Flat White

Campbell Newman: can Can Do do it?

26 July 2021

5:04 PM

26 July 2021

5:04 PM

Let’s open with a trivia question: which Royal Military College Duntroon colleague did Campbell Newman act as best man to? The answer, of course, is Andrew Wilkie, the federal member for the Tasmanian seat of Clark.

I raise Wilkie because after a false start in 2004, he’s been a parliamentarian since 2010 while Newman, well…

All science fiction fans know the line from Blade Runner: “The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long.” After two terms as a well-regarded and competent Brisbane lord mayor Campbell Newman didn’t as much burn during his one term as a member of the Queensland parliament — and premier — but turn supernova.

Now he wants to get back into politics, but as a senator. Good luck to him.

Can Do — as he styled himself as mayor — might, but he has a hell of a lot of baggage weighing him down.

Newman is on the nose with both sides of politics.

He’s still the bogeyman Labor points to when they want to frighten Queenslanders of all political persuasions (Queensland is the state that had government-run butchers shops and pubs, remember), while his former colleagues (many of them former MP, thanks to his style of government) get rubbed up the wrong way by his constant “Gee, wasn’t I good” mantra.

There’s no arguing that Newman tried to tackle Queensland statism, but good policy implemented ineptly becomes disastrous when it makes reform impossible. What’s Campbell Newman’s greatest legacy? Annastacia Palaszczuk, Stephen Miles and the late unlamented Jackie Trade; a government that combines the worst aspects of Sunshine State socialism and Sunshine State sleaze.

So Can Do might, but it’s unlikely.

I say “might” because Newman, so the gossip goes, has apparently become closer to sometime sparring partner Clive Palmer of late.

The Australian report that broke the story of Newman’s comeback flagged he could run as an independent, and LDP candidate — or under the Palmer flag.

And as we’ve learnt from recent elections Palmer’s pockets — if not his policies — carry some clout.

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