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Federal Government

GAME OVER: Abbott privately sanctions a hit on Johnson

michaeljohnsongone Liberal sources tell VEXNEWS that federal parliamentary Liberal leader has “given the nod” to the execution of backbencher Michael Johnson who has been battling internal critics over fundraising allegations that were initially and exclusively revealed on VEXNEWS and later admitted by the MP in other publications.

It’s an extraordinary high-stakes situation of brinkmanship where the beseiged MP is using every possible tactic and stunt to fend off his opponents.

Abbott was asked about Johnson on Brisbane radio and tried to dead-bat the issue of the investigation into the MP by making only the vaguest of supportive remarks about the poor fellow.

Johnson went berserk, putting out this somewhat disingenuous press release on Friday:


“I am delighted that the Federal Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, has publicly and strongly endorsed me as the Coalition’s candidate for Ryan at the next election.

Mr Abbott’s remarks on Radio 4BC that I am a “significant contributor to our team in Canberra” are not only personally pleasing, but genuinely important to Mr Abbott’s chances of holding our QLD Coalition Federal seats and defeating this appalling Rudd Labor Government. Australia desperately needs a new Coalition Government and for that to happen, Ryan must be in the blue column on election night.

Mr Abbott knows very well that the people of Ryan are best served by a local MP who actually knows their issues and concerns, who has a track record of strong local representation and engagement with the community, and who, of course, lives in the electorate.

Therefore, Mr Abbott’s public statement of strong support for me personally is not only welcome on my part, but also in the interests of my colleagues such as Peter Dutton in the marginal seat of Dickson and candidates such as Teresa Gambaro in the marginal seat of Brisbane.

Mr Abbott knows how important it is to have hardworking and dedicated local candidates who live and breathe their community, as I have done for almost 30 years in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. I live in the Ryan electorate, unlike the ALP’s candidate. Indeed, as the sitting Member for Ryan since 2001 (having survived the Rudd electoral tsunami in 2007), there is no-one better placed to hold on to the now marginal seat of Ryan than myself.

Notwithstanding the fact that, legally and technically, I am grandfathered according to the LNP Constitution as part of the terms of the merger between the former Liberal Party and the former National Party, I appreciate Mr Abbott’s generous remarks of endorsement and support.

I take this opportunity to publicly thank the former Howard Government Minister, the Hon Mal Brough, for contacting me in writing many weeks ago to advise me that he had been approached to replace me and run for the seat of Ryan. I thank him for his integrity and strong support in rejecting such madness. It speaks much about his character.

I also take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of local Party members and ordinary local Ryan residents who have been a source of inspiration.

I look forward very much to the election campaign and to asking the Labor Candidate for Ryan (over and over) why he is not prepared to live in the Ryan electorate, when he seeks to represent the people of Ryan in the Australian Parliament.

Once again, I express my personal appreciation to Mr Abbott for his continued public support and leadership of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party. I feel completely vindicated in my personal judgement last December that Mr Abbott should assume the party leadership and I look forward to Mr Abbott being Australia’s next Prime Minister. Our Nation certainly needs a change of Government at the next election.”

A Brisbane source familiar with the LNP’s inner workings told VEXNEWS:

“(This is) absolutely unbelievable…a total concoction by Johnson…it was hardly a ringing endorsement!”

Canberra sources close to the Leader’s office say the release (that caused a furious reaction from Abbott and minders apparently) and Johnson’s stubborn refusal to co-operate with the inquiry into fundraising practices have prompted the Leader to make it known he “would not stand in anyone’s way” if Johnson was dis-endorsed under the LNP’s rules.

This is a considerable shift and a highly unusual move for a party leader because there is an expectation in the Liberal party room that leader’s stand by incumbent MPs.

The Canberra insider said “It’s got to be game over for him, I reckon. He couldn’t have done any more to alienate the Leader’s office or everyone else. He’s either hiding something or he’s a complete fool. Take your pick.”

Brisbane councillor Jane Prentice – who has expressed her displeasure with VEXNEWS in the past – is believed to be ready to run as the Liberal candidate in Ryan “at a moment’s notice.” She is thought to be a much-stronger candidate by many locals in leafy establishment suburbs like St Lucia who always thought Johnson was a “chancer” and an “outsider.” Probably the only thing in his favour, in our book.

Once high-flying former minister Mal Brough has also been considered as a possible candidate although party insiders tell us that “he has completely lost the plot” and is “hoping the merged LNP will fall apart.” This isn’t considered likely given how well the LNP is performing in the published opinion polls in Queensland.

Brough is known to harbour a special hatred for beefy LNP financier and mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer, who according to the federal Treasurer Wayne Swan is defending his “fat profits” by criticising the government’s plan to tax mining industry “superprofits”.

Perhaps Queensland Labor could give Mal a go.


