- “This is a fight for the heart and the soul of the Liberal party,” says one moderate MP. “These people surrounding Dutton – these people are not Liberals, they are not conservatives, they are fucking reactionaries, and I have nothing but contempt for them.”
That comment came from the end of Katherine Murphy’s remarkable article Turnbull shows no mercy as warring Liberals tear out the party’s heart and soul.
The issue that finally broke the Liberal Party open was climate change (see ‘Coalsheviks’ want to head renewable energy off at the pass, the tag Coalsheviks, and The die is cast – Turnbull chooses political power over the future of the planet and humanity.
Whoever becomes leader of the Liberal Party and hence prime minister until an election will face a National Party that insists on going full steam ahead on coal-fired power.
They already hold the infrastructure portfolio. I’ve heard that they now want energy as well.
However, the cleavage which has split the Liberal part goes deeper than climate change. Phillip Coorey reports that the Right-wing Liberals threaten to tear Scott Morrison apart. Julie Bishop would fare no better.
Clive Hamilton in How Tony Abbott Destroyed the Liberal Party sees climate politics as now carrying almost the entire burden of Abbott defending his view of the world. I think he is not paying attention. It goes to immigration and a wide range of policy areas.
However, Hamilton says:
- A reliable source told me that the Nationals keep a document signed by Turnbull promising that he will never support an emissions trading system.
It’s unthinkable that this demand would not be upgraded in any future Coalition agreement.
Turnbull has made reference to “intimidation and bullying” in the political process. He is certainly referring to sections of the media:
- Turnbull was speaking of enemies outside Parliament, Ray Hadley and Alan Jones from 2GB and News Corp’s and Sky News’ Peta Credlin, according to sources familiar with his thinking.
Katherine Murphy confirmed this on RN’s Breakfast this morning. This is the Daily Tele on Friday:
Turnbull also seemed to be fingering the Dutton camp. Threats are said to have been made over preselection.
Turnbull in deferring the shootout for a day, and in specifying that he needs 43 signatures to call a party meeting when party rules only require two is allowing reflection time, a chance for alternative candidates to make their case, and people having to be accountable to their electorates for bringing on the spill.
There are two other important conditions. Turnbull wants advice from the Solicitor General about Dutton’s eligibility under Section 44, a hand grenade that Labor have sat on since April, waiting for the strategic moment to throw it into the ring. Dutton has received over $5 million in subsidies for two childcare centres since 2010.It’s unthinkable that the SG will give Dutton a clean sheet – only the High Court can do that.
One scenario is that the GG may ask Dutton to clarify that little item before accepting his eligibility to serve.
Turnbull has also indicated that if he if turfed out he will leave parliament, and has indicated that it is proper that the electors should have a role to play.
On one hand this is Turnbull’s revenge. On the other, the process has revealed a deep cleavage in the Liberal Party, which can’t be papered over. Turnbull may believe that a stint would allow the space for proper reflection about what they have done, and more importantly, what kind of party they want to be.
Coincidentally, Radio National’s fearless philosophers Scott Stevens and Waleed Aly ask:
- When is one permitted to pronounce a fellow citizen or member of a political community ‘beyond the pale’ or beyond the reach of political communion? Can we ever truly say, ‘the conversation is over’?
They were contemplating a scenario when people holding alternative views are so egregious themselves as agents, beyond the particular views they hold, that communication with them is shunned.
Certainly this happened in the Obama presidency when republicans refused to approve anything emanating from the Obama presidency simply because Obama was Obama.
Now certain members of the Coalition are indicating their unwillingness to remain in the tent if certain other people are made leader.
I think the best way forward would be for a new moderate liberal party to emerge. A conservative ‘liberal’ party based on the ideas of Abbott, Abetz and Dutton would would almost certainly die on the vine, receiving little support from business and industry if a more moderate alternative were available.
Back to Katherine Murphy’s article, she has a particular view of the role of Matthias Cormann. I’ve just heard him explain the after the meeting on Tuesday four ministers came to him and said they had voted for Turnbull but had then changed their minds. A number of backbenchers did the same, making it clear that Turnbull no longer had the numbers.
Finally here’s the definition of a reactionary:
A reactionary is a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which they believe possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc.) that are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society. As an adjective, the word reactionary describes points of view and policies meant to restore the status quo ante.
Political reactionaries are predominantly found on the right-wing of a political spectrum, though left-wing reactionaries exist as well. Reactionary ideologies can also be radical, in the sense of political extremism, in service to re-establishing the status quo ante.
They are not given to tolerance or changing their minds, and hence are not open to rational discourse.
PS. SG has ruled that Dutton is “not incapable’ of sitting in parliament, while indicating that there is uncertainty.