The Murdoch press is sulking after the election. The people on Sky After Dark say that the Liberal Party needs to go ‘right’ – whatever that means. It will take time to settle, but some things seem clear enough.
First, to people not committed to the Coalition, it is a relief that the nation rejected a government whose position was indefensible on two main issues – climate and integrity – and that had gone out of its way to insult half the nation – women.
Secondly, although the Murdoch people say that the Labor vote has gone down, what is clear is that a very large majority of voters have repudiated the government on the three issues campaigned on by the victorious independents. That suggests that the invitation to the Liberal Party to go ‘right’ is an invitation to suicide.
Thirdly, for a number of reasons, the reluctance of some Australians to vote ‘Labor’ has gone. The coalition has lost its shield of social class.
Fourthly, if the Liberal Party has not resolved its tension between its ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ wings, it has not lost its respect for the Menzies model – try to keep government in order, but look after the losers. That is the basis of what most Australians want. It follows – or it should follow – that disputes between the parties will be over issues of detail. And is that not as it should be? Don’t most of us know what we want? What is I think clear is that anyone in Australia saying ‘I reject the Menzies model’ would be putting a gun to their own heads.
Fifthly, one of our merits in Australia is that we reject ideology. The IPA is a sad relic. It looks now like we have rejected game playing – trying to game the system by winning votes on the fringe. John Howard did it with Pauline Hanson. Tony Abbott did it with the ‘carbon tax’ and Morrison was all over it – most objectionably with that nasty woman Deves, who was ushered around as a gagged dummy of vitriol. And the heir apparent, Dutton, is guilty of gaming in his silly but dangerous remarks about China. Those sorts of games delivered seats to independents and Greens. That is why a turn to the ‘right’ would be madness.
Sixthly, I hope that the Liberal Party will reject the Howard/Abbott/Morrison model and live decently with the Menzies model – and drop the Nats altogether. They are pungently unattractive and unhelpful relics. The country needs a strong, decent, coherent opposition’. People of my age know how useless the other side was in that role in the 50’s and 60’s when its purists thought it was better to be pure than to be elected.
Seventhly, there are real grounds for hope that the infusion of qualified women – those people that the frightened people at the Murdoch press condemn as ‘elites’ – together with people from other ethnic backgrounds will decently represent Australians and lead to an improvement in all levels of government. God only knows it could not get worse.
Election – ALP -Liberal Party – Howard – Morrison – IPA.