Explaining the Liberal Mess – Part One

This post is going to concentrate on issues about the Liberal party of Australia, concentrating first on that of the Victorian Liberal Party followed but that of the Federal Party. It will be a six-part post, starting on the 31st of December 2018 and finishing on the 8th of January 2019. Enjoy.

The Victorian Liberal Party has historically been a force within the state, once holding power in the state from 1947 to 1982, with only a three-year gap between 1952 and 1955. A full 35 years in power creates a party that sees itself as the establishment, thus, making it more moderate due to its awareness of power. This can be seen contrasted to the NSW Liberal Party which spent many of its early years on the fringes of state politics becoming more feral.

That feral nature is now entering the world of Victorian Liberal politics, with the party having only held power for four of the last 19 years. That’s not to say those were a good four years either, the signs of a feral underground where bubbling to the surface with members of the Liberal Party openly calling their elected leader – Ted Baillieu – ‘Red Ted’ because he was too moderate.

Now, in 2018, this attitude has only grown more fervent. In the words of a NSW Young Liberal, “Our duty is not to listen to the people, but to sell to them why we’re better”. This comment came after I asked if the party appeared to be moving too far to the right and should return to the more popular middle.

That man, by the way, voted at the federal council to privatise the ABC; I’d argue he didn’t sell that policy very well.

The current Victorian Liberal party, that which entered the 2018 state election, was the creation of an unholy alliance between the party president, Michael Kroger and a rising member of the administrative committee called Marcus Bastiaan.

Marcus rose to power through the politically effective, but frowned upon method of ‘stacking’. He essentially signed up his church and other religious-right friends to the party and specific branches as to elect particular individuals to the all-powerful Administrative Committee.

Michael Kroger, fearful for his position, lurched to the right to appease the man that now held 13 of the 16 seats on the committee that has the power to decide everything from which federal candidates are preselected to policy, management… and who loses their job as president.

This resulted in a party room filled with demands for more right-wing policy, creating a place which would appear like Tony Abbott’s ‘Mind Palace’.

However, Marcus has now left the party on account of the health issues around a family member, though, cocaine is one reason some other members of the party propose is the real reason.

As such, more moderate members were left feeling ambushed (because they had been) and disgusted, because a party that some have spent their entire life a part of, has now all but disappeared.

At a Kooyong meeting, a man was given an award for 70 years of membership to the party… the party is only 74 years old. He has seen the days of Menzies and Howard; I can only imagine how disappointed he is.

Thus, we enter 2019 with a peculiar problem. Firstly, the Liberal Party lost many of their socially moderate members – John Pesutto, Graham Watt, Robert Clark – this has left the likes of Tim Smith and David Southwick in the party room. Secondly, the party has run a platform that has increasingly lurched to the right on many social issues, scaring away their traditional core base and causing many a member (not just myself) to question their place within the party.

Therefore, you’re left with less moderate members pushing a centrist agenda and more conservative MPs espousing a right-wing agenda. The cycle perpetuates itself until it either collapses inwards or some force externally crushes it. There are very few futures where the party appears to recover itself unless there is a mass awakening within the party, but, seeing as this election result has failed to turns enough heads – only removing some from office – it is unlikely we will see a Victorian Liberal government until 2030.

To Be Continued…


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