An opinion piece by Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi is published in The Australian today:
Like a low-budget horror film featuring C-grade actors, Australian politics has entered the realm of the absurd. It’s not as if we haven’t seen this script before either. The Coalition is taking us through a repeat of Labor’s period of dysfunctional government.
Unfortunately the malaise within the Liberal Party is much more serious than that of its opposition. Without the structure to manage internal party disputes, Liberals face a continuing battle to re-establish what they actually stand for.
The Liberal Party was once the party of free enterprise, limited government, civil society, lower taxes and stronger families. Now it has become a shelter for those who don’t fit into Labor but still want to pursue a political career.
John Howard coined the phrase “a broad church”, but every church has a congregation of common belief. Regrettably, the Liberals have admitted too many whose only commitment is to attaining positions of personal power and influence.
Adopting Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson’s approach of “whatever it takes”, these apparatchiks have systematically broken down the conventions, policies and practices that have united successive generations of Liberals. Among the many who fit this profile, Malcolm Turnbull’s political career is validation of the thesis.
It is a matter of record that Turnbull originally sought preselection with the Labor Party, which wisely wasn’t prepared to make him an offer he thought befitting of his ambition. He then turned his attentions to joining the Liberals.
Defying convention, Turnbull organised a well-funded branch-stacking campaign against a first-term sitting member and gained preselection. On election he immediately undermined treasurer Peter Costello with a plethora of tax policies designed to highlight that he was the smartest man in the partyroom.Turnbull’s self-absorption was demonstrated by his request for a mention in Howard’s election-night concession speech. This was followed by a failed leadership tilt, the relentless white-anting of Brendan Nelson, plotting with Labor to introduce an emissions trading scheme and then the Godwin Grech affair.
When Tony Abbott was elected on the back of Turnbull’s failures, the jilted former leader was ruthless in his determination to tear him down and seize the crown back for himself. His co-conspirators were heedless of the long-term consequences of their actions as they sought personal advancement. As I mentioned at the time, the transaction cost of the coup d’etat would be paid by the party for many years to come.
Like a viral infection, this political guerilla warfare has invaded elements of the Liberal traditionalists, who are using the same brutal political techniques against the original host. The result is a party at war with itself and without a capacity for reaching a detente between the battling factions. It appears the virus has succeeded in changing the DNA of the Liberal Party.
This is a gift for Labor leader Bill Shorten. The Opposition Leader readily has embraced a divisive brand of identity politics that has gained traction in leftist parties across the world. He also has adopted the interventionist economic approach, with its commitment to big government and higher taxes beloved by socialists everywhere. He has been reduced to an Australian version of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders without the charisma.
Regrettably, the dysfunction in the government makes the perceived stability and platitudes of Labor appealing to large sections of the electorate. The soothing words of new-fashioned socialism warm the fuzzy minds of those embracing the politics of envy. Words are one thing, but it will be the actions of a Labor government dominated by a militant caucus that will do the real damage to the country.
Like Turnbull, Shorten is malleable on almost every policy front and it will be the left of his party that will do the hammering. Their agenda will surrender Australian self-determination to international bodies, cleave a united nation into race, creed and colour groups, stifle private enterprise in favour of government “enterprise” and force radical social change as they continue the long march through our institutions.
In government, Labor’s final capitulation to Chinese influence will become more evident. Its abandonment of Israel and thinly disguised anti-Semitic rhetoric will increase in shrillness while it compounds the economic attacks on working Australians.
The Australian people don’t like Shorten and I am not sure they are fully aware of Labor’s policy agenda but, regrettably, it is the only political game in town right now. The Liberal Party has squandered a five-year golden opportunity to advance the policy mix that has been a hallmark of its own history. It did so by surrendering principle to the politics of personality and power prima donnas.
The Australian people have lost faith in politics and politicians. After the 10-year political circus we have been exposed to, who can blame them?
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