Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Buswell confident ahead of Liberal Party vote -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Buswell confident ahead of Liberal Party vote

The World Today - Monday, 5 May , 2008 12:14:00

Reporter: David Weber

ELEANOR HALL: The now infamous Liberal Party leader in Western Australia is adamant that he'll
survive today's party room vote which was sparked by his admission that he sniffed a woman's chair
in 2005.

Troy Buswell says he's now a changed man and no longer engages in such behaviour. And he has some
high profile support.

But there are other Liberals who warn that Mr Buswell's actions have damaged the party beyond
repair, and they're pushing for him to go.

Our reporter in Perth, David Weber, joins us now with the latest.

David, it says a lot about the leadership potential in the Liberal Party there, doesn't it, that Mr
Buswell has even a chance of surviving in the leadership?

DAVID WEBER: It does, Eleanor. Mr Buswell is a strong parliamentary performer and he has the
ability to cut through in terms of delivering the Liberal Party's message. Although there've been a
few hiccups in that regard since he became leader earlier this year, he is still seen as the
party's best option.

But there have been attempts to try to get former leaders Colin Barnett and Matt Birney interested,
but Mr Barnett's ruled himself out and Matt Birney's indicated he wants to leave politics at the
next election, although, apparently he's keeping his options open.

Now, the message coming from sources in the Liberal Party, journalists and political analysts is
that Mr Buswell will survive today's party room meeting, indeed they're saying there won't even be
a vote on the leadership because the spill motion itself is likely to be defeated 20-10.

So, unless this is a highly successful disinformation campaign being put about by Buswell
supporters, he's likely to be the leader of the WA Liberal Party at the end of today. But there are
some people in the party who are very angry about Troy Buswell's actions back in 2005 when, he's
admitted now to having sniffed the Liberal's staffer chair and also the way he dealt with it,
because on Monday he said, "This is all unsubstantiated rumour and I'm not going to comment on it,"
and of course the next day he admitted it.

Now, the spill motion is being led by Graham Jacobs, the member for Roe. He isn't putting himself
forward for the leadership. Steve Thomas is, he says he has the skills required for a new direction
and a new focus. He's was on ABC Radio this morning. He said he was worried about the reputation of
the Liberal Party brand and this is some of what Steve Thomas had to say.

STEVE THOMAS: I don't think that the Liberal Party has ever faced a greater turmoil or a greater
threat than it does at the moment with all of this activity happening on the eve of a 'one vote,
one value' election for the first time in our history.

I think this is a crisis point and a crossroads for the Liberal Party, as it is for a number of
careers and I'm hoping that the Liberal Party will move forward from this in a positive manner.
Now, I don't know if that's possible.

ELEANOR HALL: That's leadership aspirant Steve Thomas.

Now, David, there's been extraordinary publicity about this event. We've just heard Steve Thomas
say he doesn't even think or know if it's possible whether the Liberal Party will recover. What's
the public reaction likely to be if Buswell does survive as the WA Liberals leader?

DAVID WEBER: Of course, this story went not only national but international. He became a national
laughing stock and an international laughing stock, although surely there was a lot of disgust out
there as well. Talking back callers last week were overwhelmingly opposed to Troy Buswell's staying
in the job. This morning, it was more of a 50-50 split, although all of the women that called up
suggested that, or said that he should go on very strong terms.

A lot of the polling that's been carried out suggests that people want him out. I haven't spoken to
one person over the past week that thinks he should remain. I'm talking about people from across
the political spectrum. Some Labor voters I've spoken to say they want Mr Buswell to stay because
it will help Labor win the next election.

Now, this morning, The West Australian newspaper published a rare and scathing front page editorial
saying the Liberals should dump Mr Buswell, or it will be seen as condoning sexual harassment in
the workplace. And the editorial accuses him of establishing a record of unprincipled behaviour,
and says today's vote should amount to a Liberal Party plebiscite on Mr Buswell's character and
this test he fails miserably.

So, very strong words there from the state's main daily.

ELEANOR HALL: From what you're saying, it's only within the Liberal Party party room itself that Mr
Buswell's likely to survive?

DAVID WEBER: Yeah, and the support that you've alluded to earlier, Julie Bishop and Brendan Nelson
last weekend and on the weekend and the standing ovation at the Liberal Party State Conference on
the weekend, which some people are saying sends the wrong message, a standing ovation there for
Troy Buswell.

ELEANOR HALL: David, clearly the Liberal Party has its troubles, but there's also been some
allegations made against the Labor Premier there. Tell us briefly about those.

DAVID WEBER: There have - allegations that Mr Carpenter, when he was education minister, lifted the
top of one MP and put his face near the breasts of another at a party. Now, there's been no
complaint in this regard and one of those women has identified herself as a strong feminist and she
said if anything inappropriate happened, she would have raised it with the Premier at the time.

So, the Government has fairly shut that story down. It's come out of the Sunday Times, which broke
the chair sniffing scandal, this did happen some years ago, but it suggests that there are people
out there that want to put these images in people's minds, I suppose, and once it gets into
people's heads, that's maybe all that the intention is at this stage with something like that.

ELEANOR HALL: David Weber, our reporter in Perth, thank you.