LNP's Michelle Landry to face party review after criticising Jane Prentice dumping | Australia news
A Queensland MP who spoke out against the dumping of Jane Prentice has been summoned to appear before the LNP’s candidate review committee in a move described by supporters as “politically stupid payback”.
Michelle Landry is one of a group of MPs, including Trevor Evans, Warren Entsch and reportedly, George Christensen, who have been called before the review committee. All four have contradicted party lines, three on social issues, and one against the leadership.
Landry, who has represented Capricornia since 2013, openly criticised the decision to dump Prentice, one of the only women in the Turnbull ministry, and replace her with a male candidate in the safe-Liberal seat of Ryan.
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Landry told the ABC she was “totally appalled” by the move and said she had been contacted by despairing young women members wanting to quit the party.
“We’ve hardly got any federal females in Queensland, in the government, and one has been pushed aside for a young male,” she said last week, as one of only a handful of government MPs to criticise the preselection coup.
Landry, who could not comment for this article because of party rules around preselections, has now been summoned to appear before the Liberal National party state secretary, Angela Awabdy, as part of a candidate review process, despite not facing a challenger of her own.
“What you are seeing is the far right of the party start to flex its muscles,” one LNP source said. “We are seeing this time and time again, all across the Liberal party.
“We are supposed to be a centre-right party but, anytime you have someone speak up on a social issue now, they are targeted. They’ll tell you this is usual, but it is usually done with a phone call. It is so short-sighted and it’s just going to make us look worse.”
The LNP president, Gary Spence, said the call-up was routine but added it was a separate process to the executive and he did not know why some members had been asked to appear.
“Candidates for preselection, including sitting members are routinely asked to meet with the ARC,” he said.
“It’s happened before every election that I can remember. ARC operates independently from the executive. I don’t know who’s been asked to come in for a meeting, or why.”
But others in the party pointed to what the group had in common.
“Look at who else they have called up, and what they’ve done. Of the four who have been mentioned, you would think only one has actually done something to warrant this.”
Warren Entsch, who also lashed out against Prentice’s defeat, calling it a “bloody disgrace”, as well as helping to lead the charge within the government to legislate marriage equality, has also been called to face the panel, along with Trevor Evans, who was also instrumental, behind the scenes, in pushing for the vote.
Entsch represented Leichardt between 1996 and 2007, before being re-elected in 2010. Evans won his first election in 2016.
Those three are expected to be joined by George Christensen, who has repeatedly threatened to leave the LNP, a move which would jeopardise the government, given it’s one-seat majority, as well as actively criticising the federal leadership.
Christensen told Guardian Australia he was “unsure” over whether he had been called before the committee, but said he had “been told no”.
Women make up just 20% of the Liberal party’s representation, while the Nationals can only claim 14%. Prentice was one of only three LNP federal representatives, despit the party holding 21 seats in Queensland. The state will be a key battleground at the next federal election, with both parties vying to win Queensland in order to win Canberra.
Labor, which has had quotas in place since 1994, is approaching gender parity.
Kelly O’Dwyer has launched a fundraising campaign to encourage more women into the party, through financial support for their campaigns in safe seats Malcolm Turnbull has said he will donate to the fund, but has ruled out quotas as not making sense within a “grassroots, democratic political organisation”.