For many on the right the descending of the Liberal Party over the past week into bitter infighting has been saddening. Tony Abbott clearly still feels aggrieved that he was dumped by the Liberals only two years into his Prime Minister-ship and believes that he could have won the 2016 election. Many conservatives also feel aggrieved and do not trust Malcolm Turnbull to represent conservatives.
Tony Abbott, last week in addresses to the Institute of Public Affairs and Centre for Independent Studies, outlined an alternative conservative agenda which included freezing the renewable energy target at 15%, cutting immigration to ease cost of living pressures and consider renegotiating the submarine contracts to consider building nuclear ones. He also criticized the government’s passing of Gonski 2.0 as shifting the political goalposts too far to the left.
On the past weekend at a gathering of conservative Liberal Party members Abbott championed democratization of the New South Wales Branch urging them to “take our party back”. The media interpreted his comments as an attack on the dominant left faction of that state which includes key Turnbull allies such as Trent Zimmerman. Abbott didn’t slow down his public appearances as he was the keynote speaker at a Liberal branch meeting in Victoria for factional ally Michael Sukkar.
Turnbull responded subtly to Abbott’s remarks by stating that if he no longer is Prime Minister he will cease to be a member of parliament, which is code for if I am dumped as leader I will cause a by-election in Wentworth which the Liberals will lose and the Coalition will lose its majority. So far Turnbull hasn’t mentioned the fact yet that he donated $1.75 million of his own wealth to Liberal Party most likely as an insurance policy against getting dumped.
Conservatives are within their right to still be upset about the dumping of their preferred Prime Minister and his replacement being from the far left of the Liberal Party. But the big picture is still important. While the Turnbull government may be mediocre, a Shorten government would be disaster for Australia and would implement a radical leftist economic and social agenda. The Daily Telegraphy today gave us a frightening insight into what Shorten’s Australia would look like just 100 days in.
It should also be noted that conservatives have been able to gain some very significant policy concessions from Turnbull. He has held the line on same sex marriage, has proposed a bill to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, proposed tougher citizenship requirements and has spoken about maintaining the importance of coal fired power remaining part of the energy mix. He is still a leftist, as demonstrated by his placation of Islam and personal social progressivism, but if we can use him to get the outcomes we want what is the harm in that?
It is also worth pointing out that Turnbull’s actions with 18C, citizenship and energy are more conservative than what Tony Abbott presided over as Prime Minister. Abbott should know that while now he is proposing some meaningful policy, it is not consistent with what he did as Prime Minister and his actions overall are not helping the government’s hopes of re-election.
Changing back to Tony Abbott is not the solution to turning around the deficit in the polls. He only has a handful of supporters in the party-room anyway. Only stopping the infighting in the Liberal Party and presenting a united front is the solution. Should Malcolm Turnbull return Tony Abbott to Cabinet in a show of unity? Perhaps. There are still plenty of conservative MPs in the Liberal party-room to help keep Malcolm Turnbull in check and lurching to the left.
There are many conservatives who do desire the Liberal Party to lose the next election to teach them a lesson. This is throwing Australia under the bus, we as a nation cannot afford three years of a Labor government and cling to the hope that the Liberal Party can get its act together. What if they don’t elect and proper conservative such as Peter Dutton as their leader? Losing government would be all for nothing.
In the 2014 Victorian state election many conservatives wanted the Liberals to lose to punish them for going too far to the left. I was one who said that Victoria could not afford 4 years of a Daniel Andrews Labor Government simply to teach the Liberals a lesson. I have been proved right with Victoria now in the midst of a crime wave and Andrews presiding over radical social reengineering programs such as Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships. Nobody can argue that putting through the Victorian people 4 years of hell is the price of politics.
With Bill Shorten as Prime Minister same sex marriage would be legal, the borders would be flung open, free speech would be dead, the deficit blown out even further and the union thugs would be back in charge. There is nothing good for conservatives about a Labor government, we should all be working to prevent that outcome. Is the government not as conservative as we’d like? Of course, but I sure don’t want the alternative. The factions in the Liberal Party need to understand this and try to put aside their personal animosity for the sake of the Australia.