An ideological warrior who rails against a “morbid, Green, anti-Western” school curriculum. A business advocate who claims to have influenced Tony Abbott's anti-carbon-tax campaign. A political strategist who argues Julia Gillard wants to take Australia down the “path of Europe”.
The 16 candidates jockeying for prime positions on the Liberal National Party's Queensland senate ticket are busily spruiking their conservative credentials to state council members who will decide their fate this weekend.
LNP comes clean on lobbyist registers
The diaries and lobbyist registers of LNP cabinet members will be made public every month from next year to make sure they are "up to date".
A bundle of documents that has found its way to Fairfax Media provides an insight into the race for the coveted top three spots on the LNP senate ticket.
Long-serving north Queensland-based senator Ian Macdonald is standing again and is expected to retain the number-one position on the LNP ticket.
But the departure of senators Sue Boyce and Ron Boswell clears the way for others to fill the void. The top three spots are considered winnable at the federal election due next year.
In contention for senate pre-selection include former Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland chief David Goodwin, long-time conservative campaigner James McGrath, LNP vice-president Gary Spence and barrister Amanda Stoker.
Mr Goodwin has the backing of Senator Boswell, who says the business advocate is a dynamic and media-savvy campaigner whose name is well recognised and who has “often led from the front” in opposing carbon pricing.
In a letter to LNP state council members, Senator Boswell says: “I will be at the pre-selection to cast my vote for David [Goodwin] for the number-two position.”
Mr Goodwin, an accountant and father of seven, says the day he was appointed to the board of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2009, he “personally commissioned nation-wide Galaxy polling showing for the first time that it was possible to win an election opposing an ETS [emissions trading scheme], which at that time was contrary to the accepted wisdom of the day”.
In his glossy flyer distributed to state council members, Mr Goodwin also says his appointment to the chair of the ACCI's environment committee allowed him “to make this largest business lobby group the strongest voice against the ETS, RSPT [Resource Super Profits Tax], MRRT [Minerals Resource Rent Tax], carbon tax and a myriad of other federal policies impacting on business”.
The flyer includes quotes from Mr Abbott soon after he rolled emissions trading scheme backer Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal leader in 2009. Mr Goodwin is credited with helping to ignite a “people's revolt”.
“I'm delighted to have been able to follow the Queensland Chamber of Commerce in opposing Mr [Kevin] Rudd's great big new tax on everything and, David, but for your leadership it might not have happened,” Mr Abbott is quoted as saying.
Another candidate who is no stranger to a political fight is Mr McGrath, who was the LNP's campaign director when Campbell Newman's team stormed to government in Queensland in March and helped the Country Liberals win the Northern Territory election.
Mr McGrath, whose work for the British Conservatives attracted controversy, says he will spend every waking moment working for Queensland and Queenslanders and standing up to “vested 'left wing' interests”.
In his promotional material, Mr McGrath says the election of Robert Menzies and Arthur Fadden in 1949 “ensured that Labor's plans for socialism and nationalisation were rejected” and heralded Australia's greatest era of prosperity until the rise of Gough Whitlam.
“This next election is a similar turning point for our country,” says Mr McGrath, who describes himself as fresh but experienced.
“Julia Gillard is proposing Australia take the path of Europe – regulation and red tape; a union-dominated government; crippling carbon and green taxes; and increased debt and deficits.”
This represents Mr McGrath's second attempt to enter federal politics at next year's election.
He was beaten by former Howard government minister Mal Brough for pre-selection for the Sunshine Coast lower house seat of Fisher, currently held by controversial former Speaker Peter Slipper.
Mr Spence, meanwhile, is considered a good chance of clinching the number-three senate position, which would see him sit in the Nationals party room in Canberra despite being a former Liberal.
“I am LNP all the way,” the Queensland LNP vice-president says.
He tells LNP state council members he wants to speak up for rural and regional communities.
Mr Spence says he understands the need for social compassion and the value of hard work, arguing he is “a real person” and believes in family values as his core foundation.
Another strong contender for the Nationals spot, Matthew Canavan, who has served as Senator Barnaby Joyce's chief of staff, tells LNP state council members he believes in promoting economic growth, opposing “excessive environmental activism”, and “valuing the family unit as a valued cultural legacy not to be tinkered with”.
