Why this life-long Lib has quit the party

Pauline Clayton, pictured with former Prime Minister John Howard at the campaign launch for then LNP Nicklin candidate John Connolly.
Pauline Clayton, pictured with former Prime Minister John Howard at the campaign launch for then LNP Nicklin candidate John Connolly. Mark Furler

A LIFE-LONG member of the LNP who has worked for both former Fisher MP Mal Brough and current State Member for Kawana Jarrod Bleijie has quit the party to join the Australian Conservatives.

Pauline Clayton, who also served as a Caloundra City Councillor and at different times for Federal parliamentarians Warren Entsch (Leichhardt) Graeme McDougall (Griffith) and Marshall Baillieu (La Trobe), worked for the party during the Fraser and Howard Government and also during the eras of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.

She was one of 70 people who attended a meeting of the Cory Bernardi-led Australian Conservatives at which supporters groups for the Fisher and Fairfax electorates were formed.

Australian Conservatives Queensland convenor Rod McGarvie said on the Sunshine Coast 800 people - both financial members and those with an interest - subscribed to Senator Bernardi's weekly newsletter.

Mr McGarvie said on a show of hands Friday's Caloundra meeting had shown 50% had former party allegiance with the other 50% new to politics.

Nationally he said the split was 70% members new to politics and 30% who have had previously been a member of a political party.

Ms Clayton said she had resigned from the LNP and was now a financial member of the new party but would not engage at an organisational level.

She said she had become disillusioned by the attacks on cartoonist Bill Leak under Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act and the lawsuit also brought under the Act against five Brisbane university students one of whom was not informed until four days before he was due to face court.

Ms Clayton said she had expected both Malcolm Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten would have said enough at that point and addressed problems with the Racial Discrimination Act but both had failed to do so.

She said she still remained a supporter of Mr Bleijie but said Mr Turnbull would make a great leader of the Labor Party.

Mr Bleijie has been contacted for comment but is still to respond.

"I have joined the Australian Conservatives as have other LNP members," Ms Clayton said.

"I attended the meeting at Caloundra and there was a palpable fear in the room."

She said people were sick of hearing about Cook's statue and banning Australia Day and wanted politicians to talk about what really mattered.

Ms Clayton said she had a colleague who was still working who had turned off her hot water to reduced her energy consumption costs so that she could otherwise continue to live well.

But she said "seriously sensible" people who had attended on Friday were less concerned about economic issues and more fearful the foundations of the Australian society they grew up in were being eroded.

"The LNP has always been a big vibrant family here (on the Coast)," Ms Clayton said.

"But its structure appears to have run its time. The Australian Conservatives will have supporter groups rather than branches and I don't expect to be told by Cory Bernardi that if you speak publicly you will be banned.

"I've been a Liberal all my life so this is a big shift for me."

Mr McGarvie said the Fisher and Fairfax supporter groups would create their own structures and appoint people to various functions as they saw fit.

He said branch structures had their benefits and drawbacks in that they can result in "little fiefdoms" forming.

The supporter groups would be free to provide feedback directly to either the state or national headquarters. 

Topics:  18c australian conservatives editors picks fairfax fisher jarrod bleijie lnp racial discrimination act sunshine coast warren entsch

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