By Chris Graham*NATIONAL: The best predictor of someone’s future behaviour is their past behaviour. Which means that with Mal Brough winning pre-selection for the federal seat of Fisher, parliament is in for a sideshow the likes of which it hasn’t seen since… well, the last time Brough was there.
Brough’s win in the Liberal National Party’s pre-selection for the seat of Fisher means he’ll almost certainly be back in federal parliament by 2013.
But contrary to widespread media reports, Fisher is not a safe seat. It holds a margin of less than eight percent, way down on the glory days of 20-plus percent in 2004 which it enjoyed under Peter Slipper.
Still, if the predicted electoral wipeout of Labor in Queensland comes true, Brough will likely win the seat with an increased margin.
There’s also a broad expectation that Brough will walk straight back into the ministry if he wins office. And there’s widespread fear in black Australia that the portfolio will be Aboriginal Affairs, given Brough’s boys own adventure in 2007 with the Northern Territory intervention.
I think the fear is misplaced.
When the Libs merged with the Nats in Queensland, Brough was the leading figure opposing the move. He had a dummy-spit, resigned as president, and fired shots from the sidelines in a bid to wreck the process.
That makes Brough today about as popular among his conservative colleagues as a refugee at a Liberal Party convention.
Brough won pre-selection courtesy of a good old-fashioned membership drive (which some have unkindly suggested is also known as a branch stack). Whatever it was, it was enough to get him across the line in Fisher, but with high profile federal Libs like Joe Hockey, Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull lining up to back ‘the other guy’ – rising star James McGrath – Brough is unlikely to simply walk back into a cabinet position.
Even less so with the stink that surrounds him on the Slipper affair.
And none of that factors in the risk that the Liberals might actually discover that Brough was not only a terrible Minister for Indigenous Affairs, but he was only ever a syllable and a decision away from saying and doing something really, really silly.
With that in mind, it’s worth revisiting some of the policy disasters over which Mal Brough presided during the Howard years.1. DESTINATION ANYWHERE The Community Development Employment Program – aka the black work for the dole – was designed and run by Aboriginal people, and had been chugging away relatively successfully for more than three decades.
Enter Mal Brough, who decided in 2006 that CDEP had become a “destination” rather than a “path to real employment”.
He began abolishing CDEP in remote regions, despite the fact CDEP was the ONLY source of employment in impoverished towns, not to mention the major funder of basic services.
Aboriginal unemployment when Brough left office was at near record levels.
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