Interestingly, Dr Williams said there were fears within Coalition ranks that the decline in popularity of Liberal premiers would create headaches federally.
Interestingly, Dr Williams said there were fears within Coalition ranks that the decline in popularity of Liberal premiers would create headaches federally. Chris Ison

Internal division could kill LNP

THE greatest threat to Queensland Premier Campbell Newman's grip on power is likely to come from within his own party, according to Griffith University academic Dr Paul Williams.

He said internal ructions were not uncommon in governments with huge majorities.

"If the opposition doesn't come from without, the opposition will come from within," Dr Williams, an expert in Queensland politics, said.

But he was surprised at the amount of LNP dirty laundry being aired publicly, particularly so early in the life of the Newman government. He was referring to Mr Newman's public spats with billionaire Clive Palmer and the organisational wing of the LNP over fundraising.

"It is remarkable that the LNP is having public stoushes," Dr Williams said.

"Things that shouldn't be public are becoming very public very quickly."

He said Mr Newman was at risk of losing control of the party unless he took decisive action.

The fact Mr Newman was not a creature of George Street meant some of the old LNP guard still viewed him as an "interloper and an outsider".

Mr Newman famously stood down as Brisbane City Council mayor to assume the leadership of the parliamentary LNP from outside the parliament.

The experiment was greeted with scepticism from outside the party and hostility from some within. But the grumblings quickly dissipated when Mr Newman's opinion polls turned around.

Dr Williams said the authoritative nature of the March election win meant Mr Newman had effectively bypassed the need to stamp himself on the party.

But that was changing in a hurry, he said.

"As we're seeing now, because we've had a couple of adverse opinion polls, some nervous backbenchers, some cranky media, Newman will have to go back to stage one and assert that authority," Dr Williams said.

Interestingly, Dr Williams said there were fears within Coalition ranks that the decline in popularity of Liberal premiers would create headaches federally.

He said while the Opposition remained a firm favourite to win the next federal election, it was not going to be the cake walk some were predicting not that long ago.

"We're seeing a reverse thing now where the Abbott camp apparently is worried about what they're calling the Liberal premier effect," Dr Williams said.

"The popularity of (Ted) Baillieu, (Barry) O'Farrell and Newman has taken such a nose dive just in the space of a few months that they're really worried that the seats around the capital cities mightn't swing to the Liberals at the next election.

"(Some) Voters are terrified at seeing job cuts at state level, they don't want to see any more austerity at the federal level, and it's become a real problem for the federal Liberals.," he said.


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