Outgoing LNP President Gary Spence pictured addressed the media on Friday. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning
Outgoing LNP President Gary Spence pictured addressed the media on Friday. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning

LNP president ‘faced jail’ without resignation

QUEENSLAND'S Liberal-National Party will select a temporary successor for president Gary Spence next week after he spectacularly quit the role on Friday, blaming the State Government's "draconian" developer donation ban.

Mr Spence said he hoped Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was "proud of herself" for forcing his move.

 

There had been speculation a change at the top the party was looming following unrest over the fallout from the abortion decriminalisation vote that saw the political futures of three MPs threatened.

But Mr Spence on Friday insisted that did not play a role. He said legal advice he received on Wednesday afternoon as part of his High Court challenge to Labor's donation ban forced his hand as it found that while the party could collect donations from developers for the looming campaign he could face two years jail for soliciting them.

He officially informed the LNP's state executive of his decision after it was revealed in The Courier-Mail on Friday.

A second state executive meeting will be held on Tuesday when his resignation will take effect and a new acting president appointed. Popular vice-president David Hutchinson is expected to take over. The battle for the permanent role will likely begin in earnest after the federal election.

Mr Spence also shrugged off suggestions his role in the rolling of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had taken its toll, insisting he had no regrets.

He sent a missive to members explaining his decision.

 

Outgoing LNP president Gary Spence, vice president David Hutchinson and leader Deb Frecklington pictured in July. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt
Outgoing LNP president Gary Spence, vice president David Hutchinson and leader Deb Frecklington pictured in July. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt

"I have been forced to take this action by Annastacia Palaszczuk's draconian and punitive legislation that prohibits the property development sector from actively participating in Queensland's political life," he said in his letter of resignation.

"Despite recent changes to Commonwealth legislation, which reaffirmed the Commonwealth's jurisdiction over the conduct of federal elections, it remains the case that the LNP - as a political party registered in Queensland - is still affected by the Queensland legislation.

"As such, I am effectively prohibited by law from continuing as your president.

"Simply put, the president of your party must be able to fundraise and campaign for the LNP. Your president must be able to raise the funds required to keep our party running and Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor has made it a criminal offence for me to do so."

Mr Spence is the executive chairman of PeakUrban, a civil engineering and development consultant.

"If I do my job as the LNP President in the lead-up to the next federal election I could go to jail for two years," he said at a press conference after stepping down.

The move will have a serious impact on Liberal National Party preparations for the election.

Mr Hutchinson is considered the main contender to hold the role permanently but some were also agitating for former Queensland leader and founding father of the merged party Lawrence Springborg to take up the role.

Mr Spence will remain on state executive as honorary past president.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington thanked Mr Spence for his service in a statement on Friday.

"Mr Spence is passionate about the LNP and his work to merge the party and his service should never be forgotten," she said in a statement.