‘Bugger this’: Shock as Labor stalwart quits party

 

FORMER Burleigh MP and State Labor stalwart Christine Smith has quit the party in protest of the "captain's call" to install celebrity candidate Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew.

The 30-year party veteran has sent a shock letter of resignation to ALP headquarters, taking aim at party bosses for ignoring long-serving branch members in favour of a celebrity candidate.

Mr Bartholomew, a former world champion surfer, was announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk as Labor's standard-bearer in the marginal southern Gold Coast seat a week ago in the hopes of unseating long-serving LNP MP Michael Hart.

Former Burleigh MP Christine Smith has quit the ALP
Former Burleigh MP Christine Smith has quit the ALP

A "deeply disappointed" Ms Smith said the press conference was the first she and other Labor branch members were aware that a candidate had been chosen.

"My beef is not with the candidate - I do not even know him - my beef is with how the party has handled the process," she said.

"The party has rules and we are meant to abide by them but when it is convenient, the party office overrides these and installed someone who was not even a member.

"The first time any of us knew about it was seeing Annastacia (Palaszczuk) on the beach announcing it."

LABOR NAMES ITS NEW SOUTHPORT CANDIDATE

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew and Steven Miles when she announced his candidacy last week. Picture: Scott Powick
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew and Steven Miles when she announced his candidacy last week. Picture: Scott Powick

Ms Smith said she and other members felt betrayed by the party not putting Mr Bartholomew to local members for their approval, which is the normal preselection process.

"I felt this was unfair to the branch members who work hard rain, hail or shine and go out there to do whatever they need to do because they believe in the cause," she said.

"Then you get a candidate dumped on your members like this. It was disappointing and disrespectful.

"It's not the first time this has happened and I thought, 'Bugger this, I can be a good Labor person but not be a member anymore'. It was the only way to make a real point."

Christine Smith says she is disappointed that local branch members were ignored.
Christine Smith says she is disappointed that local branch members were ignored.

She sent her letter of resignation late last week.

Ms Smith has been involved in Labor politics since the 1980s and was hailed as a "hero" in the 1990s for blowing the whistle on her own boss, Senator Mal Colston, over a travel allowances scandal.

She was elected to State Parliament in early 2001 as one of the "magnificent seven", a wave of ALP candidates who swept the Gold Coast seats that year.

She retained her seat for 11 years across four consecutive terms where she served alongside

Ms Palaszczuk in the Beattie and Bligh governments.

Christine Smith was hailed as a “hero” for her role in exposing then-Senator Mal Colston.
Christine Smith was hailed as a “hero” for her role in exposing then-Senator Mal Colston.

After losing her seat in the 2012 election, the former MP continued to help lead the local Labor movement through its darkest days during the Newman Government era.

Despite resigning her membership, Ms Smith said she would still vote for Labor and support the party.

"I believe in something and I will always be a Labor voter, I will also support them but I don't have to be a member to do it.

ALP branch members were upset about the move. Picture: Scott Powick
ALP branch members were upset about the move. Picture: Scott Powick

"Since politics left me, I maintained my membership and stayed to help the community which I love but the party can be so bloody minded when it wants to be.

"Politics was never a career for me, I just wanted to do the right thing."

On Saturday, State Treasurer Cameron Dick, a powerbroker for the Right faction, defended Mr Bartholomew's selection.

"You couldn't get a better Labor candidate for Burleigh," he said.

"Rabbit would make an outstanding MP and I look forward to campaigning with him."

 

Originally published as 'Bugger this': Shock as Labor stalwart quits party



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