Malcolm hasn’t held back since losing his role as PM.
Malcolm hasn’t held back since losing his role as PM.

How the Libs became a basket case

COMMENT

FROM "broad church" to "brawl church", the Liberal Party has reduced itself to a collection of combative egos and self interests.

And it might not be able to eliminate its many divisions until all or most of those egos are extinguished or moved on.

All political parties are prone to this as individual ambitions and get-square projects overtake the need for unity.

But the Liberals are creating a problem of unprecedented dimensions as individuals put themselves above the party priorities and do it shamelessly in public.

Tony Abbott effectively forecast, probably accurately, the Government would lose the next election when he rated himself a future repeat prime minister.

He was not talking about after Scott Morrison won a couple of general elections. He was talking about taking the leadership from a defeated Mr Morrison next year.

Then there is Craig Kelly, member for Hughes, and Abbott acolyte.

 

Liberal MP Craig Kelly.
Liberal MP Craig Kelly.

 

Twice in roughly six months Mr Kelly has raised the possibility he would move from the Liberals to the cross bench if he was not endorsed as candidate for the next election.

Twice he has attempted a form of petty extortion to keep his job, demanding party intervention to save him rather than leaving the decision to his local party branch members.

In a similar way, we are now hearing warnings from Liberal Senator Jim Molan that he, also, cannot be taken for granted after being put in an unwinnable position on the Liberal ticket for the next election.

But most attention has been on member for Chisholm MP Julia Banks, who has left the Liberals to become one of seven on the cross bench in the House of Representatives.

She in part is protesting against "bullying" and the party's lurch to the right.

But let us not forget Senator Cory Bernardi who soon after the 2016 election not only left the Liberals, he set up a new party to compete with it.

Senator Bernardi was concerned the party had not moved far enough to the right.

The scattered personal priorities are frequently explained away as merely a congregation of differing views in what former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard called his "broad church".

However, there are two crucial differences.

 

‘What me, worry?’
‘What me, worry?’

 

Mr Howard would consider a range of views before making a decision.

Most probably he would then proceed with his original preference, but nobody could complain they had been denied a say.

That type of consultation and acceptance of the final decision has not been prominent in the past six years when the term "captain's call" was highlighted in the political lexicon, and an energy policy three times accepted by the party room could be undermined by a minority

faction.

The second difference is Mr Howard did not tolerate public attacks by one Liberal MP on another.

In the last few years the sight of Liberal Vs Liberal has been common.

The crucial deficit in the Liberal Party had been leadership certainty, and the reduced leadership authority that has caused.

Labor learned the lesson painfully from the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd instability. The Liberals still haven't drawn the same teaching from the Turnbull-Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison rotation.

If a leader is liable to be dumped, they can be defied, and discipline sacrificed.

Harking back to the Howard broad church is merely an attempt to disguise rampant rebellion