Regional voters in Bernardi's sights with Shelton move
LYLE Shelton has dipped his toe into partisan federal politics, taking on the role as federal communications director for the Australian Conservatives.
The former Toowoomba councillor, who spent 10 years with the Australian Christian Lobby, will use his high public profile to build the party in Queensland.
Mr Shelton was expected to announce he would run for public office after resigning as ACL managing director on Saturday.
He has not ruled out a future political career.
"If that opportunity arose I would be very keen to serve," Mr Shelton said.
"I'm taking on this new role to help build its capacity, particularly here in Queensland, but also in a national capacity as well."
It's another indicator of how critical Queensland, and Toowoomba, will be in the next federal election.
AC founder Senator Cory Bernardi said Queensland was a "very strong state" for Australian Conservatives.
"There are regional areas of Queensland I think that have been neglected," Senator Bernardi said.
"Our goal is to not only win seats in the lower house but more importantly to hold and win seats in the Senate and upper house of (state) parliaments.
"If, as Australian Conservatives, we can garnish 10 per cent of the vote in our respective states, we will win Senate seats in those states.
"If we can do that over successive elections, we will be a force to be reckoned with."
In an 11-minute address to a crowd of about 50 at Fitzy's Tapestry room yesterday, Mr Shelton avoided mentioning the Australian Christian Lobby.
The staunch opponent to marriage equality will be based in Brisbane but will work closely with Senator Bernardi and other party members to seize on Queensland voters who have become disillusioned with the major parties.
"After more than a decade living in Canberra, fighting for truth and freedom, I can tell you that Canberra is broken," Mr Shelton said.
"This is not the Australia I grew up in. But I believe that there are things in life worth fighting for.
"The Coalition government's inability or unwillingness to even provide basic protections for freedom of speech and freedom of religion quite frankly left me stunned."
Liberal National Party president Gary Spence yesterday told The Chronicle there was no concern Mr Shelton or the Australian Conservatives would peel support away from the party.
"If he is stating that Canberra is broken it's because of the existence of minor parties in the Senate and Mr Shelton is doing a pretty good job of explaining why the people of Queensland should vote for the LNP at a Senate level in Queensland," Mr Spence said.
Mr Shelton is a former youth pastor and one-term local councillor who retired in 2006 and mounted an unsuccessful bid to enter state parliament with the Queensland Nationals in 2006.