Queensland’s health minister says the decision by grassroots party members to dump MP Peter Dowling demonstrates a democratic preselection process.
Queensland’s health minister says the dumping of an MP who was caught up in a sexting scandal demonstrates democracy in action at the Liberal National Party.
Redlands MP Peter Dowling is unable to recontest his southeast Queensland seat at the next state election after local LNP members voted to disendorse him on Saturday.
Mr Dowling made international headlines after photos and text messages he sent to his mistress were leaked, including a photo of his penis resting in a glass of red wine.
The LNP executive had recently endorsed Mr Dowling but branch members had the final say on Saturday.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg commended the MP for the “magnanimous” way he accepted the grassroots members’ decision.
“With the LNP, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, the membership have the primacy of say and that’s what we saw in Redlands,” Mr Springborg told reporters on Sunday.
“I’m very very pleased that Peter has accepted that verdict in a very generous way.”
Moggill MP Bruce Flegg was disendorsed by the LNP executive but was given a second chance by local party members who voted to reject an alternative candidate last week.
Former arts minister and Member for Mudgeeraba Ros Bates was endorsed by both the executive and local members.
Mr Springborg said the recent preselection results were about “ultimate democracy” in contrast to Labor’s preselection process where “faceless union bosses” decided which candidates would run.
He rejected suggestions of disunity in the LNP.
“There will always be strident views that are actually held and there should be,” he said.
The LNP has reopened nominations for the Redlands seat.
Their chosen candidate will run against Labor’s Deb Kellie who launched her campaign on Sunday.
Queensland Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Dowling’s dumping on Saturday showed disunity within the LNP.
Speaking at Deb Kellie’s campaign launch on Sunday, Ms Palaszczuk said Premier Campbell Newman had stood by Mr Dowling for two years.
“What yesterday’s event shows very clearly is that the LNP is divided,” she told reporters.
“There is disunity. There is disloyalty.”
Ms Palaszczuk conceded it would be “a tough fight” for Labor to achieve the more than 20 per cent swing needed to win Redlands, but added that “anything is possible in Queensland”.
“The people of Redland deserve so much better,” she said.
“They deserve someone who’s hardworking, someone who has integrity and someone who is compassionate and I know that Deb is that person.”