Coalition Senator Barry O'Sullivan during Senate Question Time late last year. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
Coalition Senator Barry O'Sullivan during Senate Question Time late last year. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Senate swaps put LNP ‘on edge’ in country

ANGRY country LNP members have warned that the dumping of two senators could hurt the party's chances in four marginal seats, and could even damage the Coalition's re-election chances.

Losing two regionally based senators for city-based representatives last week has seen city-country tensions flare in the LNP, 10 years after the merger of the National and Liberal parties.

But others are moving to rally behind the new blood, ­arguing it will renew the party.

New candidate Susan McDonald's announcement this week that she would be based in Townsville could also ease some of the unrest.

Ian Macdonald lost his top billing on the LNP’s Senate ticket. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
Ian Macdonald lost his top billing on the LNP’s Senate ticket. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Townsville-based Ian Macdonald and Toowoomba-based Barry O'Sullivan lost their top billing on the LNP's Senate ticket, with positions going to mining executive Paul Scarr, and Super Butcher managing director and Nationals royalty Ms McDonald, who both live in Brisbane.

Senior LNP figures have told The Courier-Mail some already disaffected members and voters would be pushed over the edge into voting for minor parties such as Katter's Australian Party or One Nation.

Leichhardt, Capricornia, Dawson and Flynn are all under threat, while the chances of a third Senate spot or winning back Herbert are all but gone, they said.

"People have been toying with leaving, and for some of them, this will be it," a senior LNP source said.

There has been mixed reaction within the LNP to Susan McDonald’s selection.
There has been mixed reaction within the LNP to Susan McDonald’s selection.

But others questioned the severity of the fallout, saying that while Ms McDonald lived in Brisbane, stalwart Ron Boswell had been one of the most effective regional and rural representatives while working out of the capital.

One said losing Senator O'Sullivan was "bloody disappointing" as he had been neutralising the impact of One Nation. However, they added that Ms McDonald was "a very credible replacement, and incredibly intelligent".



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