So, a jubilant Tony Abbott must have been a bit non-plussed when this new era of democratic preselections was thrown under a bus at the first available opportunity, essentially to preserve a numpty by the name of Craig Kelly who is nominally the member for Hughes in the federal parliament. Nominally because he seems to spend more time waffling on the Sky-after-dark Muppet Show than he does making a useful contribution to our parliament.
The base to which some appealed was confined to the tiny proportion of the population who are paid-up party members — some of whom, surveys suggest, indeed have views on issues such as crime, same-sex marriage and climate change that are at odds with majority opinion.
The broader constituency, however, Liberal Party supporters rather than activists, do not appear to respond to their concerns. Banks is likely more attuned to what drives this broader constituency in articulating a disgust with “the reactionary right-wing … coup … aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for an individual promotion, preselection endorsements or silence
“Their actions were undeniably for themselves, for their position in the party, their power, their personal ambition, not for the Australian people who we represent,” she said.
The Liberal Party is now so far adrift from majority opinion, and so hobbled by the most recent insurgency against Malcolm Turnbull, that a wholesale collapse appears to be inevitable.
Daniel Andrews is now the most powerful premier on the nation’s political stage, but there is one element of his ascendancy that we can be certain of; Dan Andrews will not forget the people who entrusted him with four years of stewardship of their state.
It is apodictic private money pours into Victoria to build electric cars and the next generation of clean, green renewable energy sources. Universities will thrive and hospitals strive to cure the sick, and the young taught about a future with endless possibilities.
I can almost hear Dan Andrews stand up in the Victorian Parliament and say the following, “I do not believe that the real life of this nation is to be found either in great luxury hotels and the petty gossip of so-called fashionable suburbs, or in the officialdom of the organised masses. It is to be found in the homes of people who are nameless and unadvertised, and who, whatever their individual religious conviction or dogma, see in their children their greatest contribution to the immortality of their race”. I can guarantee Andrews will not use these words, but he might be tempted to quote them to the legatees of Robert Menzies who, to their electoral peril, have grievously neglected the Forgotten People.
If you can be bothered, the text of Menzies’ Forgotten People speech is published here.
Apparently, in Abbott’s mind, he is going to be drafted back into the leadership ‘to rebuild the party’ after an election loss. The problem with this concept is that it seems that there is a cultural war going on in the Liberal Party within New South Wales. According to Fairfax
“The left and right tug of war that ripped apart the Coalition in Canberra last month is also playing out locally in the branches. In a carefully executed sweep through Sydney’s northern beaches and northern suburbs, moderate forces have spent the last three years overthrowing conservative incumbents.
In times as recent as Howard’s Prime Ministership, internal Liberal Party wars were kept internal. Now the warfare is open and nasty. How much longer can the Federal body keep warring sections of state branches inside the same tent?
The only saving grace is that the key perpetrators have revealed themselves to the broader public and, importantly, to their more gullible colleagues for what they are.
Politics has its share of these types. People who just want it their way all the time. And when that doesn’t happen they eat resentment for breakfast and dine on revenge. They put themselves ahead of the team. Always.
That’s been known about this little band, and it is little, for a long time. But now they’ve shown that this bitter diet has been like a cancer to their competence. They are seen as, among other things, inept and reckless and foolish. Their colleagues see it. The public sees it. It takes a special kind of stupidity to organise a coup that you don’t win, in a sitting week and in a government with a majority of one. If you can’t read the numbers in a small party room how can you read what’s happening out in the real world?
Implicit in much of the agitation of the past week is the idea that the conservative base has abandoned the Coalition for One Nation and must be won back by a shift to the right.
That has ominous overtones of Trumpian politics and more race-baiting.
Others, like Mr Joyce, argue it is as simple as making clear you understand the financial pain people are feeling on soaring energy prices.
Pollsters say a reading that Longman suggests the Coalition should move to the right would be completely wrong.
They say the potency of the company tax debate reflects the fact that, if anything, the push should be to the left: people are concerned about equity and getting a greater share of the pie.
Finally, there is the issue of personalities. Tony Abbott’s campaign against Malcolm Turnbull is relentless and this has meant it has kept shifting and morphing every time his apparent demands have been met.
