Alan Austin examines the deep-rooted factional grievances within the Coalition that threaten the stability of the newly elected Turnbull Government.
NEVER has there been a more divided political entity in Australia than the Coalition today.
That was established in April. Since then, divisions have increased in both number and intensity.
Never has the nation suffered so badly from internal conflict — with racism openly supported, the economy slipping further and further down the global ranking, social cohesion crumbling, the disadvantaged further pushed to the margins and Australia’s once proud international reputation trashed.
And yet the Turnbull Government has won another term. This is a monumental tribute to the Canberra press gallery’s success in concealing reality.
The latest Coalition spats bring to 70 the number of serious divisions. These are not the normal, healthy divergences of opinion on policy detail but fundamental conflicts which hinder effective government.
70. Bernardi’s new right wing alliance
The most serious of the current rifts is Senator Cory Bernardi’s new right wing grouping, which may yet become a political party. He is calling together the far right parties, including the Australian Liberty Alliance, the Christian Democrats and others, as well as disgruntled hard right Liberals and Nationals.
Bernardi emailed supporters last week:
'The election result should be a wakeup call to the Liberals. Conservatives cannot be silenced or ignored. If the solution means that I ought to break free of the Liberal Party and completely sever my grip on reality, then so be it.'
69. Homophobia in the Liberal Party
The ruptures between conservatives and mainstream Liberals on homosexuality and same-sex marriage were publicly revealed last month in Bernardi’s angry response to Turnbull’s innocuous comments on ABC’s Q&A program.
Asked if he had confronted Bernardi over his homophobic views Turnbull replied,
“I have had firm discussions with a number of colleagues. Yes.”
Bernardi repudiated this in another angry blog spray.
68. Loyalty to Malcolm Turnbull
An attack this week by an anonymous Liberal MP reported in the Murdoch media asserted:
'His (Turnbull’s) theory was to win and win comfortably so the conservatives would all have to kneel at the altar of Malcolm Turnbull; well, I think someone else will be kneeling at the conservative altar now.'
“Without their name, it is just cowardice ... I am not going to respond to cowardly statements in the press from anonymous sources who haven't got the strength of character to put their names to those kinds of flowery statements."
67. Economic direction
"In that period when we were putting things on and off the table and the electorate formed the opinion, 'well if you ... people, don't know what [you] are doing, that's a problem ... The electorate got a view that we didn't have a clear idea of where we wanted to take the country in terms of the economy."
The tax cut for big business has critics inside the Coalition as well as outside.
66. Superannuation tax changes
Turnbull insists the pre-election policy shift is "fair" and "long overdue".
65. Backpacker tax
Official Coalition policy on working holiday visas has been condemned by MPs who want it scrapped. Its introduction has been pushed back six months and another review scheduled, exacerbating uncertainty among primary producers.
64. Asylum seekers
The Coalition’s inhumane policies are regarded with disgust not only by the watching world and most enlightened Australians but by Liberal Party members as well.
This sorry series of sordid splits began in December 2013, just three months into the new administration, when IA documented the first 17 areas of internal dissent. Those were:
17 First areas of internal dissent
63. Same sex marriage
62. Cabinet solidarity
61. The Liberal club
60. Ministerial portfolios
59. Order to sack family members
58. Honouring Gary Humphries
57. MPs marginalised
56. Peta Credlin’s power
55. Travel rorts scandal
54. School funding fiasco
53. Grain Corp sale
52. Holden closure
51. Badgerys Creek airport
50. ABC and SBS funding
49. Wage levels
48. Relations with Indonesia
47. Northern development
This was followed in January 2015 with the 33 areas of dissent which emerged through 2014:
33 Further areas of dissent
46. Saving SPC
45. Independence of the ABC
44. Lack of vision within the Coalition
43. Punitive 2014 Federal Budget
42. Cutting science funding
41. Brawl over Liberal Party constitution
40. "Dictatorial, tyrannical powers" over lives of asylum seekers
39. Abbott’s doomed paid parental leave scheme
38. Libs ‘played the Nats’ over Fuel excise
37. Abbott’s sexism and misogyny
36. Stacking the ABC with Liberal Party supporters
35. Hockey v Turnbull trust failure
34. Bypassing Senate funding process
33. Divisive Team Australia rhetoric
32. Abbott’s inept anti-terror response
31. Backflip on abolishing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
30. Hockey’s arrogance towards the poor
29. Decree that telecoms keep metadata for two years
28. Six months wait for youth welfare payments
27. Renewable energy target
26. Federal independent commission against corruption
25. ANU divestment of fossil fuel shares
24. NSW election preselections
23. Burqa ban dispute
22. Asia Pacific infrastructure investment bank brawl
21. Liberal/National split on direct climate action
20. Appointing Scott Morrison to social security
19. Australia’s capacity to build naval vessels
18. Julie Bishop’s delegation to Peru climate conference
17. Industrial relations and reinstating Workchoices
16. Drought assistance
15. Cutting the Medicare rebate
In April this year, IA documented another 12 areas of damaging division:
Another 12 areas of division
13. factional fighting over federal pre-selection
12. Climate change denial
11. Allocation of funds to regions
10. Shifting the tax burden from the rich to the poor
9. Health care funding
8. Relentless increase in government borrowing
7. Failure to curb government spending
6. Melbourne to Brisbane high speed rail
5. Banking inquiry
4. Backing former PM for the United Nations top job
3. Rural property sell-off
2. Tougher competition laws
1. Selling off Fremantle port
That’s an even 70. A house divided against itself cannot stand, declares the ancient wisdom. Unless, of course, those charged with reporting what is happening in the house are working flat out to hide it.
This increases the urgency – among those committed to effective government – of boycotting all mainstream media and advancing the truthful alternative press.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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