Abbott to the Rescue of the Australian Liberal Party

Abbott to the Rescue of the Australian Liberal Party, by Christopher Carr.

In South Australia, the change of government notwithstanding, no single party could be described as a genuine winner. The relatively poor performance of the minor parties — Nick Xenophon’s SA Best, Greens, and Australian Conservatives — enabled the Liberals to secure a lower house majority despite falling some 7% short of their primary vote at the previous state election. …

Steve Marshall’s emergence as premier is not so much a win for the Liberal Party as it is a victory for the mainstream centre-right over what proved less-than-viable competitors. …

The Australian Conservatives’ failure to meet predictions and expectations is another matter. Senator Cory Bernardi attracted large crowds of disillusioned Liberals and right-inclined voters at meetings conducted around Australia during 2017. Nationwide, more than 15,000 Australians joined the Australian Conservatives. Yet among voters at large, the party seems to have gained little traction. …

Why the gulf between great expectations and the anti-climatic thud of tally room numbers falling way short? Well, by my reckoning, Tony Abbott must take much of the credit for keeping conservatives inside the Liberal tent.

Tony Abbott

Let me explain: against furious opposition from the NSW party’s “moderate” power brokers, [Abbott] secured passage of the so-called Warringah Motion which aimed to ensure all members of the Liberal Party have an equal say on the selection of parliamentary candidates, an initiative endorsed by a large meeting of rank-and-file party faithful at Randwick Racecourse. At a subsequent meeting of the Liberal Party State Council, the faction bosses staged a partial fightback, failing to realise that Tony Abbott and his fellow conservatives had saved the Liberal Party from a mass walkout by giving ordinary branch members hope that the cronyism, branch-stacking, general deviousness and Labor-lite policies of the current NSW regime are not beyond reform.

Far from being the disruptive and divisive force, as so often depicted by the lockstep thinkers on the left who opine for the ABC and Fairfax Media, Abbott and his fellow conservatives in the Liberal Party continue to provide a conservative ballast against the further heeling to port of the ship whose bridge Malcolm Turnbull and his minions seized and still control. Much as he might wish, Turnbull cannot cast himself in full measure as the antipodean Angela Merkel. In this regard he owes Abbott a great debt for saving him from his own worst impulses and instincts.

The more Abbott, Molan, Andrew Hastie and others continue to speak out, the more irrelevant any rival party on the right, such as Bernardians and Hansonites, will remain.

hat-tip Stephen Neil