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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew Landeryou, David Hutt, Asia Pacific Brief, Andrew Carr, vexnews and others. vexnews said: GAME OVER: Abbott privately sanctions a hit on Johnson: Word in Canberra is Tony Abbott has made it clear he won't… http://bit.ly/db9XgZ […]

    Posted by Tweets that mention VEXNEWS 2010© | GAME OVER: Abbott privately sanctions a hit on Johnson -- Topsy.com | May 4, 2010, 19:11
  2. Thank God the Age has finally seen the light and sacked Deveney. What will she do for a job now?

    Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2010, 21:48
  3. Still got her nihilist mates at the ALP-BC to give her gigs. But yes, good that that dirty woman has gone from the Ageda

    Posted by John | May 4, 2010, 22:00
  4. can I help Michael by packing his fudge?

    Posted by Fudge Packer | May 4, 2010, 22:32
  5. You can’t blame Johnson for wanting no part of an investigation lead by Phillip Ruddock; Ruddock and Prentice were “very close” in the NSW moderates back around 40 years, before they each were married.

    Posted by James | May 4, 2010, 22:44
  6. Sniff-Sniff. A kangaroo court by the LNP it would seem!

    Posted by Bubba | May 4, 2010, 22:52
  7. Mike Baird must be rubbing his little hands together at Tony’s blunders. I see a new member for Warringah in a couple of years.

    Posted by Taking of Pell 123 | May 4, 2010, 23:22
  8. Andrew,

    Is Michael Johnson ghost-writing for Vexnews? He is a weirdo, and so are you.

    Posted by Funkelstein | May 4, 2010, 23:45
  9. But what about ME?

    I could be the next Member for Ryan. I could start a branch of our faction in Queensland. This could help make Alex the Leader.

    Posted by Miles | May 5, 2010, 9:21
  10. I wish I could vote out Johnson, but I can’t read the ballot. The LNP should use more pictures – writing is for fags.

    Posted by M Chadwick | May 5, 2010, 19:15
  11. Well we have heard all of this before.

    Meanwhile Johnson is still the endorsed candidate and that defies all logic.

    And Johnson is delusional if he thinks that he has strong support from the LNP in Ryan.

    He should ask his staff what the feeling was at the most recent Ryan FDC meeting.

    Another boring old fart

    Posted by another boring old fart | May 5, 2010, 20:55
  12. I would throw my name in ring for a trot at Ryan but the timing of the election would interfere with my training for the Melbourne Cup. Some other crumb will have to champion free sugar cubes for all. Neighhh!

    Posted by say neigh to grady | May 5, 2010, 23:10
  13. I “gave the nod” to get rid of Clarke….

    Posted by Alex Sqwark | May 6, 2010, 1:24
  14. Didn’t I pack your fudge once Alex?

    Posted by Fudge Packer | May 6, 2010, 6:13
  15. Sorry Johnson. You will have to wait your turn to join the elite group known as the crumbs. We now have an very fine individual called Aiden McLindon who ticks the boxes better than you who wants to join. He must surely have seen on the weekend that our block of 6 votes in a room of 90 was indeed where the true power lies.

    Posted by Crumb Supporter | May 6, 2010, 8:32
  16. my daddy told me to 100% deny wanting to replace Tony Abbott as the MP for Warringah!

    Posted by Mike Baird | May 6, 2010, 10:11
  17. Just a tip for you, Vexnews. Your correspondent “Fudge Packer” apparently has SERIOUS issues to deal with, and I suggest that he does your blog no credits whatsoever. If I were you, I’d moderate his/her comments right out of here; they are of absolutely NO value to the discussions. Whoever he or she is ought to be getting help, serious help.

    Posted by Observer | May 6, 2010, 11:37
  18. I hear Alex Hawke is backing Scott Farlow for Ryan, and that Farlow is looking for a house up there.

    Posted by hawkehunter | May 6, 2010, 12:07
  19. Is NSW Labor planning on duplicating any bridges up in Ryan??

    Scott runs a mean anti-bridge duplication campaign. Look how well it worked out for him in Drummoyne!

    Posted by Darren Dudson | May 6, 2010, 12:23
  20. I wonder if there are any bridges in Castle Hill?

    Posted by hawkehunter | May 6, 2010, 14:11
  21. Hang on a sec Hawkehunter, wasn’t Tony Abbott sending Scott and Simon up to the Pilbara?

    Posted by Mitchell Observer | May 6, 2010, 16:58
  22. Hey Observer, you are celarly a fudge packing bigot. Your intolerance does you no credit and you should consider what contribution you can make to society rather than condemning others. Your biased and poisonous views are not consistent with the views of vex where freedom rings.

    Having said all that, I’d be willing to pack your fudge.

    Posted by Fudge Packer | May 7, 2010, 23:20
  23. Who the hell is Scott Farlow.

    I live and vote in Ryan and I have never heard of him?

    Posted by the boring old fart | May 8, 2010, 20:58