Operation “Save Jane” has kicked off, with outspoken Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch suggesting the Prime Minister intervene to overturn Jane Prentice’s preselection defeat.
On Saturday, Assistant Minister for Disability Services Ms Prentice lost preselection for the safe LNP seat of Ryan to Brisbane City councillor Julian Simmonds.
It was a comprehensive defeat, 256 to 103, but has sparked a focus on the number of women in the LNP.
Mrs Prentice is one of only three women representing the LNP in Federal Parliament from Queensland.
Mr Entsch said he was profoundly disappointed and called it a “bloody disgrace”.
“I think it sends a very, very bad message with regards to women in politics in Queensland,” he said.
Mr Entsch said he would like the Prime Minister to intervene to have the decision overturned.
Mrs Prentice is not publicly pushing to have the preselection reversed.
She echoed the words former prime minister Tony Abbott uttered when he was rolled for the Liberal leadership in 2015 — “shit happens,” Mrs Prentice said to ABC journalist Matt Wordsworth in a text message.
Jane Prentice told ABC journalist Matt Wordsworth “shit happens” in response to being dumped in LNP preselection.
(ABC News: Matt Wordsworth)
Health Minister Greg Hunt said he was “personally very disappointed about Jane’s loss”.
Mr Entsch said Mrs Prentice was an outstanding contributor who had been focusing on her frontbench role as Assistant Minister for Disability Services.
He argued Mr Simmonds had time to ensure he had the numbers for preselection while Mrs Prentice had been spending her time rolling out the NDIS.
Treasurer Scott Morrison rejected the view that there should be intervention to overturn Mrs Prentice’s dumping.
“Canberra shouldn’t be messing in the affairs of Queensland, that is not how our party operates,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our rank and file members are the ones who decide who stands for them at every election.”
Dumping or democracy?
Former Brisbane lord mayor Sallyanne Atkinson said she did not see the weekend result as Mrs Prentice being dumped.
“She has been there for a while and there was a feeling — I gather — in the party, among the branches, that it was time to give somebody else a go,” she said.
“That’s what democracy is all about.”
Mrs Atkinson said Mrs Prentice had done a good job.
He noted that the LNP in Queensland had chosen Amanda Stoker to replace George Brandis in the Senate, which boosted its female representation in the Upper House slightly.
There is also turmoil in Western Australia, where the Liberal Party executive has been forced to intervene in the preselection of Ian Goodenough, after what is being described as an administrative bungle.
The ABC understands eight branches in Mr Goodenough’s electorate of Moore breached the party’s rules governing the timing of their annual meetings, meaning they would have been excluded from the preselection process.
That would have left two branches, and a total of eight delegates, deciding Mr Goodenough’s future, so the State Council intervened on the weekend to take over the preselection process.
Mr Goodenough is the only MP in WA facing a preselection challenge and would have almost certainly lost had the executive not intervened.