By Andrew Bolt ~
Forget strong government and forget whatever the Liberals are promising. The next Senate looks like being even more impossible than the last:
A record 15 per cent of voters plan to cast their ballot for a micro-party or independent candidate, with support falling for the Coalition, Labor and the Greens at the halfway mark in the election campaign.
The latest Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, reveals support for other parties and independents has jumped three points to 15 per cent in the past fortnight to be at the highest level for this group during a formal election campaign in the 31-year history of Newspoll.
Overall, a slight improvement for the Coalition, with the vote 50:50. As I’ve said for a couple of weeks, Labor just isn’t getting the traction it needs, particularly in the marginal seats.
The poll is yet another sign, by the way, that the conditions are ripe for the start of a new, moderate and non-Christian conservative party.
That is even more the case now that the Liberals are led by someone who seems not to have the courage of many conservative convictions. Greg Sheridan explains:
Ministers and government backbenchers are increasingly concerned at poor decision-making in the Liberal campaign, failures of co-ordination and the apparent unwillingness of Malcolm Turnbull to campaign on key Liberal issues such as national security.
The Prime Minister’s decision to tour a mattress factory on Thursday when the coffins carrying the remains of Australian soldiers killed in the Vietnam conflict were returned through the RAAF base at Richmond, in Sydney, has left some Liberals astonished, confused. They regard the politics of this decision-making as bizarre…
Without any overt politicising, the benefit to the PM of pictures of him welcoming home the coffins would have been very powerful. Many Liberals think any recent previous Liberal PM would have been there as a matter of course…
The other shocking national-security moment for many Liberals came after Attorney-General George Brandis called on Labor to disendorse Peta Murphy, its candidate for Dunkley, because she had opposed tough anti-terror laws and questioned whether al-Qa’ida’s Somali affiliate, al-Shabab, should be listed as a terror group. Questioned on Brandis’s stance, Turnbull declined to support him.
Even more astonishing to Liberal insiders, Brandis had co-ordinated his remarks with Liberal campaign headquarters and was encouraged to make the call. Partly because of the PM declining to back his A-G, terrorism has gone unmentioned in the campaign, despite terrorism-related arrests… [T]he PM’s apparent discomfort with national security, or unwillingness to campaign on it, has left Liberal silent on one of its strongest issues.
Similarly, Liberals are surprised at the campaign’s lack of significant mention of trade union corruption or the building industry.
Of course, part of the problem may just be Turnbull’s spite. He would be by nature reluctant to campaign on issues that Tony Abbott made his own.
Jennifer Oriel urges conservatives not to punish Turnbull, but what’s the harm in voting for more conservative Senate candidates while Turnbull declines to show the penance what she urges?
Turnbull’s plea for conservatives not to lodge a protest vote against him would be better expressed as an apology for giving them cause to do so.
The apology could be made by Liberal strategist Mark Textor, who celebrated the ousting of Abbott by treating conservatives with utter contempt: “The loss of disgruntled conservatives will be outweighed by the appeal of a more moderate party to swinging voters … The sum of a more centrist approach outweighs any alleged marginal loss of so-called base voters.”…
In large-enough numbers, a vengeance vote against the Liberals will punish party wets, but at what cost? A hung parliament will produce policy paralysis. Another recalcitrant Senate will prevent the passage of critical legislation and render the double dissolution an exercise in futility…
Conservatives too must choose between vengeance and grace in the upcoming election.
Still, the Liberals may at least be realising now that there’s a price to pay for treating its conservative base with contempt.
Andrew Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and The Advertiser and runs Australia’s most-read political blog. On week nights he hosts The Bolt Report on Sky News at 7pm and his Macquarie Radio show at 8pm with Steve Price.