LEAKED REPORT: Why Campbell Newman lost Queensland

A PERCEIVED abandonment of regional and rural communities was one of many factors that led to the Newman government's demise, an in-party review has found.

Former LNP Queensland premier Rob Borbidge and former LNP MP Joan Sheldon conducted the review, which will be formally released at 2pm.

Ousted premier Campbell Newman's "can do" slogan also received a flogging.

The review stated Queenslanders wanted the government to fix "Labor's mess", but wanted stability and minimum incremental change.

Hasty crucial decisions made early came at a huge political cost, Mr Borbidge and Ms Sheldon found.

The review said its rushed reform agenda left little room for supporters and voters to express views and external new ideas or friendly criticism was unwelcome.

The review also condemned the decision to sack 14,000 public servants and other moves which broke key election promises.

The Newman government's decision to isolate itself from the LNP's organisational wing was also pinned as a problem.

The segregation led to a lack of consultation on policy or political party or campaign matters, the reviewers found. 

Other factors included  a false sense of security, leadership issues, a breakdown between the executive and the parliamentary wing, lack of consultation and listening, the election timing, errors in policy and political judgement and a perception of arrogance that just would not go away.

REACTION: Unions says report gives 'deodorised view' of LNP failures

The 15-page review found that the "overwhelming election win of 2012 led to hubris and a false sense of security.

That led to a "huge influx of inexperienced new MPs and a leader without parliamentary background", which the report authors found "contributed to a lack of corporate history in the conduct of parliament and the party room".

The reviewers suggested the creation of an agreement to ensure "a constructive, harmonious and positive working relationship prevails into the future" between parliamentary and organisational wings goodwill.

But the Newman government received a pat on the back, with the report stating "real progress was made in addressing the state's economic crisis, making Queensland safer, cutting red tape, improving basic services in health and education, sustaining the environment, etc.

Across all portfolios there were substantial improvements in service delivery and performance and it is one of the tragedies of the 2015 campaign that we failed to get this message across to Queenslanders".

The decision to call an election during the Christmas/New Year holiday period was slammed as a serious mistake and the review claimed voters resented it.

Mr Borbidge and Ms Sheldon also gave the Labor party and its "union mates" a spray, saying there were bent on a campaign of deceit and untruths.

But the reviewers found there was "no fight-back, no attempt to contradict or rebut the blatant untrue ALP propaganda" and the central campaign committee did not explain "unpopular decisions were needed to "fix Labor's mess".


Broad based disappointment has been expressed with the campaign and the election defeat. Undoubtedly, the leadership of the government contributed to the election loss including:

  • the breaking of the promise that public servants had 'nothing to fear';
  • the perception of arrogance arising from not listening to the people;
  • pursuing the large scale privatisation of assets to which the majority of
  • voters opposed or had serious reservations;
  • the alienation of key stakeholders in the decision making process; and
  •  the two year discordant relationship with the organisational wing. 




1. The Borbidge Sheldon review report and recommendations must be released to party units at the same time it is given to the state executive and made public thereafter.

2. The review committee notes the actions taken by the parliamentary party to address the lessons learned from the 2015 election defeat.

3. The review committee notes the over-riding need to improve the relationship between the parliamentary and organisational wings of the party and recommends:

  • The parliamentary party members retain the right to select their leader from within their own ranks.
  • A compact be established to define the relationship between the parliamentary and organisational wings of the party.
  • That the compact be prepared by a party member nominated by the parliamentary leader who should be a previous parliamentary leader of the LNP, the liberal party or the national party, a party member nominated by the state president who should be a former president of the LNP, the liberal party or the national party and one other, jointly nominated by both.
  • That the compact be agreed to by the parliamentary party and the state executive and signed by the parliamentary leaderand the party president.

4. That the state executive address as an urgent priority meaningful connectivity and communications with the grassroots membership.

5. That the LNP Integrity Paper should be updated and implemented and all candidates should be required to acknowledge and accept its requirements.

That the LNP in government or opposition be required to adhere to the principles which include:

  • broken promises will not be tolerated by the public;
  • corruption and lack of accountability will not be tolerated;
  •  the institutions of state must be respected.

