LNP president Gary Spence at the state council in Bundaberg. Picture: Paul Beutel
LNP president Gary Spence at the state council in Bundaberg. Picture: Paul Beutel

Minister left hanging after LNP conference

SENIOR federal minister David Littleproud is the sole sitting Queensland MP yet to be formally re-endorsed by the Liberal National Party ahead of the looming federal election.

The Member for Maranoa's name was missing from the list of MPs endorsed to recontest their seats by the LNP state council meeting in Bundaberg, sparking speculation among some that the party was holding his nomination back over bad blood relating to the rolling of Senator Barry O'Sullivan.

Senior party sources, however, insisted it was a procedural issue that would soon be resolved.

It came amid an extraordinary brawl over the political future of three state Liberal National MPs - former Opposition leader and treasurer Tim Nicholls, LNP frontbencher Steve Minnikin, and former Newman government minister Jann Stuckey - after their decision to use their conscience vote to back the decriminalisation of abortion.

LNP president Gary Spence delivered an excoriating rebuke to the trio, in which he said he believed a future state council should "hold them accountable" should their local branches back any bid for them to run again at the 2020 Queensland election.

Mr Spence also told the meeting he believed MPs should not be able to hide behind a conscience vote to defy the party on core values.

LNP president Gary Spence and parliamentary party leader Deb Frecklington at the state council in Bundaberg yesterday. Picture: Paul Beutel
LNP president Gary Spence and parliamentary party leader Deb Frecklington at the state council in Bundaberg yesterday. Picture: Paul Beutel

"They (the three MPs) demonstrated that they were not in synch with the values and standards of the party, and they ought not be seen as representative of this party," he said.

"It falls back to our grassroots members to ensure they preselect candidates that accord with the party's values and standards, and if they don't, then the party unit and state council should hold them accountable when they next seek endorsement."

The speech blindsided not only the three MPs but also many of their parliamentary colleagues, who had descended en masse to the meeting in a bid to support them should a showdown over the vote occur.

"The LNP state president has clearly fired a direct shot across the bow of the parliamentary team with a clear message," one senior party source told The Sunday Mail.

Mr Nicholls said yesterday he was comfortable with how he had voted on the abortion Bill.

"I have faith in my state councillors. I have faith in my branch members. I continue to look forward to representing them in the best way I can," he said.

"I know that there are people who won't have liked the way I voted. And I understand that.

"And I understand other people have a different position, and I respect that."

David Littleproud is conspicuous in his absence from LNP endorsements.
David Littleproud is conspicuous in his absence from LNP endorsements.