Article by Paul Weston, published in the Gold Coast Bulletin and in other News Corp papers on 14 July 2020. The article is in response to our interview with Jann Stuckey on her view of the Queensland LNP.
LNP MPs are being intimidated by Christian right wingers on moral issues as the party becomes more like the old National Party, a former veteran politician warns.
ALP strategists have seized upon an interview with ex-Currumbin MP Jann Stuckey by the National Secular Lobby (NSL) which sought her views as a “moderate” member of the Liberal Party.
Just days after her resignation in January this year Ms Stuckey spoke out about being ostracised by fellow party members for supporting the decriminalisation of abortion.
The NSL, which backs equality on social issues and has broadcaster Philip Adams and euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke among its supporters, asked Ms Stuckey if she believed there to be a contest over “values” within the party.
“The LNP is definitely moving to the religious right and looking more and more like the National Party of old,” she said.
The NSL quizzed Ms Stuckey about alleged threats to moderate MPs concerning their chances of preselection due to their stance on voluntary assisted dying.
“Is there a danger that moderate voices may be lost to the party,” the NSL asked.
Ms Stuckey maintains the VAD legislation should be a conscience vote.
“And, from my own recent experience, and veiled threats from the LNP hierarchy that those MPs not toeing the party line will be disendorsed or not preselected, sadly I cannot see anyone from the LNP straying from that position,” she said.
An LNP source estimates up to 25 members had left the Currumbin branch.
“The religious right Nats have taken control,” the source said.
Other sources suggest Fadden MP Stuart Robert’s branch had a strong Christian base to its membership.
When contacted by the Bulletin, Ms Stuckey said she stood by the interview.
“I’m an Anglican. I’m not taking a pot shot. I stand by everything I said in that interview,” she said.
Ms Stuckey was furious the party did not attempt to improve Labor’s termination of pregnancy Bill.
“This just questions a conscience vote. It made a mockery out of it. Both sides voted on party lines. The way I was treated with the silence after that, made me realise just how much a hold the Christian Right had. I’ve never seen the level of intense lobbying that I’ve seen in the last couple of years from the Christian Right. It’s certainly intimidating, the intensity of it.”
Three LNP MPs crossed the floor on the Bill – Ms Stuckey later retired and the two others have been preselected to run again. Several Labor MP’s abstained from voting.
An LNP spokesman said: “LNP members of parliament were provided with a conscience vote and they voted in accordance with that conscience. It was a true conscience vote and any claims to the contrary are completely unfounded.”
But a Labor strategist said: “This just goes to show – you can’t trust Deb Frecklington and you can’t trust the LNP.
“They promised a conscience vote on abortion reform then had the bullies and the cronies of the LNP harass members of parliament. These are serious allegations that should be investigated.
“Who are the cronies and where are they now. It’s no secret that the ultraconservatives have taken hold of the LNP. That’s why they consistently jump into bed with One Nation and Clive Palmer.”