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Doesn't play well with others: LNP much better off with Newman off their team


He was a divisive and controversial figure when he ran this state – and it appears Campbell Newman won’t be changing his spots any time soon, writes Madonna King

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If Campbell Newman was swimming for Australia, he’d be trashing his countrymen, risking others drowning and then demand the medal dais to himself.

And his latest ‘contribution’ to politics and to his former party, might actually be a PB.

There is no doubt, like many athletes, he has enormous natural talent.

As Brisbane Lord Mayor from 2004 until 2011, he showed that. His performance – and support – grew as a result of him being able to get things done, communicate a message strongly, and cut down competitors in his way.

Using his strength as an engineer, he focused on the city’s infrastructure and won enormous kudos, even becoming – on one particular measure – the world’s fifth-best city leader.

But that was in the local pool. His unorthodox entry into State Parliament promised so much, and delivered so little.

Swept in on a surge of goodwill and hope for change, he was bundled out just over three years later on a bigger surge of anger.

At the heart of that extraordinary period in Queensland’s political history was not his government’s performance as much as how Campbell Newman led it, and the State.

Some people are best in individual events; others work best in a team. Others – like Kate Campbell and Emma McKeon – can do both.

But Campbell Newman doesn’t work, in any team. And his team in government lost, largely, because of his flawless ability to pick fights – with lawyers and police, with public servants and journalists, with those inside his party, and those outside his party. With anyone really.

Team sport is not his thing.

And so, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that his dummy spit would be timed as another member of the leadership alumnae – Lawrence Springborg – was being touted as the new captain of the LNP organisation.

It certainly was no surprise to many in the party, now led by David Crisafulli who spent years defending his former boss. Many wonder at how he’s been allowed to stay on the team this long, while constantly sniping from the sidelines.

That wouldn’t happen in any Olympic team.

But to launch an attack on the party that made him, as it gathers to reboot its performance, is vintage Newman.

In the short-term, the LNP might take a small hit. But in the longer term, this will clear the decks for the party to move forward, and challenge a government that needs a healthy dose of competition.

Campbell Newman could have resigned, and thanked the party for everything it had delivered for him. But his way dictated that he trash a few reputations on the way out.

If he decides to fight for a Senate seat, it might very well prove costly for the LNP and drown the prospects of Amanda Stoker; another former colleague who sat closer ideologically to Newman than most others.

Most of all, Newman doesn’t want anyone else on the dais.

A decade ago, that allowed him to take on a tired Labor government and win. It was the Newman Government, and he was out front and fighting. An individual event.

But his captaincy was short-lived. And when it came down to repeating the performance, he was missing those killer attributes you pick up in training.

In the pool, we’ve seen that this week. The focus on a turn, that propels a competitor from second place into first. Or conserving energy for the last 50 metres, and doing a Titmus finish. Or listening, closely, to the coach who has given up so much of their life to help someone else shine.

In politics, it’s teamwork. It’s listening to voters. And knowing that getting on with people is a fundamental prerequisite to making the final.

Campbell Newman showed this week why his performance was best suited to the local pool; not the Olympic one.


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