6. That major policy issues proposed by the parliamentary party where possible be subjected to debate at either the state council or the state convention or, if found to be urgent, be considered by the president's
committee/state executive for comment.

7. That a party platform detailing the party's principles and policies be finalised for distribution to members as a matter of urgency.

8. That the president and the state director, in the LNP Annual Report indicate that the administrative, organisational, financial and policy responsibilities as required under the LNP's constitution has been
complied with.

9. That the central campaign committee be restructured to include party policy and decentralised representatives as determined by the president and parliamentary leader.

10. The position of campaign director should be separate from the state
director and report to the state president.

11. The review committee notes that a limited number of federal issues impacted adversely on the state campaign, in particular the controversy over the awarding of knighthoods, the GP co-payment and the defence
pay issue and recommends:

  • That close consultation be establish between the central campaign committee and the federal leadership to minimise adverse impacts on state campaigns of federal issues and that a liaison unit be established between central headquarters (CHQ) and the federal leader's office.

12. That a central campaign strategy allow increased decision making for local campaigns.

13. That state elections be avoided during the month of January as it is a recognised holiday period.

14. The review committee notes with concern:

  • The absence of a marginal/target seats campaign at the 2015 state election and recommends that the strategy be reinstated for future state elections,
  • the absence of a negative advertising campaign, the want of the central campaign committee to exploit the weaknesses of the prime opponent, and
  • the lack of third party endorsements in support of the party's policies and actions in the campaign.

It is recommended that such strategies be included in future state election campaigns.

15 Sitting MPS, recontesting the poll should be permitted to handle PVA's for his/her electorate, whilst candidates PVAs should be managed by the central campaign.

16 It is essential that booth advertising material should arrive prior to prepolling; booth signs should be of a size that enables them to be easily and safely transported.

17 The centralised banking system and the campaign funding/ budgeting process should be reviewed specifically to provide party units with increased financial control and campaign committees with the latitude to make funding decisions - whilst maintaining the link to CHQ budget/systems/agreements.

It recommended that:

  • That the treasurer report to state convention or council, as a matter of urgency, on measures that can be implemented to provide SEC's with greater responsibility for their funds and budgets.

18 The Just Vote 1 strategy should be reviewed to ensure that it is applicable to the political and election circumstances.

19 The review committee notes the enhancements to the applicant review process for the endorsement of candidates and recommends that the processes be monitored to ensure they are robust to meet any issue that
may emerge.

20 Plebiscites should be the preferred method for the selection of candidates.

21 That the CHQ organisational structure be reviewed to improve efficiency with emphasis on communications, policy development, membership services and the delivery thereof.

22 That the gender balance of the state executive be a consideration of members when electing persons to roles on this body.

23 That all appointments made by the state president or the state executivebe subject to confirmation by state council.

24 That the composition of the president's committee be widened to include the parliamentary leader or his nominee.

25 That members of state executive recognise the responsibilities associated with their dual roles of governance and communications to and from party units and ensure they act as conduits of information.

26 That a membership customer relations manager be appointed.

27 A permanent strategic research office should be established in CHQ to
undertake electorate and policy research.

28 A membership development strategy should be developed to grow the membership which should include the introduction of online membership applications.

29 A new category of family membership should be introduced.

30 State convention or state council resolutions be categorised to reflect the three levels of government so that the responsible minister/shadow/councillor or other office holder may be present for the duration of the debate.

31 State convention and state council attendance by the parliamentary leader and members of parliament be required unless in extenuating circumstances.

32 Meetings of the LNP state council and state convention and shadow cabinet meetings should be held, where practicable in regional centres as well as the capital city.

33 That ministers/shadows meet regularly with party policy chairs and their committees and attendance or otherwise conveyed to the parliamentary leader and the state president.

34 That CHQ prepare a data base of membership expertise as a resource for MP's and policy committees.

35 That the LNP establish an independent review of its social media strategy and its effectiveness compared to our political opponents.

36 That social media training should be introduced for MP's, senior staff and party members.

37 That an ongoing social media strategy be developed.

38 That members of parliament and candidates not be directly involved in the soliciting of funds.

39 That the LNP consider the full public funding of election campaigns and the banning of trade union and corporate donations.