If the Coalition needs quality candidates, why isn’t Stephen Barber one of them?
In March, the Liberal National Party turned its back on a 53-year-old conservative, with an extremely impressive CV and a detailed agenda for office, who sought preselection for the Queensland marginal federal seat of Longman.
Stephen Barber, from a pioneering Sunshine coast family, recently returned to Australia after a 12-year stint in business overseas. He initially passed the LNP’s preselection review and started his campaign by sending out a letter to local members.
A source told Australian Conservative that Barber was then “unapproved” at the discretion of the LNP head office.
“He began the process but he did not complete the process,” LNP spokesman Cameron Thompson told Australian Conservative.
“Stephen Barber was a candidate at the beginning of the process and he was not a candidate at the time of the preselection itself.
“As to what occurred in the middle period there, I would say we have no comment,” Mr Thompson said.
Stephen Barber told Australian Conservative that he would not discuss internal party matters and that, at present, he was undecided about making an attempt to gain preselection for any other seat.
In a three-way contest that did not include Barber, 19-year-old Wyatt Roy won preselection for Longman.
Commenting on the choice of Wyatt Roy, on 29 March the Australian Catholic University’s Professor of Public Policy Scott Prasser told ABC’s World Today:
“I think it’s fantastic that young people are interested in politics and this person is obviously very committed and interested in politics. But I think what it to me indicates, here we have one of the most marginal seats in the country, which is potentially winnable at the next federal election. What it indicates to me is that the LNP have got very poor recruitment processes.
“Now I think this is an opportunity for the LNP to recruit people of experience, so they can go in to parliament to play the bigger game of spearheading attacks on the Government and developing policy. And I think a 19 year old does not have that experience, and I think that is sending a wrong signal to the electorate.”
Last week, former Liberal Party member John Pasquarelli made the point that the Liberal Party needs better candidates.
Wyatt Roy may be enthusiastic and committed. According to local member Fiona Brydon, who spoke to Australian Conservative, Roy is enjoying strong local support and is warmly received throughout the electorate.
But despite all that, Wyatt Roy does not possess the life experience, qualifications, and all-round credentials of Stephen Barber. So what happened?
Australian Conservative has obtained a copy of the candidacy letter that Barber sent out to LNP branch members. Have a read. Can you see anything in it (hint: our emphasis has been added) that might have provoked the belated intervention of the LNP’s head office?
• Defeating the pro-global warming lobby and Rudd’s proposed ETS as an unnecessary tax that will cripple Australian business and destroy jobs and our economic competitiveness.
• Fighting against the growth of big government and the ill-advised return to big spending, deficit-financed, Keynesian economics in the face of the global financial crisis (which is far from over) and emphasising the importance of reducing government debt levels and cutting taxes, so as to reduce upward pressure on interest rates and to create solid long term jobs growth.
• Eliminating the use of the tax system to provide politically-driven incentives, which merely distort normal business investment decisions and create a misallocation of capital to the wrong areas and encourage “rorting of the system” (eg., as evidenced by the current “home insulation scandal” and the associated massive budget blowout).
• The dangers of the Australian economy becoming too closely dominated by China, which exposes us to great downside in the event of the next cyclical global commodities downturn (which will come as part of the next leg of the global financial crisis).
• Encouraging the re-establishment of domestic manufacturing industries to counter the undesirable trend towards Australia becoming a “one-trick pony” resource exporting economy dependent on the ups and downs of the global commodity cycles.
• The need for Australia to avoid the demographic problems that Europe is beginning to experience as a result of Islamic immigration.
• Resuscitating the Coalition Government’s earlier policy of the Quadrilateral Alliance between Australia, USA, Japan and India, (which will help reduce our dependence on China).
• Bolstering the country and regional areas of Australia (which have always been, and continue to be, vital to the nation’s prosperity); and
• Emphasising the importance of returning to old-fashioned values, especially ethics, respect, and politeness (which have been continually eroded by the “40 year social experiment” conducted under our noses on us by the TV, film and music industries), which has produced an education system which fails both the young and our society by graduating students who can’t spell, do basic maths, or understand history and our place in it, who value rude and violent behaviour and who take drugs and knives to school (as evidenced by recent events this past week in our Queensland schools regarding children carrying knives to school).