The former Productivity Commission director has attracted endorsements from Senator Joyce, Shadow Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann, and Nationals Deputy Senate Leader Fiona Nash.
Liberal contender Ms Stoker has worked as a barrister, a Commonwealth prosecutor, a High Court and Supreme Court judge's associate and a solicitor.
“I've helped to lead the public debate in support of school chaplaincy, argued against bills of rights, and defended our national flag, constitutional system, and the right to protect our country's borders,” she says in a letter to LNP state council members.
“In my work as a barrister and public prosecutor I've held child sex offenders, drug and weapon importers and fraudsters to account for their harm to the community.”
In her promotional flyer, former High Court justice Ian Callinan describes Ms Stoker as “quick, intelligent, resourceful, learned, pleasant and willing” with a deep interest in policy issues and people's day-to-day concerns.
The first-term state MP for Brisbane Central, Rob Cavallucci, says in the flyer that Ms Stoker “would make a commanding contribution to the Senate team and is a formidable advocate for LNP values”.
Ms Stoker says she believes in “family, faith and freedom” and is driven by advocacy for fairness and opportunity. She adds it can be tough to grow a business “with a government that panders to big unions and stands in the way of job creators”.
Small business owner and “proven scientific expert” Theresa Craig, who has owned and operated a research and consulting firm, tells LNP state council members she is multilingual and has ties across the agriculture business sector, academia and governments.
She vows to be a champion for regional Queensland.
Several candidates use their internal promotional material to argue the country's values are under threat.
Toowoomba doctor David van Gend, who is running for the Nationals slot, says he has contributed to public debate and spoken about “the harms of gay marriage” and “the social corruption of euthanasia” among other social issues.
“With years of practice handling media and ideological opponents I can be relied on to argue effectively for any of the Coalition's policies, social or economic, and get the message across,” he says.
Dr van Gend tells LNP state council members: “We are no longer rich enough to indulge the Left's gesture politics: stupid green schemes, an economically self-mutilating and scientifically superstitious carbon dioxide tax.”
He talks of the need to “reverse the Nanny State”, accuses the Left of seeking to trash freedom, and touts “the unparalleled power of the Christian faith to inspire individuals and bind communities for the common good”.
Dr van Gend bemoans apathy among young people, saying: “These young people are the product of a morbid, Green, anti-Western curriculum and the prevailing atmosphere of cultural shame.”
At the LNP state convention in July, Dr van Gend railed against the new national curriculum, likening it a “campaign document of the Left” and argued there was little reason for the LNP to be running the economy “if the ALP is still running the minds of our children”.
Dr van Gend lists numerous endorsements, including from former Australian Medical Association president John Herron, former deputy prime minister John Anderson, The Australian columnist Angela Shanahan, and a climate sceptic, James Cook University professor Bob Carter.
Mr Goodwin, formerly of the National party, also promotes the values issue.
He tells LNP members four generations of men in his family had gone to war to fight for their country and now he believed it was his turn “in a different kind of struggle”.
“I believe that the traditions and values that have made Western civilisation great are under attack,” he says, arguing the country was heading in the wrong direction and freedoms were under threat.
Other candidates vying for a spot on the Senate ticket are banking and finance officer Rae Frawley, management consultant Wayne Black, consultant and company director Julie Boyd, small business owner and management specialist Marion Feros, real estate agent William Hackett, regional organisation chief Kerry Latter, GP Thomas McEniery, and Moreton Bay Regional councillor Adrian Raedel.
Candidates are not allowed to speak to the media ahead of the pre-selection, which will take place at the RNA showgrounds on Saturday.
The LNP says its state council comprises about 400 party members and includes the state executive, LNP MPs, senators and councillors, life members, representatives from the Young LNP and LNP Women, and the chairs of the party's federal divisional councils, state electorate councils and policy committees.
Labor has already pre-selected its top-three Senate candidates for Queensland. Retiring senator John Hogg's spot on the Labor ticket will be occupied by union leader Chris Ketter, who is secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association Queensland branch.
Labor senators Claire Moore and Mark Furner have been endorsed to stand again.