Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The unholy fight for Churchlands (part 2)

I wanted to write about something totally different today to prove that I'm more than just a one trick pony.

After all, I was in the room when Troy sniffed the chair, saw and heard all sorts of things that happened near the photocopier in the leader of the opposition’s office, saw a few good liberal women get destroyed, and was present when a number of very honourable people like Graham Jacobs were… well, let's just leave it at that.

But unfortunately, all that will have to wait because sadly I have to again write a post that relates to Peter Collier.

Just a side note: Paul Murray was quite correct in this amazing interview with the Minister – I am looking for work. If you are interested in some bold strategic advice, no-bull political commentary or even a guest writer or panel member who will entertain your audience with politically incorrect anecdotes and insights, I'm just a click away! (thank goodness we are getting those prostitution laws soon huh?) :-)

Anyhow, back to the glossy Peter Collier.

For those who asked me why I said the unholy battle for Churchlands would re-open old, very tender Liberal wounds.... Whulla! I give you this news article from the ABC yesterday.

That article doesn’t explain the whole background, but this Stateline transcript from 2005 certainly does.

After reading those articles, you might be inclined to think the allegations resurfaced because ALP Member Martin Whitely has a long memory.... nope! It was front of mind for him yesterday because the now-energy efficient halls of parliament (they auctioned the old power guzzler chandeliers off yesterday - presumably because the Speaker couldn’t afford his power bills like the rest of us) are abuzz with this old, very tender Liberal wound. We are of course talking about this because of the unholy fight for Churchlands.

After I published the unholy fight for Churchlands (part 1), I received an email from a very nice Liberal member who honestly couldn’t understand why I thought the pre-selection battle would get ugly. This person said they were at the State Council meeting and it was all very cordial and pleasant.
The emailer is of course correct but obviously isn’t much of a chess player. Chess, like any game of influence, requires a player to not only see the current state of play, but think about how all the pieces might look in the future.

The fun bit for those of us who are watching from the sidelines is that both Premier Barnett and Peter Collier are pretty good at this.

Here are some important facts to consider when thinking about what will happen next in this pre-selection.

1. Minister Collier holds the majority of the votes in the Curtin division – certainly enough to play a major role in deciding who will win a usual pre-selection process in Churchlands.

2. He supported his new Chief of Staff, and fairly well regarded Young Liberal Richard Wilson, who nominated in the usual way.

3. After pre-selctions closed, the Premier (and his senior media adviser Dixie Marshall) “suggested” to outspoken business-woman Kate Lamont that she put her hand up for a seat.

4. After learning of the Premier’s desire to install Ms Lamont, Collier clique member Senator Mathias Cormann moved a motion at State Council to re-open nominations to facilitate her nomination.

5. Ms Lamont nominated for Churchlands.

6. Peter Collier’s Chief of Staff withdrew his nomination.

7. From out of nowhere, long-serving Party member Jane Timmermanis took the opportunity to also nominate.

To piece all that together is pretty easy – while Peter Collier is definitely a chess player, he is constantly frustrated by others because his moves are just too transparent.

And here’s another relevant fact: generally, he doesn’t think much of women. I know, politically incorrect of me to put that in writing, but everyone knows it. There is so much evidence of misogynistic behaviour, it’s really just not debatable.

Note to the Collier clique: Be all offended and send me nasty emails by all means, but just think of who was behind the demise of recent sitting Liberal women and what is going on in his head when he says stuff like this:

Hon Sally Talbot: Have you  read the report?
Hon PETER COLLIER: Will you be quiet, woman!
Several members interjected.
[Hansard 19 May 2011]


Peter Collier thought he had a lock in supporting his new Chief of Staff Richard Wilson for the presumed safe seat. When it became clear the Premier (and probably the Honourable Liz Constable) wanted a woman in that seat, Peter Collier saw the writing on the wall for his preferred candidate. As quick as a flash, he burnt Richard Wilson (like he has so many others) and started the chess game.
It’s interesting to note that when Sue Walker was undermined and driven from her seat of Nedlands (led by… guess who), the Collier clique supported a nice chap named Bill Marmion – ahead of at least two other qualified women, one of whom was Jane Timmermanis.

Wow! What goes around really does come around in politics. I’m guessing with a little bit of rationalisation from the non-misogynistic Senator Cormann, Peter Collier was convinced that Ms Timmermanis was the best breasted candidate he could find to support in competition to the Premier’s ‘lock’.

So, I reckon the branch level initial vote will be interesting. If Peter Collier has the balls (which is questionable) and hasn’t burned too much political capital with all the insights we have been given as a result of a bit of media scrutiny this week, Jane Timmermanis should win pre-selection with his support.

But here’s where it gets really ugly.

Imagine for a moment you are Kate Lamont.

You’re a strong-willed, self-made, successful entrepreneur who relies heavily on support from wealthy and influential customers (i.e. her businesses need patronage to survive – nothing untoward there). Since working hard to gain that success, you’ve branched out and been politically active – but in a non-partisan way. You’ve picked up government advisory roles with both Labor and Liberal Governments and you’ve played a straight bat, gaining a fair bit of respect for telling it how it is. Importantly, you’ve managed to influence without having to be painted into any corner of the political spectrum and therefore risk losing the support of half of WA’s business community i.e. her target market.

Then one day the Premier and a straight talking, somewhat charming media personality drop in to your restaurant and suggest that you stand for Parliament.

Would you agree to pin a flag to your mast if the offer wasn’t a “guaranteed” seat in Parliament? And would you agree to piss off half your target market unless that offer came with a promise of something more than a $140,000 a year backbench position that doesn’t allow you to even speak in public, let alone influence Cabinet…

Na, either would I. I’m certain the Premier wouldn’t have promised anything like this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Ms Lamont was left to believe it.

So, if Peter Collier delivers on his alleged powerbroking potential and gets Jane Timmermanis nominated, Kate Lamont will be very, very grumpy that she’s sacrificed so much for so little. And she isn’t shy about expressing her opinion when she’s angry. Nor is Liz Constable, who will no doubt do all she can to ensure any candidate supported by Peter Collier isn’t her replacement.


The only way out of this scenario would be for State Council to over turn Ms Timmermanis’ pre-selection and by then, the Premier will have many, many more reasons to let Peter Collier suffer the consequences of being a powerless powerbroker with a lot of self-made enemies.

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