So what happens next?
Abbott Threatens the Liberal Party
Craig Kelly, ” faces a serious challenge in his seat of Hughes from the Liberal party state vice-president, Kent Johns. Insiders suggest Johns, a party moderate, will have the numbers – which prompted Abbott to go into bat for the backbencher on Wednesday.
Abbott warned there would be no “harmony” inside the Liberal party if Kelly – his factional ally – was “rolled”.
“I think it would be a disaster for our party if Craig Kelly were to lose preselection, an absolute disaster,” the former prime minister told 2GB. “He has been a very good local member, he has been a very strong participant in all of our policy discussions, he has been a very good and vocal advocate for our position.
“The idea he should be knocked off, at this point in time … I just think that is the worst possible look.
“The only way we can win the election is if we have harmony inside our party and we sure ain’t going to have harmony if Craig Kelly gets rolled.”
But believing that the Liberal Party in its current forlorn state is able to act sensibly is probably about as smart as believing in leprechauns. It won’t happen; they don’t exist; there’s no pot of gold.
Michelle Grattan and Deep Saini discuss what’s been making headlines this week in politics.
Tuesday 7 February 2017 1 On the day that the Australian Parliament returns from its lengthy slumber Cori Bernardi decides to give the Liberal Party the flick and form his own, probably bank rolled by the plump lady from the West. Disaffected conservatives, or Liberals, will now have a choice of two ultra conservative leaders…
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has quickly dismissed a pair of contentious suggestions on Middle East relations from former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Peta Credlin has warned of a schism in the Coalition over a same-sex marriage plebiscite, predicting Senate moves to block the vote could cost Malcolm Turnbull the prime ministership.
Damien Mantach told police no one in the Liberal party raised red flags about his false invoices as he used holes in its financial system to siphon off money
Bronwyn Bishop’s preselection chances are dealt a blow, with Tony Abbott and Mike Baird writing references in support of a Liberal Party official expected to run against her.
Senior Liberal party figures and donors, including the party’s federal treasurer, have reaped multi-million windfalls from the former Baillieu government’s signature urban renewal project in inner Melbourne.
Tony Abbott’s immediate fate is to some extent in his own hands. As chair of the Liberal party room meeting he will decide whether the all-important “spill” motion is a secret ballot or a show of hands.
When the 102 Liberal MPs vote on the motion to declare the leader’s and deputy leader’s positions vacant on Tuesday, it can either be by secret ballot or show of hands. Party whip Philip Ruddock says without written rules, it is up to the leader to decide. “It’s Tony’s call,” he said.
The two West Australian MPs who will move and second the motion, Luke Simpkins and Don Randall, said they believed the spill motion should be voted on by secret ballot.
When Malcolm Turnbull faced his showdown as opposition leader in 2009 he asked former prime minister John Howard, who said it was up to Turnbull and Turnbull opted for a secret ballot.
The decision is important because it would put the ministry in a very difficult position. Voting for an unsuccessful spill would be a vote of no confidence in the executive of which they are a part. There are 19 cabinet ministers, 11 outer ministers and 12 parliamentary secretaries who owe their jobs to the prime minister.
Should the spill ballot be successful, the actual leadership vote would be by secret ballot.
Ruddock, the father of the house who entered parliament in 1973 told Guardian Australia he could not recall other examples of a secret ballot being allowed for a spill motion. But back in 2009 then opposition whip Alex Somlyay could recall two precedents for a secret ballot – in 1974 when Malcolm Fraser was trying to overthrow Bill Snedden and in 1989 when Andrew Peacock was stalking John Howard.
Abbott’s office said the voting procedures “remained unclear”, but senior Liberals said they would be surprised if Abbott tried to force a “show of hands” because he would want the ballot to be seen to be fair.
How many candidates stand could also be critical to the outcome. Abbott’s own surprise victory on December 1 2009, by a single vote, was due to Malcolm Turnbull recontesting, instead of standing aside. Unexpectedly Hockey was eliminated in the first round of voting and then Abbott won the subsequent ballot by 42 votes to 41.