Suspended Young LNP campaign director.

Ben Riley Photo: Twitter

Politicians are a lot like cats – they have nine lives and for the most part, land on their feet.

Just ask Ben Riley.

The 27-year-old Queenslander was elected, unopposed, as the federal Young Liberal president on Sunday, six months after he was suspended from the party for partaking in an “ill-advised dare” at the LNP state convention in July.

Mr Riley, considered by many to be a rising star for the Liberals, had taken a pair of oversized RM Williams boots, the brand favoured by country politicians Australia over, from a stand outside the convention, in what supporters said was a drunken prank. 

But not everyone was amused, leading to Mr Riley’s six month suspension from the party, a time he said, was spent in reflection and had taught him “a valuable lesson”.

“It is almost a feeling of redemption, almost,” he said from Fremantle, where the Federal Young Liberal annual convention was being held.

“One act doesn’t necessarily define a person and I, at a weaker moment, took on a dare when I probably shouldn’t have and I’ve suffered the consequences for it.

“But everyone makes mistakes and does the wrong thing from time to time, but I think the important thing is to learn from it.

“I guess I was just fortunate that the membership, who have known me for years, were able to see past it.”

A former Young LNP president, known for his - at times robust - Twitter exchanges with those on the opposite of the political spectrum, Mr Riley said his experience had left him more compassionate.

“It is never pleasant seeing your name in the paper, in a negative light, or if you are the subject of talkback radio or something like that, but I think it is part of the process,” he said.

It wasn’t wrong that I was held to account for it, it wasn’t wrong that I got written up in the media, that is democracy and that is politics.

“You learn from it, you develop character and your skin gets thicker.  Obviously it wasn’t pleasant, but you can’t change it and it is what it is.”

Mr Riley said his focus and that of the federal Young Liberals, was the upcoming state elections in Tasmania and South Australia and supporting the state branches.

“Helping with organisation and even just stuff like information sharing or training or skilling because people in Queensland might see what those are doing in South Australia and like what others are doing and adopt that, and vice versa,” he said.

“When I was state president I was in the middle of the state campaign in Queensland.  A lot of these guys will be going through a similar path that I went through then, so we’ll be offering plenty of advice and help and support in any way we can.”

As for Queensland’s LNP MPs, Mr Riley urged them to “remember what the party stands for”.

“That is ultimately what will be in the interests of Queenslanders, having smaller government, less regulation and getting government out of the way so they can live their own lives and in doing that the opportunities will come.”

But Mr Riley said he has no plans to shy away from engaging on social media.

“I might get into a bit more trouble for other things that I say,” he said.

“But I’ll certainly stay very active on Twitter.”