President of the Queensland Liberal National Party
Born in: Dalby, McIver grew up on the Darling Downs in Queensland
Friends: Campbell Newman
Foes: Gary Hardgrave | Santo Santoro | Geoff Greene
Home Town: Sunshine Coast
Christian cattle trucker Bruce McIver is the driving force behind Queensland's new Liberal National Party and the man who brought about the 2008 merger of the state's two right-of-center parties.
As president he is also the prime mover in the push to make "Can Do" Campbell Newman the state's next premier.
But in his headlong rush to reshape Queensland's political landscape, the self-made multi-millionaire, who just passed 60, has made an awful lot of enemies.
''He's very disliked,'' one Liberal grandee told The Power Index. ''The vast majority of Liberals see him as a person they want absolutely nothing to do with.''
''McIver has complete and absolute power in the LNP,'' says another disgruntled Liberal, who complains that he treats the party like his private company or personal fiefdom.
''He's a really brutal operator,'' a well-known Liberal MP told us, with grudging admiration. ''Some hate his guts, some love him to death. But you have to be with him if you want to get along.''
McIver went into politics in 2005 to answer Queensland's and the nation's call. ''I was one of the guys ... throwing baseball bats, saying 'why don't you fellas get your act together?' They said, 'Well, come and help us get our act together,' and that's what I did.''
McIver is an old-fashioned National Party stalwart in the Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen mould. His politics are coloured by a strong Christian faith. He passionately opposes stem cell research, derides the carbon tax as ''socialism'', is scandalised by what they teach in schools, and welcomes ''Christian soldiers'' into the LNP.
''McIver is charismatic, direct and with a firm handshake,'' a rare in-depth profile reported in 2009. ''He can be pleasant company, is well-mannered and listens to points of view.''
But many have seen his other side. ''The unfortunate thing about Bruce is that he doesn't have the common touch,'' says a man who knew him in his trucking days. ''He thinks everything should be run by people like him, the big operators in this world.''
McIver grew up on the Darling Downs and followed his father, Stan, into the family haulage business at the age of 19. He started as a driver and built it up into the largest livestock carrier in Australia. He then set up and ran what became the Australian Trucking Association.
In his spare time he established an 864-hectare irrigated cotton farm at Dalby and began pushing for the privatisation of the Cotton Marketing Board (in which he ultimately succeeded).
He sold his transport business in 2003 and his cotton farm in 2005, by which time he was well on his way to a second career—in politics—as president of the Queensland National Party.
McIver was given the top job a year after being parachuted into the party (without ever having attended a branch meeting) just as Peter Beattie was handing the Nationals a thrashing in the 2006 election. He then threw his considerable energies into procuring a merger with the Liberals.
It looked like the perfect fit: the Nationals had no support in the cities, the Liberals had none in the bush. United they would sweep all before them, or so the theory went. But the LNP failed to beat Premier Anna Bligh at the 2009 election and former Liberals have recently been leaving the party in droves.
McIver's favourite phrases during merger negotiations were: ''my word is my bond''; ''my handshake is my signature''; and ''my handshake is ironclad''.
''In hindsight, he said this far too much,'' one senior Liberal told The Power Index.
Disaffected Liberals claim McIver failed to deliver on a number of promises to do with the division of party jobs and safe seats. But they also claim he has hijacked their movement and that the merger was in fact a takeover.
''He had no intention of being part of the Liberal Party of Australia,'' says one. ''He wanted a new party, his party.''
Some of their complaints might seem trivial to outsiders, such as the absence of the word ''Liberal' on the LNP logo. But others are easier to understand. The Libs had an archive of old party documents and photos that McIver's people put in a skip and took to the dump. ''He annihilated all Liberal icons and cultural symbols,'' says a former Liberal Party official. ''It was political genocide.''
McIver is just as unpopular with Liberals in Canberra because he wants the LNP to operate at a federal level, rather than as a branch of the Libs (as the merger said it must be). He had a spectacular row with George Brandis and others at a caucus meeting in November 2010 and has had many running battles since.
''Even Tony Abbott is not prepared to take him on,'' notes one senior Queensland Liberal.
McIver is also widely criticised for the way he runs the new party. ''He's a total megalomaniac. It's his way or the highway,'' says one prominent Liberal. ''He's running the LNP like a religion and he sees himself as the pontiff.''
''He bullies people, he threatens people, he expels people,'' says another well-known Liberal figure.
One prominent Liberal who has been thrown out of the party is Gary Hardgrave, a former senator who is now a Brisbane radio host. After Hardgrave went on air to say he'd heard people were undermining the then LNP leader John-Paul Langbroek (they were), McIver sent him an email to say how dare you broadcast these things, you're bringing the party into disrepute and you won't be critical of the party in future without running things past me first.
When Hardgrave continued to speak his mind, he had his membership suspended for two years. Since then the LNP has made a rule that no one in the media can hold office in the party.
But its critics point out that the LNP has made no such rule for property developers and claim the White Shoe Brigade can't wait for him to get into power.
McIver has also hit potholes with his campaign to make Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman the next Queensland premier. His efforts to find Newman a safe seat in parliament triggered an investigation by Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission into a complaint that McIver tried to bribe MP Bruce Flegg to step aside with the offer of a $400,000-a-year job as Queensland's agent-general in London.
Flegg did not vacate his seat and says he wasn't offered the post. McIver also denies charges, claiming it's a Labor witch-hunt. The commission announced in July it had found no evidence to support the bribery claim.
Newman, who resigned as mayor to be LNP leader, has been forced to settle for a seat held by Labor for 22 years where he will need a 7 per cent swing to win. But the gamble may pay off; polling in June showed he would win in a canter.
Despite all the internal strife, the LNP polled well at the federal election, delivering 21 MPs in Tony Abbott's 73-strong Coalition. And it should win the next state election comfortably, (it's due before June 2012).
One thing you can be sure of: the knives will be out for McIver if it doesn't. And there will be plenty of Liberals queuing up to stab him.