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Look who's back: Newman quits LNP, eyes return to 'position of influence'

Politics

Campbell Newman, the Liberal Lord Mayor turned one-term conservative premier, has quit the Liberal National Party for a right-wing Senate run

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Newman had complained of being on the outer with the LNP, the party he led to power and humiliation in little over three years, but was brought back as a trustee in May. It was seen as an effort to keep the new political commentator in the tent.

However, some remained critical of Newman, and the weekend departure of his main backer, president Cynthia Hardy, brought the issue to a head, even as leader David Crisafulli was calling for more unity.

Newman did not attend the LNP state convention where former LNP leader Lawrence Springborg was elected president. Instead, he sent tweets criticising the campaign for the Stretton by-election – candidate Jim Bellos was “let down by a party and leadership that never stands for anything” – that were then used by Labor to undermine Crisafulli.

Newman, along with other LNP figures including George Christensen and Gerard Rennick, also appeared to side with anti-lockdown protesters. After Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered the military to help with the Sydney lockdown, Newman suggested the nation should be better known as the “Totalitarian States of Australia”.

In his resignation letter, Newman said the “destruction of people’s livelihoods and freedoms” throughout the pandemic response, and subsequent LNP subservience, had ultimately pushed him out.

“Whilst I have unwavering admiration for the passion, commitment and dedication of the rank and file members of the party I am dismayed that the political wing fail to represent and indeed stand up for our values,” Newman wrote.

News of Newman’s decision to quit the LNP was revealed by his Sky News colleague Chris Kenny, who reported in The Australian that Newman had already held informal discussions with One Nation, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, and the Liberal Democrats in the hope of a Senate tilt.

Newman was seen to be more aligned with the Liberal Democrats, having publicly supported its NSW flag-waver John Ruddick over the Sydney lockdown protests, however the party has never won a seat in Queensland.

Newman, 57, is not believed to have a strong level of lingering personal support in the electorate but is one of several political players seeking to represent those who feel disenfranchised by the COVID-19 response.

His personal website still presents as that of “chairman, political commentator, former politician”.

The Stretton by-election followed the death of Labor incumbent Duncan Pegg. While Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was overseas on Olympic duties – she is now in hotel quarantine – Labor still retained the seat with new candidate James Martin.

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