The Liberal Party, under Dutton, is completely out of step with modern Australia and it is no surprise that it is rapidly imploding.
Some commentators credit Peter Dutton with the destruction of the Liberal Party, but Dutton’s brand of Far-Right hate is hardly special and it certainly isn’t new to his party.
THE RIGHT OLD LIBERAL PARTY
The facts are that the Liberal Party’s lurch to the far-distant depths of Right-wing politics began during the '90s, so if anyone should claim credit for the inevitable destruction of the Liberal Party, it’s probably John Winston Howard.
It’s true that Dutton is holding firm to the Coalition’s core policy framework, rooted as it has been in fear, hate and otherness, which helped to get Howard elected an inexplicable four times. And yes, this essentially unchanged platform also helped propel Abbott and Morrison into power, with a short stint from the not-quite-as-Right Turnbull thrown in.
But this extreme Right-wing stance was not really in full view until Morrison took it to new evangelical heights and displayed its glory for all to recoil.
Dutton, then, is at best maintaining the fear and hatred and, of course, he could choose to heed the lurid red, blinking, neon signs that emerged from the Federal Election, all the mainland state elections and the Aston by-election, instead. But Dutton can hardly chalk up as an achievement on his resume, the Coalition’s current unelectable position, for this is clearly something that he is only nurturing.
And, it needs to be said that the cold hard facts simply don’t support Peter Dutton as capable of engineering ruination as thorough and absolute as that which is now happening to the party he happens to lead.
Certainly, Dutton's openly racist stance on The Voice to Parliament and his attempt to coerce a no-vote within his party isn't helping things, especially since those few Liberal MPs who disagree with him, such as Julian Leeser and Bridget Archer, are prepared to be vocal about it.
But this inevitable decline has not happened overnight. While the Liberal Party has remained stagnant since Morrison's spectacular Federal defeat, three key things have changed and none of them can be specifically attributed to Dutton.
One is that Australia changed dramatically prior to this time. Australians have been crying out for considered policy on climate change, gender equity, marriage equality, Indigenous rights and many other areas in urgent need of change. But the Liberal Party, meanwhile, assumed its default position on all these things and pretty much everything else.
The only notable movement within the Coalition occurred during Turnbull’s tenure, with the “achievement” of marriage equality. But even this only happened after a bitter, protracted battle culminating in the same-sex marriage plebiscite, after which the Coalition was dragged – many kicking and screaming blue murder – into the 21st Century on but this one issue.
Of course, it was Howard yet again who caused this problem for the country when, in a calculated 2004 move to prevent gay marriage and without community consultation, his Government quietly inserted a clause into the legislature that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Thus, the passing of legislation to overturn this discriminatory law became necessary. So, while it can probably be termed an achievement of sorts for Malcolm Turnbull, it can hardly be defined as a Liberal Party achievement by any means.
The second change since Morrison's exit is the emergence of a strong contingent of smart, credible and informed independent candidates, ready to take on and represent the political centre — where Liberal votes now go to die.
And the third change involves a generational shift away from traditional information sources and towards social media and indie publications, such as this one. This has happened, despite the best efforts of Australia’s Murdoch-led mainstream media cohort and quite possibly, in spite of them. And it has happened irrespective of ten years of Coalition governments strengthening the stranglehold of media giants such as News Corp and Nine.
It is this third development that has had the most profound influence on public awareness.
OLD NEW LIBERAL PARTY
In the meantime, the Liberal Party has been oblivious to this change and, as former Liberal Leader John Hewson summed up:
'...[became] some exclusive little club that believes it was born to rule. It lost these elections because it was off the pace in almost every respect. Its members have been tone-deaf on almost every issue.'
It is the progressive change in the way Australians inform themselves that has brought into sharp focus the Liberal Party's blatant disregard of voters' concerns, against the will of the independent candidates, the Greens and the Labor Party to offer considered policies on these issues.
And it is because of this development that Australians have finally become aware that the supposed “broad church” approach of the Liberal Party is, in reality, an extremely rigid church, opposed to many, if not all, of the things that Australians value. This is the reason mainland Australia turned red.
Peter Dutton is merely the small-minded gatekeeper of all the reactionary, retrograde philosophies of a bygone Australia, ensuring the Liberal Party remains unelectable for a generation.
- Slow implosion of Liberal Party accelerates under Dutton
- Dutton determined to revive the Liberal Party election machine
- Lack of media scrutiny helped the Liberals lose their way
- Perrottet’s Sydney-centric stance sums up Liberals' elitist worldview
- Liberal Party little more than a factional fight club
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