From The Australian:
IF Campbell Newman’s audacious plan to become premier from outside the parliament fails on March 24 but his Liberal National Party still wins office, the man with the most to gain will be Tim Nicholls.
The LNP’s urbane deputy parlimentary leader has harboured ambitions for the top job since he joined the state arena five years ago from Mr Newman’s old stomping ground, Brisbane City Council.
So far, the 48-year-old has refused to follow the lead of his parliamentary leader Jeff Seeney and rule out any leadership ambitions, adding fuel to Labor’s campaign that Mr Newman could lose Ashgrove — held by Labor with a 7.1 per cent margin — and potentially give Queenslanders a premier without a popular mandate.
While the LNP and Mr Newman have steadfastly refused to countenance that possibility, yesterday Mr Seeney acknowledged it was “technically possible”.
I don’t think that we should take Mr. Seeney at his word when he claims that he will not make a move on the leadership if Mr. Newman fails to win Ashgrove. It would be absurd to believe that he does not have leadership ambitions when he has held the post before and was all-too-eager to take it again when the opportunity to came up - this is a man who is fueled by leadership ambition, and so to conclude that he would simply give up the chance to be Premier is absurd.
I think the premise of the story is therefore false: the greatest benefit would be felt by the Labor Party. It would quickly turn into a farce between Seeney, Nicholls, possibly Simpson, and maybe even Newman who could try to get in some other way. The new leader, who would likely emerge bruised and damaged from internal party squabbling, would have no popular mandate and would struggle to rise above that dialogue, much in the same way that Julia Gillard has struggled to sell her message at the federal level. It would be a mess and the only people who could possibly benefit from that would be the Labor Party.
It is all a hypothetical, of course, and despite the ALPs efforts it will be very difficult for them to retain Ashgrove. But even with the possibility being slim, it is not accurate to say that Nicholls would benefit from most from the LNP not immediately having a Premier-elect; it would certainly make him happy, but the greatest benefit would undoubtedly go to the Labor Party.