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No sign of a spill but destabilisation campaign against Deb Frecklington continues

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There’s no sign yet of a party-room spill, or even a canvassing of votes, but this bizarre civil war within the LNP against Deb Frecklington is still being played out, writes Peter McCutcheon.

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“It’s just madness,” one LNP frontbencher told the ABC. “The party room can’t believe it.”

What the MP was referring to was a campaign of destabilisation against Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, which included the leaking of an unflattering internal party poll to The Courier-Mail on Saturday.

Frecklington told the media yesterday she “will not be bullied by the backroom boys”, while her deputy Tim Mander said “she has the support of the parliamentary wing”.

But another MP observed it may not be so clear cut.

“If you asked me 10 days ago, I would have said there’s no chance of a leadership change, but as backbenchers look at their margins they may think, what’s my best chance?”

A Frecklington supporter has pointed the finger at LNP president Dave Hutchinson as the source of the destabilisation.

Hutchinson has declined to comment, although an LNP spokesman told the ABC, “the party’s sole focus is on maximising its chances in October”.

‘It’s puzzling’

One party source admitted there had been discontent with the Opposition Leader “at the grassroots level”.

“Unusually, this is not being driven by anyone’s ego or ambition, but rather by what party members are telling us,” he said.

“Donors are saying they don’t want to give money to a failing campaign and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

But what may have begun as a party effort to “fire up” the Opposition Leader to take on a more aggressive approach to campaigning is quickly degenerating into a public slanging match.

“It is clumsy,” the party source admitted.

An MP who is familiar with internal polling said the figures were manipulated in order the make the Opposition Leader look bad.

“The internal poll was of 1300 people in 26 seats — that’s 50 per electorate,” he said.

“Local candidates have done their own polls, which are far more accurate, and they come up with a more positive result for Deb.

“It’s puzzling why they’d try to blast her out with no known challenger.”

One name that is often mentioned as a potential challenger is Gold Coast MP David Crisafulli.

He repeatedly refused to rule out a leadership challenge in a Channel Nine TV news report on Saturday and has since issued a tweet praising his leader.

“On the day media talk about polling, Deb Frecklington reveals her vision for water infrastructure,” he said.

The ABC has contacted Crisafulli. He declined to comment any further.

– ABC / state political correspondent Peter McCutcheon

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