Meet Queensland's most influential man
AS COUNTING in a tense Queensland election went down to the wire and LNP leadership speculation intensified yesterday, arguably the state's most influential politician was also its most relaxed, hat on, feet up on the porch and comfortable about whatever may come.
Peter Wellington has seen it all before.
It was his support that resolved a hung parliament for a minority Beattie Labor government in 1998, and it will be he that Annastacia Palaszczuk will look to in a bid to become premier in 2015.
Mr Wellington heads to Brisbane tomorrow to sit down separately with officials from the Labor, LNP and Katter parties far more certain and confident about his role than he was as a rookie MP faced with tough choices in 1998.
His phone has run hot but he's been in no hurry, wanting to hold off serious discussions about the future of Queensland until there is greater certainty about seats still in doubt.
News Ltd's Brisbane metropolitan daily no doubt had its own reasons for front page imagery that portrayed the dual degree-holding former solicitor as a hayseed during the election campaign.
Hindsight would suggest it was then unwise for the LNP, now stripped of its huge majority and clasping at faint hopes of holding on to government, to have followed suit. Its mocking campaign advertising was just another reminder, if he needed one, of the off hand manner he'd been treated in the past three years.
"I thought it (the front page) reflected more on the editors of that publication,'' Mr Wellington said.
"They shopped around for a photo - I don't know how old - to ridicule and deride candidates in an election. It was a deliberate attempt and it ended up in LNP advertising.
"But I've given a commitment that I will meet and talk. It will be a frank conversation."
Transport Minister Scott Emerson's decision straight after coming to office in 2012 to cancel a Bligh Labor government commitment to provide a disabled access lift to the Nambour Railway Station, is just the first of a long line of reasons a hearing will be all the LNP gets tomorrow.
"I want to see a government that can govern with stability irrespective of its numbers in parliament,'' Mr Wellington said.
"I want to see the wheels of government turn without having to face frivolous votes of no confidence every five days. Challenging decisions are going to have to be made with confidence in a process shared with Queenslanders and the Parliament."
A result that tied the LNP and Labor on 43 each would then bring Katter Australia Party parliamentarians Robbie Katter (Mt Isa) and Shane Knuth (Dalrymple) into play.
Given the equally mocking manner in which they were treated during the past three years, there would be some hard bargaining involved for the LNP to bring them into the fold.
Mr Wellington has little sympathy for the last government and no faith in its six Sunshine Coast members who survived the weekend's bloodbath.
He said they had all rolled over in the face of government interference in planning matters around Halls Creek and Sekisui House's Yaroomba proposal.
"They should have stuck solid and spoke out for their region,'' Mr Wellington said.
What he will be talking to all parties about is enhanced protection of payment for sub-contractors, something he said was critically important to the Sunshine Coast where so many workers were employed in construction.
"They're the first ones caught when construction companies go belly up," Mr Wellington said.
"Their best security is to quarantine money paid under a contract by a client to the job for which it was intended."
An investigation into alleged links between political donations and government decisions must be investigated he said, the committee system of review of legislation needed to be strengthened to stop the midnight presentation of new bills to Parliament and there needed to be greater transparency about meetings between government and business.
Mr Wellington wants TAFE brought back under public control rather than training being corporatised under a US model.
Whether his own role is as Speaker is a matter he has yet to consider. Conversations tomorrow will be frank.
"My campaign cost $5500, was self-funded and I owe no favours to anyone except to my community,'' Mr Wellington said.
"I sometimes get it wrong but I am always trying hard for them.
"The goal is stability and certainty."