The latest victim of Do-nothing Malcolm is the Liberal Party of Australia, via The Australian:
Fears are mounting within the Liberal Party that maverick South Australian senator Cory Bernardi is set to split from the Coalition to spearhead the new Australian Conservatives party, with an announcement expected in the new year.
The conservative firebrand and his “very close friend” Gina Rinehart met key members of US president-elect Donald Trump’s campaign team, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, in Washington last month, fuelling fears the senator might have the support of Australia’s richest woman to bankroll the party and dilute the Liberals’ support base.
Senator Bernardi is refusing to comment on his plans, but allies and colleagues of the outspoken conservative say a breakaway Trump-inspired movement is imminent and attempts are being made to convince him to stay within the Liberal Party.
…The threat of defection comes amid widespread alarm within the Coalition about the momentum and popularity of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party as voters turn away from the major parties in record numbers.
…“He is becoming more serious about this as people are losing faith in the Liberal Party and as he is losing faith in Malcolm Turnbull,” one senior Liberal said.
Another friend and ally of Senator Bernardi told The Australian that they were “very concerned” that he would quit early in the year and might attempt to lure other parliamentary colleagues to the party.
“I don’t think this is a flippant thing; this is now serious,” the ally said. “I am worried about it, and I will do everything I can to try to keep him in our tent.”
…One of his conservative parliamentary colleagues said Senator Bernardi had since “given up on Malcolm” to steer the party to the Right, but said most conservatives still believed the Liberal Party as the party of Menzies was their “natural home”. “However, I think a lot of people would be sorely tempted,” the colleague said.
…Mrs Rinehart, who took Senator Bernardi on a private charter flight to the Rio Olympics this year, recently called for the government to adopt the stimulatory policies being promised by Mr Trump, and praised the president-elect’s team for having “listened to the people of America’’.
“In addition to wanting to deliver secure borders, a safer country and less government debt, Trump’s team members advised that the president-elect wants to cut federal government tape by 50 per cent in his first months of office, and that he wants to cut company tax to 15 per cent. What a kickstart to the American economy that will provide!’’ Mrs Rinehart said in a recent speech. “If only we were hearing similar policies from our own government.’’
And from Domainfax:
The retired Independent Tony Windsor has launched an extraordinary spray, daring the conservative Cory Bernardi to do Malcolm Turnbull a favour and quit the Liberal party while urging the Prime Minister to “piss” and kick the outspoken Senator out of the party or “get off the potty.”
…MP close to the conservative Senator said they believed the South Australian had already made up his mind and would split from the Liberal party.
…Fairfax Media understands George Christensen is another Coalition MP considering his future over the weekend. When contacted late on Wednesday the MP said: “I am loyal to Barnaby, loyal to the Nationals, and loyal to local LNP members.”
But in an ominous sign for the future of the Coalition, he warned: “But the Turnbull government needs to start being more loyal to the voters who sent us here or there will come a time when remaining inside the tent is no longer tenable to my conscience or my voters.”
And a taste of what the new party might bring, also via Domainfax:
The battle to drag the Victorian Liberal Party to the hard right has escalated amid rising panic that One Nation are “in for a serious shot at a few upper house seats” at the 2018 state election.
Confidential emails from senior figures on the Liberal Party’s influential 19 member administrative committee warn that the party must undertake a “substantial and clear pivot back to the right” to win back voters being lost to One Nation.
And Fairfax Media has also obtained a private letter sent this week by pro-life campaigner Stephanie Ross, who is challenging 65-year-old incumbent Gary Blackwood for the state Liberal seat of Narracan, rallying supporters to “reignite the fire” to promote a socially conservative agenda and halt a push towards same-sex marriage and euthanasia.
“There is a state/nation wide push to bring conservative politics back into fashion!” the letter says. “People like Corey (sic) Bernardi in SA, Andrew Hastie in WA, George Christensen in QLD and Kevin Andrews in VIC are all fighting and need our backing.”
The call-to-arms letter has raised alarm at the highest echelons of the party. It is understood state Liberal director Simon Frost contacted Ms Ross on Tuesday night seeking an explanation after complaints from party members claiming it breached Liberal rules banning the circulation of material that could influence preselectors.
If the breach is found to be serious enough, Ms Ross could be prevented from challenging for the safe Gippsland seat, although some warn such a move would “stir up a hornets nest” in the party, inflaming tensions with the hard right.
Last week Fairfax Media published details of polling suggesting One Nation is now capturing 9.4 per cent of the state vote, compared to just 3.7 per cent for the Nationals and 32.5 per cent for the Liberal Party.
A confidential email sent by Paul Mitchell, the membership and branch development officer on the powerful Administrative Committee, warns that the rise of One Nation in Victoria is “deeply worrying” for the party.
“Indeed, I would say that the challenge of dealing with One Nation is of existential proportions for our Party,” the email from Mr Mitchell, who is an ally of president Michael Kroger, says. “We cannot have One Nation being a linchpin in our side, as the Greens are for Labor.”
OK, so the policies we might expect here probably include an echo of Donald Trump and the Tea Party:
- big corporate and wealthy tax cuts;
- big immigration cuts;
- progressive social policy rollback including attacks on 18c, abortion, any and all affirmative action etc;
- the budget outlook would probably be hawkish;
- I expect they’ll be China hawks and strongly allied to the US (though Rinehart influence would be interesting on this front);
- climate change skepticism, and
- given Bernardi’s recent embrace of MB economics, housing affordability!
It is rather tempting to see this through the prism Australia’s defining historical sectarian divide of Catholic versus Protestant. Those who know their history will recall that the last Catholic radicalism movement in Australian politics was the split from the Labor Party by B.A Santamaria and the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) during the Cold War, which was the not-so-secret force behind Robert Menzies Liberal Party rule for two decades, having divided the opposition vote.
Blind Freddy can see that contemporary Labor will be the overwhelming beneficiary this time around but it is still going to spark an incredible ideological bonfire that burns through traditional party alliances. After all, who will you vote for if you are passionate about social progression, housing affordability and lower immigration? Or, if you are passionate about the US alliance, housing affordability and higher immigration? So on and so forth.
There is also the question about how will any new party interact with, or absorb, One Nation.
It seems likely to me that the Right could atomise completely into a range of dislocated narcissistic loon ponds, which is only fair enough given its obsession with the individual.
That would leave Labor ruling the political centre of Australia unopposed which would be a bad outcome given its globalists may be off the hook. Labor desperately needs to address Australia’s immensely corrupt visa and immigration system if we are ever going to get the reform policies we need to raise standards of living.
This is obviously all speculation but bring it on, I say. It’ll open up all sorts of new debates and policy possibilities and is nothing more than Do-nothing Malcolm and his empty government deserves.