Get InQueensland in your inbox Subscribe

Enemy within: Why this man scares Scott Morrison more than anyone else in politics


He’s been touted as a future Queensland Premier but Senator Matt Canavan is more intent on stirring things up in Canberra – with his Coalition partners first in his sights, writes Madonna King

Print article

Scott Morrison has an almighty problem, and his name is Senator Matthew Canavan.

The Queensland Senator has his office smack bang in the heart of Rockhampton; the first time a Senate office has been set up in the middle of beef country.

That makes a strong point by itself. Canavan maintains he’s for the regions. For the workers. He knows how tough many of our towns are doing it at the moment, he says, and he’s working for them.

“More jobs, more dams, more manufacturing,’’ is the headline of his twitter handle @mattjcan.

“To reach the Liberals’ net zero plan, the UN says we can only eat 14g of meat a day. Don’t eat it all at once,’’ he warns.

Senator Canavan is educated, articulate and as mad as hell. And that wrath is being directed at his own party – the Nationals – and its senior Coalition partner, the Liberals.

And that could lose Queensland for Scott Morrison come the next election, a dozen times over.

Remember environmentalist Bob Brown’s crusade through Queensland to stop Adani at the last election?

As the out-of-towner’s anti-Adani convoy rolled through the State telling voters to shun coal, southerners claimed it would be a boost to Bill Shorten’s campaign.

Queenslanders, particularly outside the state’s south-east, saw it very differently. Locally, it was seen as assault on regional jobs – and Bob Brown and his merry crew were ignored, refused service, and sent packing.

Labor leader Bill Shorten also felt the fury of voters, in the wake of Bob Blow-In Brown, and they left their legacy at the voting poll – gifting the Coalition a victory.

While some claim the anti-Adani convoy helped Labor win votes in the city, what’s clear is that some LNP MPs recorded swings of up to 15 percent; and that was on the back of Brown’s campaign which lacked local knowledge, an understanding of how things are done in rural Queensland, and the significance of jobs as a pivotal poll issue.

Senator Canavan hasn’t forgotten the votes given to his Party a the last poll, and is furious that his party’s decision to partner with the Liberals in their net-zero emissions promise runs counter to that support.

His own colleagues were being seduced by “the siren song of cheap, green politics’’, he says, in what is a bad deal for Australian workers, but he was “not for sale’’ and would continue to fight for jobs.

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

Forget the fact that his leader Barnaby Joyce doesn’t really like the plan he’s signed his own party up to. Or whether he has the discipline to stick to his current line.

Forget the fact that the Nationals are now lobbing verbal and social media grenades at each other, fuelling the bitter divisions the party can ill-afford.

Forget how this might even gift oxygen to the campaigns of Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson, along with Labor.

The deal’s been done. The Nationals scored an extra Cabinet spot. But at what cost?

We’ll find that out during the campaign.

But picture this. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in jeans and RM Williams boots, stomping through Queensland seats that delivered him government last time.

He’ll be thanking voters and telling them how clever he has been to forge a deal between the two Conservative parties, before jetting off to Scotland for the climate-fest.

And a member of his own Coalition – who has a first class honours degree in economics, worked at the Productivity Commission and served as chief of staff to Barnaby Joyce – will be just one step behind.

And the message Matt Canavan is promising to deliver will mirror the one that locals used to send Bob Brown and Bill Shorten packing.

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

This week might have been a small political win for Scott Morrison, as he heads off to Glasgow.

But it will almost definitely prove very costly for the Coalition on home soil, once the bell rings, and the election campaign begins.

More Politics stories

Loading next article