The writer is in Australia
THE least conservative Liberal (and National) government in Australia’s history lost last weekend.
There was no enthusiastic move to Labor. In fact, both major parties scored woefully low first preference counts. In any country with a first-past-the-post voting system both big parties would be reeling. There’s a reason why only Australia and one small South Pacific nation uses preferential voting: because it works as a protection racket for the two big parties.
The only way to show your displeasure with your own side of politics – because you can’t even stay home when there’s also compulsory voting – is to preference the other side. I did that this past Saturday, practising what I preached.
Clearly, more than a few others did too.
Now, you will not see this on the ABC or hear it from any of the Liberal ‘moderates’, but it was a very good thing having all those ‘Teal’ candidates (so called because they represent a voting base with conservative fiscal politics – blue is the colour of the centre-right Liberal party – combined with green views on climate) take out the inner core of the leftie-Lib gang – Zimmerman ‘I forgot about freedom once I was elected’ Wilson, Sharma, Falinski, and yes, even Josh Frydenberg (who I’m guessing was the driving force behind pushing Scott Morrison to sign up to Net Zero and to pay the ABC all that money just before the election).
These seats were always going to leave the column for any remotely conservative party. Many may not like that fact, but it’s already happened in Canada, Britain and America. Our voting system merely slowed it down here. The truth is that the rich (and I generalise of course) now vote solidly Left – maybe because they can afford to and like to virtue-signal? They vote more like Canberra public servants than anything else.
So in a losing election, it was good to lose these seats. Frankly, I don’t see them coming back for a long time.
Here’s an irony. If Morrison had refused to sign up to Net Zero and made rising energy prices and inflation an election issue, together with mining jobs, I think he would have won the election – this being the formula of Liberal wins since Tony Abbott took over as Opposition Leader. Instead, the Liberal Prime Minister, who seemingly had no core convictions and no strong commitment to freedom or to the presumption of innocence, let himself be pushed by the party wets into reneging on a promise made to Coalition voters at the last election in 2019.
By signing up to Net Zero, Morrison was snookered.
What happens when you purport to believe that there is an earth-endangering climate crisis (and former Obama Energy Department Undersecretary, Professor Steven Koonin, takes this apart in his new book Unsettled) and that Australia’s emissions make any difference at all, when the truth is that we could go back to the Stone Age tomorrow and China would pump out our emissions in a little over a fortnight? If you go down that road it’s not surprising that voters will vote for the real thing (in the shape of the Greens and Teals) rather than a half-hearted bunch of Liberal ‘moderates’. So the irony is that even for the so-called ‘moderates’, they would have had a better chance to win if the Liberals had stood up against the ABC worldview and not signed up to Net Zero. The appeasement strategy was never going to work, especially for them.
That said, I’m glad the Matt Kean-type faction of the Liberal Party has been decimated. Their one redeeming feature was supposed to be their commitment to freedom concerns (as the self-professed inheritors of the John Stuart Mill tradition), but the pandemic showed that to be a hollow lie. These moderates were at least as pro-lockdown and ‘we defer to the public health caste’ as the Liberal Party room’s conservatives. Make that more pro-despotism. And more big spending, big taxing, ‘let’s succumb to Modern Monetary Theory idiocies’. So good riddance to them all.
Yet the renewal of the Liberal Party was always a two-stage game.
First off, all of us conservatives were forced into needing our side to lose because it had accomplished basically nothing since Tony Abbott stopped the boats – nothing other than drifting ever further left every year. But there is a second stage. We now need to see the Liberal Party rediscover at least some of its conservative roots.
This is no sure thing.
If you look at the state level the Liberal Party is a mess. In Western Australia, in Victoria, in Queensland, even in New South Wales, it has opted to become the ‘we’ll be Labor but just a bit slower’ party, even to the point of embracing woke orthodoxies. Victoria’s incarnation is particularly risible. If you can’t beat the heavy-handed, despotic Dan Andrews – or barely manage even to criticise him on any freedom-related grounds – you are pathetic. And the Victorian Liberals are.
So this ‘let’s move left to try to win’ option is clearly one that is possible and that the ABC/Fairfax/‘moderate wing’ will be pushing. But it would be an awful mistake.
What we need now is for the Liberals to move a good ways to the right and to do so openly. Recant on the Climate Change genuflecting, admitting it was a mistake while pointing out the huge energy cost rises coming. Go back to arguing for sane budgets with surpluses (which will mean disavowing the Frydenberg uber-Keynesian, defer-to-Treasury approach). Openly commit to some sort of belief in freedom, one that will involve walking-the-walk not just talking-the-talk until you get elected into Parliament. And be tough against Woke shibboleths a la Mark Latham.
Down that path – and it will be labelled as Right-Wing Populism or as ‘the Trump Party’ by leftie journalists – lies victory.
We know this from seeing Boris Johnson’s voting coalition in 2019 and from seeing the 2016 and 2020 US Presidential elections. (And check out who won the married women’s votes in all three of those elections so you are armed against the bogus cry that ‘women won’t vote for this’.) Sure, the ABC will be brutal to the Peter Dutton-led Liberal Opposition. So will Fairfax. Who cares? We know you can win elections with virtually all the press against you. (See above re Boris and The Don.) You just have to believe in something and articulate it to the voters. The rich end of town now votes Left, remember, as does the journalistic caste. (Hillary Clinton won the 100 wealthiest counties by-the-by, and Boris gets pummelled in upmarket London boroughs.) Ignore them.
The Libs are going to have to stay committed for a year or so as the Jacinda Ardern-type honeymoon kicks in. But it won’t last long. Massive inflation and hard Left populist policies will see to that. It’s not going to be pretty. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a renewed conservative Liberal party win in 2025. That’s assuming, of course, that they opt to go down the conservative renewal path and not the ‘let’s be Labor and the Greens but just a bit slower’ one. Losing all those leftie moderates last Saturday makes my hope a lot more likely.