Contributed by Jim Hayes
The Liberal party is showing signs of unravelling. The list of resigning members of parliament is telling. Christian Porter, Tony Smith, Troy Bell, and Scott Ryan come to mind. At the state level in NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, and West Australia, it’s the same story. Members of parliament are quitting in numbers not seen for a very long time. Mostly because they have become awkward problems for the Liberal Party.
Others are quitting because they are dissatisfied with factional selection procedures or don’t like the drift towards Trump style politics of hate.
The Liberals are heading a government in decline. The odour of corruption and other bad behaviour, such as the treatment of women, are undermining its legitimacy. There have been the disastrous vaccine rollout and the exposed failure on climate policy.
There are the ongoing spats with their National Party coalition partners.
Australia’s view of the nation’s political leadership
And the role of Rupert Murdoch should not be discounted. His media empire has been repositioned to undermine Scott Morrison and his government. Morrison and his team are now seen by their mentor as damaged goods and may be about to pull the rug out from under their feet. Whether Murdoch will go all the way or not is not yet clear.
As the saying goes, ‘the rats desert a sinking ship’. The sense of decline hammers morale and faith in the leadership. Those who believed start to lose faith and the number leaving can snowball. Losing the next federal election will be a major blow to the Liberal Party.
A political party declines because it is no longer in tune with the situation and drives a wedge between itself and its political base. This can be papered over and attention diverted for a time through fear politics. We’ve had plenty of this, and it’s now wearing a little thin.
To make it plain, the most basic problem is failure to deal with the multi headed crisis facing Australia.
The economy is going backward with little sign of significant improvement. Living standards, especially for the younger, are starting to go south. Despite claims to the contrary, real jobs are in decline and casualisation of those that remain rise. Housing unaffordability and mounting personal debt are reaching a critical point.
The Morrison government has obviously failed to put as dent into any of this, and this more than anything else, is polarising society.
Australia wants much more done to reduce carbon emissions and the Morrison government is standing at odds with this. There is a rising unease over the prospect of being led to war through the relationship between the Australian government and that of the United States.
As the familiar starts to fade, society is marked by uncertainty. There is fear over what the future may bring. has made it worse. Most Australians see that the political leadership doesn’t care about them, and they are losing trust in traditional politics, although only a few see an alternative. But they do see that the fat cats are being looked after. They sense that inequality is on the rise in Australia.
Labor is having difficulty in getting its message through and comes out looking directionless and a soft version of the Liberal Party. To be fair, part of this has been its lack of access to usually hostile media. It must also be admitted that playing the game of political bipartisanship and the tactic of providing a small target, may be behind a failure to make a connection with the dissatisfied.
Despite this Labor does have a chance of winning next year if the standing of the Morrison government continues to fall. Much more if Murdoch decides to get rid of. Whatever the reason, the end of the Morrison government would be good for Australia.
Next year’s federal election may prove to mark a new level in the decline of the two-party system. In the short-term this may benefit Labor, especially if it secures Murdoch’s support. The longer-term prospect is further political polarisation, as the middle ground gives way.
We can expect the Liberal Party, with fewer of its moderate wing remaining, to be remodelled further along the lines of an Australian version of Trumpism.
Winning government could be problem for Labor, it is fails to deliver on expectations. In today’s conditions of a more volatile electorate will pull away. Labor is vulnerable to much of the media, and specially Rupert Murdoch’s. They will exert tremendous pressure against change to the status quo.
The danger is that a Labor government may not last long and pave the way for something worse than the Morrison government. There is an answer. Putting an end to the Morrison government through the ballot box is not enough. Developing the conscious will within the population to ensure that needed change take place is necessary. It is building the capacity to mobilise big numbers will ensure this.