queensland’s Path to Treaty legislation and the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, which will likely be fought behind closed doors.
Senator McDonald, who described the proposed constitutional change as ‘deeply divisive’ said it was appropriate the issue was debated in privacy, and away from the press.
“It is important that a political party does have the opportunity to have serious debates and discussions with just the members about these sorts of issues that aren’t in the public sphere,” McDonald said.
“It is also important that people get the ability to stand up without being reported in the press, these are not professional politicians – these are people who are representing their community and have travelled to Brisbane to debate these issues.
“I think that it is right and proper, that it be done in a place where they are safe and secure and able to have their voice and their view.”
If approved, the Voice vote would trigger a new section to be inserted into the Constitution enshrining ‘a voice’ to make representations to Parliament and the Executive Government (ministers and the public service) on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.