Australian Politics – Chairman Mal Marches The Liberals To The Left

Posted on Mon 10/26/2015 by


Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~

Where it says Liberal Party here, The Liberal Party of Australia is the major party on the Conservative side of the political divide here in Australia, and the party with similar political leanings in the U.S. is The Republican Party…..TonyfromOz.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is winning in the polls. But is the new Prime Minister in danger of losing his party?

Is he already moving the Liberal Party too far to the Left?

chairman_mal_thumbSome conservative Liberal MPs were already worried enough last week to send Turnbull public warnings, and their fears would have been confirmed by his extraordinary interview at the weekend with the Sydney Morning Herald.

Let the words of his starstruck Herald interviewers speak for themselves:

“[Turnbull] wants to change the way the country works … Most profoundly, he wants to change the culture; the culture of government, the culture of politics, the culture of business. Even the way Australia presents itself to the world.

“He cites the founder of modern China, Mao Zedong, in a famous declaration attributed to him in the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 when he said: ‘The Chinese people have stood up!’

“And Turnbull adapts it for Australia: ‘Modern China is built upon an assertion of national sovereignty. And that is why we say to China, ‘The Australian people stand up!’, repeating it in Mandarin.”

Quoting Mao? Dreaming of remaking our culture? Believing he will lift Australians from their knees to their feet?

Er, is Turnbull channelling Kevin Rudd and Gough Whitlam?

Maybe, because he even promised the same kind of big government investment in infrastructure that Rudd notoriously gave us with the national broadband network: “We should be prepared to actually invest as opposed to simply making grants.”

Oh dear.

Or as a former senior Liberal leader texted me: “WTF?” I am gobsmacked and predict that he is going to cause huge division within the party and a rift with the Nationals.”

Now, a word of caution to Turnbull’s critics. Turnbull today is the Rorschach blot of politics.

He does little and promises nothing — everything is “on the table”, he repeats — and warriors on both sides of politics read into his generalities what they wish or fear.

The Left see their saviour, conservatives their nemesis.

So maybe Turnbull is just the victim of projection by his purple-prosing admirers on Fairfax, who badly want him to be the healer who will cleanse the Liberals of its “hard Right”.

But even before that interview, Turnbull had set off alarms within the party.

Even one of Turnbull’s assistant ministers, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, felt obliged to issue a public warning in her National Press Club speech last week.

“As the senior conservative from NSW, I have spent a lot of time talking to our base,” she said.

The party’s NSW members were “mostly conservative” and “many are devastated by the (leadership) change, some have left and many have threatened to down tools.

“We rely on a volunteer base, mostly of older members, some who have simply had enough.”

Another senior conservative, Senator Eric Abetz, protested last week when he’d heard Turnbull had discussed a proposal to hurry on a vote of MPs on same-sex marriage.

“It is important that the conservative view of the party, which, if I might say represents the overwhelming base of the party, is appropriately represented and listened to,” Abetz warned.

Another conservative MP says he is still holding his fire — “but the time will come, probably sooner than later”.

So what has alarmed Turnbull’s internal critics? What makes them fear he is already dragging the party too far to the Left?

Well, here is just a partial list. In just one month, Turnbull has:

BANNED an American anti-abortion activist from giving lectures;

INITIALLY whitewashed the Islamist murder of Curtis Cheng as “politically inspired”, rather than religiously;

DROPPED his support for reforms to the Racial Discrimination Act to allow more free speech on the politics of “race”;

OPENED discussions on more taxes, particularly on superannuation;

SCRAPPED the proposed $4 million consensus centre of renown academic Bjorn Lomborg, attacked by Leftist academics as a global warming “denier”;

SOFTENED the Government’s opposition to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, charged with investing $10 billion in global warming schemes; and

ANNOUNCED a bid to run for a seat on the discredited United Nations Human Rights Council.

Turnbull’s team even praised ABC chairman Mark Scott, whose publicly funded media behemoth declared war on the Abbott government.

To make this seeming drift worse, Turnbull is refusing to risk his popularity to fight for things that matter, and not just to Liberals.

Last week, for example, he gave in to a campaign by public service unions against the Abbott government’s offer of a 1.5 per cent pay increase. The offer was raised to 2 per cent to buy peace.

Of course, there’s a danger in reading too much into these moves.

For instance, Turnbull is right to argue there’s no point in repeating Abbott’s mistake. Why fight for legislation with no hope of passing a feral Senate controlled by Labor, the Greens and populist crossbenchers?

Changes to the Racial Discrimination Act would never get through. Nor would Abbott’s planned cuts to the family tax benefits. Far better to cut a deal where possible and just move on. That’s smart. That’s what the public wants.

Yet Turnbull seems particularly unwilling to fight for anything that might cost him the love of the Left.

At the weekend came a perfect example.

Turnbull told The Australian he wanted to push again for what the Senate has twice blocked — the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the tough workplace cop killed off by the Gillard government.

There couldn’t be a better time to try. The royal commission into union corruption has now exposed widespread malpractice by the most militant building union, the CFMEU.

It has also crippled Labor leader Bill Shorten by investigating his own dodgy deals as a union boss.

Yet Turnbull still won’t risk war for something important to his base and to business.

He merely said he’d be “very happy to talk” to Shorten and the union movement about his plans, but wouldn’t waste Parliament’s time if it seemed the Senate would say no.

Sure enough, Shorten took just hours to say that no: “Stop obsessing with trade unions.”

So now what, Prime Minister? Will you only fight for what Labor likes? In that case, conservatives get nothing.

Of course, Turnbull is right again not to worry too much.

First, his way is working. He’s ahead in the polls.

And, second, who else would conservatives vote for if not the Liberals?

Yet that’s not the full story.

Some Liberals are in politics not just for power but for principles and policies.

They won’t fight for a Liberal Party that seems more like Labor.

In fact, some might rather Turnbull lose so they can regain their party and get it to fight for what counts.

Besides, if Turnbull’s polls do one day slump and the media Left swings back to Labor, who will Turnbull get then to toot his trumpet?

Oh, and never rule out the creation of a new conservative party, at least in the Senate.


Well, let Turnbull keep going like this. We’ll see, won’t we?

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

Read more excellent articles from Andrew Bolt’s Blog .