Is Frecklington about to do a Springborg?

OPINION

THE 2006 Queensland election will long be remembered as one of the greatest political flops in this state's history.

Then premier Peter Beattie's third term was beset with problems as failures in core areas, like health and water, caught up with the administration.

Voters were fed up with Beattie's "sorry, we'll fix it" routine.

For 12 months the polls had the Coalition on level pegging with Labor after it barely dented Beattie's massive majority in 2004.

But it all began to fall apart for the Lawrence Springborg-led opposition six months before the election, as the Nationals and Liberals were beset by internal problems.

The rot was laid bare when the Liberals changed leader just weeks before the poll, and member for Moggill Bruce Flegg's epic campaign cockups that followed have become the stuff of legend.

It was all over at the first press conference, when veteran Channel 9 political reporter Spencer Jolly asked Flegg who would be premier if the Coalition won and the Liberals had more seats.

While there will only ever be one Bruce Flegg, there are shades of 2006 in the current problems that have beset the LNP.

 

Deb Frecklington hopes not to meet a similar electoral fate to Lawrence Springborg.
Deb Frecklington hopes not to meet a similar electoral fate to Lawrence Springborg.

 

A councillor disendorsed and facing an independent investigation, an MP quitting early and lambasting the party for bullying, and the LNP president caught out moonlight on Clive Palmer's payroll.

In isolation, none of these issues is a barbecue-stopper that could turn voters off the LNP.

But having them occur one after the other gives the impression that the party is, once again, plagued by internal problems.

Leader Deb Frecklington was right this week when she warned that infighting over Member for Currumbin Jann Stuckey's replacement could hurt her electoral prospects.

"I can tell you right now, as you walk down the street here in Currumbin, people are more concerned about their local issues, and that's what we should be focused on," she said.

Yet Springborg tried in vain to issue similar warnings to warring elements in the Coalition.

It didn't work.

The 2006 election became a referendum not about whether Beattie had done a good job, but whether the Coalition could possibly do any better.

There's a risk history could repeat for Frecklington.

Given the LNP's past, maybe it's too soon to say there'll only ever be one Bruce Flegg.