‘Frankly we deserve to lose Currumbin to Labor’
CIVIL war has broken out within the LNP over the "captain's call" to pick a political unknown to replace Jann Stuckey.
Barrister Laura Gerber was last night named as the party's candidate to contest next month's crucial by-election in Currumbin.
The mother of two, who is understood to have only recently joined the LNP, will take on Labor's Kaylee Campradt.
Key LNP figures are furious that the party's state executive selected Ms Gerber rather than the usual method of allowing members to pick their representative.
"This is what Labor does, this isn't how it is meant to be for us," one party figure told the Bulletin.
"Frankly, we deserve to lose the by-election if this is how we are going to play things."
Other senior LNP members said they were "flabbergasted" that nominations for the seat closed within hours of Ms Stuckey announcing her exit from state politics last week.
"This is unprecedented and has been a total stitch up," a long-serving party member said. "There are a lot of people who are really unhappy about this."
Ms Gerber was last night introduced to party members by Ms Frecklington at a closely guarded meeting at Currumbin RSL.
Party members were yesterday bombarded with emails urging them to attend the event and meet the candidate in an attempt to quell the anger.
Ms Frecklington did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Ms Gerber, a lawyer, has more than 10 years of litigation experience and since July 2015 has served as principal legal officer for the Office of the Health Ombudsman.
The Bulletin was told the LNP state executive were impressed by Ms Gerber during the vetting process and considered her a strong candidate whose relative youth would be an asset in the southern seat.
Labor have hit the ground running, having picked its candidate last year and spent the summer campaigning in the area.
However, she decided to pull the pin nine months earlier than expected, catching the LNP off guard. Ms Stuckey has held the seat since 2004 and won the last election with a 3.3 per cent margin.
Ms Stuckey had backed lawyer Chris Crawford to be her replacement. However, he was rejected by party powerbrokers, sparking a fiery meeting with Ms Stuckey.
In what became her final speech to Parliament, Ms Stuckey praised Mr Crawford and attacked party bosses for their role in the pre-selection battle.
The long-serving MP last week dropped a bombshell on state politics, announcing she would resign from Parliament effective February 1, triggering a by-election after 16 years as the area's MP.
Ms Stuckey cited mental health issues as well as the cost of abuse in the political sphere.
The Bulletin has been told Opposition MPs are considering the by-election to be a test of Deb Frecklington's leadership.
"A poor result at the by-election will trigger unrest in the party and leave the gap open for a challenge," one senior party figure told the Bulletin last night.
The Government yesterday said a date had not been set for the by-election because Ms Stuckey was yet to resign from Parliament.
However, the by-election is expected to be held on March 28 to coincide with the local government election.