Battle in National Party threatens Deputy Prime Minister

Photo from The Australian: Deputy PM Michael McCormack
Contributed from Victoria

It is now evident that the turmoil embroiling the Liberal Party, is also building in its coalition partner the National Party.

For now, it seems to be focused on its new leader and deputy prime minister Michael McCormack.

A part of the grumbling comes from the failure to push what powerful lobby of the party’s agricultural base, led by the National Farmers Federation is calling for. This is the bringing in of more overseas cheap labour to carry out seasonal work. The pay is already so low and conditions so brutal, that it is hard to get domestic labour to do it.

Most foreign Labour comes in from the Pacific nation under the Seasonal Worker Program and the Pacific Labour Scheme, and these nations have let it be known that they are extremely worried about the push for a new visa. Many workers from these islands depend on work in Australia to get by, and any threat to this source of income would leave them impoverished.

The push is to bring labour from other parts of the world.

Economists have warned of serious strategic consequences, if what is being demanded form this section of the National Party goes ahead.

Pacific nations are also angry that the Australian government had not even bothered to consult them when considering a change.

It would be an error of political judgment to at this time, go down this road and pick an argument with our neighbours.

A government in a survival crisis not need this headache before an election.

This has not stopped those who are pushing. One faction says that this is a move to undermine the authority of the leadership.  The other wants a change no matter what.

It is this approach that tells us that the division is about far more an agricultural work visa.

McCormack hasn’t helped himself, by first going one way and then another. That he has done so, reveals the pressure he is under from both sides.

It is highly likely that this argument is connected to the bigger battle over government’s overall direction. The National Party has also seen the rise of a radical wing, seeking to change the political climate, in much the same way as their counterparts in the Liberal Party.

When the party faces challenge from One Nation and independents in Many of its core bases, and rising disaffection among farmers, who increasingly see the National Party as not representing their interests, the radicals have an incentive to stir the waters. Their focus is not on the comingelection, but what comes after that.


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