Liberal moderates may force a reformation on the broad church

Liberal moderates may force a reformation on the broad church, by Chris Kenny.

In the lead-up to the 2016 election campaign, I wrote about the dangers of the moderate ascendancy robbing the government of its defining strengths. “Liberal moderates are not, as they would have it, characterised by ‘compassion’ and ‘liberalism’ but largely by a default ability to concede their opponent’s arguments and retreat on tough debates,” I ­argued. “They are happy to sweep into office on the back of tough campaigning by an Abbott or a Howard, and accept the kudos for closing detention centres or welcoming extra refugees but often shrink from the difficult arguments and hard actions that ­enable those successes.”

And so it transpires. They tend to be “political leaners rather than lifters”. We know the Turnbull government did not campaign strongly and failed to attack Labor. It clung to power by its fingernails.

If moderates were chastened by that performance, they have not shown it. Turnbull lost the leadership when he insisted on trying to strike a climate and energy policy that Labor would support. Now Labor has adopted it. And Bishop is still promoting it. …

This is an escalating party crisis. Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison have all made mistakes, as have MPs moderate and conservative. But moderates seem eager to repudiate the government’s mandates from 2013 and 2016.