As I wrote in Catch-30 Part One, despite Malcolm Turnbull losing his 30th consecutive Newspoll this week, the Liberal Party have no desire to replace him as leader. In fact, there have been private lamentations from parliamentary members of the Liberal Party that it would be better for Turnbull to lose the next election, so that the Liberal Party can rebuild.
The additional difficulty in this scenario for the Liberal Party is that Turnbull is highly unlikely to stay in Parliament after being defeated. Like Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating, he will resign and trigger a by-election in his seat. Who would want to be leader, however? Sure, there are aspiring leaders, and some high-profile names have repeated the line of “I want to be Prime Minister one day” whilst pledging support to Turnbull, but once Turnbull is out of the Parliament, who are they likely to choose?
Peter Dutton, a former police officer and the MP for Dickson, has increased his public profile, and has boosted his credentials within the Liberal Party base, but despite being a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, he is not seen as hugely popular by the community at large. His strengths are in Law and Order, and Border Security, and his support for White South African farmers to be granted asylum, which are the rallying point for nationalists.
However, progressives hate him as much (if not more) than they hate Abbott and have already started maligning him in the media. Even GetUp has come out and said that they will be organising a campaign against Dutton in his seat, which he currently holds with 1.6%. That margin is dangerously thin for a prospective party leader, and while one might argue that if he were to suddenly become Prime Minister, the LNP would do everything to ensure he retained his seat, that does not guarantee stability for the Liberal Party.
Julie Bishop, a former lawyer, current Deputy Liberal leader and Foreign Affairs Minister, has a significant profile both in academic circles and the world stage. She can be persuasive when she speaks, and she speaks well, but given the effective poverty faced by most Australians today, her generosity in terms of increased foreign aid are viewed as more of a hindrance than a help, even among Liberal Party members.
While her seat of Curtin is seen as a “blue ribbon seat”, her “moderate” approach would likely be insufficient to mobilise the Liberal Party base, which has already been diminished by Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives, and (to a lesser extent) Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party.
Scott Morrison, the Treasurer since September 2015, received a Bachelor of Economics from the University of New South Wales, and has been a Member of Parliament since 2007, being elevated to the Shadow Cabinet in 2009 by Malcolm Turnbull. He is considered more conservative than some of his colleagues, especially during his stint as Minister for Immigration, but his affiliation with Pentecostalism could be troubling for some, even though he has said in the past, “The Bible is not a policy handbook, and I get very worried when people try to treat it like one”. His support for protections of religious freedom aside, he would face, like Tony Abbott, accusations of wanting to impose morality through law.
Regardless of who the Liberal Party decides to elect as leader after Turnbull is defeated, will any of them be able to make a difference? The policies of the Liberal Party may be better than those of the Labor Party, and certainly better than those of the Greens, but these policies have failed to deliver any perceived improvement to the lives of hard-working Australians. Australians are struggling to feed their families, to pay their bills, and to own their own home. What can be done to fix this?
Here are some suggestions:
- Spending must be reined in, especially the wasteful spending on welfare for non-citizens, which costs more than $12billion per year for starters;
- Halt immigration for a ten year period so that we can get our unemployed people into productive employment, and by productive employment, I mean more than just a few hours a week;
- Retake control of our utilities and utility infrastructure. That way, we will be able to reduce the cost of energy for households;
- Guarantee energy security, by (at the very least) developing our Natural Gas reserves, and expanding the infrastructure;
- Create a new Australian Infrastructure Fund (which can be started with the savings made from ending welfare payments to non-citizens and wasteful spending as in Suggestion #1);
- As per Suggestion #5, develop Transport corridors and infrastructure, so that we can end the bottlenecks in our ports, and more importantly, enhance the logistics of carrying food and resources;
- Create a new skills training program for those who have lost their jobs in manufacturing due to the departure of manufacturing companies from our shores. This will allow anyone who wants a job to be trained, and then employed, on building infrastructure, and reviving our manufacturing sector. This also involves guaranteeing resource security by developing our own refining capabilities;
- After the budget is finally balanced, we must develop our military strength to better defend ourselves in the event of a war. With China leasing a base in Vanuatu (and several ports throughout Southeast Asia), we must remain vigilant, and we must prepare ourselves;
- As per Suggestion #1, reduce the excessive superannuation benefits and allowances for politicians. It’s just common sense that while the working poor are struggling, politicians should freeze their pay, and set an example. Politics used to be considered a public service, but over the last 20 years, people have become cynical about politicians; after all, when the people’s lives barely improve, there will be some envy of the elites;
- As per Suggestion #4, develop our Thorium reserves to provide safe and clean energy. With the amount of energy generated, we will be able to power our nation comfortably whilst reducing our Greenhouse Emissions.
The list is not exhaustive, and there are a lot more problems to solve than the problems noted above, but adoption of this platform in its entirety will help rebuild our nation, if only the Liberal Party could return to being the party of Menzies, and not the party of professional hacks.