Contributed by Jim Hayes
Although Peter Dutton’s challenge to Malcolm Turnbull was a personal tactical error, given the emerging controversy over funding of family connected childcare centres, it remains that his move represented nearly half of the Liberal Party’s members of parliament.
Following his resignation from his portfolio, nine other ministers offered to quit as well. So far, only Dutton’s and international development minister Concetta Fierravanti-Well’s resignations have been accepted by the prime minister. More of them may still go to the backbench.
This has ensured that Turnbull’s position has been further weakened. Arguably, he is only being saved for now, by Dutton’s own problems. But this is unlikely to last.
One thing is certain. The faction behind Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott is alive and well, regrouping and organising to achieve control. It has advanced considerably, nor only in the party room, but through the party organisation.
Would a capture by this faction make any real difference? It certainly would. Take the two current policies that have got it stirred up. Corporate tax cuts and carbon emissions policy. It wants big tax cuts immediately, plus no action on emission cuts and a headlong jump back into coal fired power generation. It feels betrayed by Turnbull’s failure to embrace this with sufficent enthusiasm. .
Turnbull’s error was to try and please everyone, pleasing no one, coming out indecisive and going nowhere. He has made himself look weak and this has been taken advantage of.
Behind it all, is that he is losing the support of the party’s principle big end of town backers, and in the Liberal Party, this is ultimately terminal. Conversely, it is the greatest strength that his enemies have.
For a government that must face an election next year, this is ominous. The likelihood is that it is going to lose.
It is also conceivable that the anti-Turnbull faction and its backers are counting on this. If it comes to pass, they will be provided with the best opportunity to remake the Liberal Party according to their own wishes. This would be a meaner political machine, aiming to take Australia to a new level of neoliberalism and further prepared to use a heavy hand to implement it.
If this new born Liberal Party becomes the government Australia will be left worse off. The big corporations will be looked after. There will not even be as pretence over reducing Australia’s carbon footprint. New measures will be brought in to further attack wages, conditions and the right to be a member of a union. Centrelink attacks on the unemployed, single parents, the disabled and age pensioners will go up to another level. Education and health care will have their funding cut and made more expensive, while a new wave of privatisation takes place.
The Australian economy will suffer. These policies have already been proved to be harmful and extending them is going to be even worse.
This is also the faction that has most embraced the politics of hate and other matters once the preserve of those parading with Nazi and other fascist symbols. It threatens the rise of fascism in Australia. And this is the closest to Rupert Murdoch’s dream for the future. We should think about this.
it is also possible that the Liberal Party will be wrecked, and out of the ruins emerge a new radical political party in this image.
The radical wing in the Liberal Party. Which extends to the National Party are a serious threat. Building opposition to this through broad based unity to defend democratic rights, is possible and must be pursued.