He said that as a “sensible third option”, the “energised” Liberal Democrats would be fielding Senate candidates – and would even eye some seats in the House of Representatives – in a nationwide push.
“[Prime Minister] Scott Morrison has, sadly, let us down with very illiberal big-government over-reach,” Mr Newman said. “Anthony Albanese represents outdated socialism that will saddle our kids with huge debt and destroy our culture with woke nonsense and red tape.”
The Liberal Democrats hold two seats in the Victorian Upper House and held two seats federally with David Leyonhjelm and Duncan Spender until the 2019 election.
The party is expected to tap into community angst around COVID-19 restrictions. Its candidate for the NSW seat of Warringah, John Ruddick – himself a former Liberal Party identity – was fined last month for attending a Sydney anti-lockdown rally.
Mr Newman’s presence on the Queensland Senate ticket could prove costly for the LNP, with Amanda Stoker’s third-place spot on her party’s ticket by no means a certainty of re-election.
The Morrison government’s assistant minister for women won one of the six Queensland Senate seats up for grabs at the 2019 election, with Labor, One Nation and the Greens also collecting spots in the Upper House.
While refusing to name names, Mr Newman brushed aside questions of potential criticism from those within his old party, saying some had been supportive of his political return.
A popular Brisbane lord mayor whose public approval soared over his management of the 2011 flood response, Mr Newman was parachuted in to lead the state LNP later that year.
The LNP annihilated Labor at the polls in one of the largest electoral routs in Australian history, leaving them with just seven seats.
However, after a single term marked by several deeply unpopular policies, including the sacking of 14,000 public servants and plans to privatise state assets, the LNP suffered a collapse of its own.
Speaking before Mr Newman’s announcement on Sunday, one of his former government ministers, now LNP Opposition Leader David Crisafulli, said Mr Newman had chosen a “different direction” to the party, but that he (Mr Crisafulli) did not “wish him any ill”.
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