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Disunity is death and the Liberals have it in Buckets

From memory John Howard was the first to say, “Disunity is death” when referring to political parties, although just about everyone in politics says it now. And, as it happens, the Liberals have buckets of it.

If you read Mike Seccombe’s column in the The Saturday Paper this week you will get some idea of what is going on behind the scenes inside the Liberal Party and none of it is good news for Malcolm Turnbull.

Remember Malcolm Turnbull’s statement to the NSW State Council of the Liberal Party back in October when he said, “We are not run by factions”? The statement was greeted with jeers and laughter. And for good reason.

The Liberal party has so many factions, it has factions within factions.

Senator Bill Heffernan is one who disagrees with Turnbull’s view. “You can’t get a cleanskin up in this party anymore. Unless you’ve bared your arse to the factional warriors you have no chance,” Heffernan says. “The factional thing, as in the Labor Party, has become a business.”

Heffernan is happy to recount one incident, “In NSW the executive election before last involved 500-odd people from state council – two people from each branch and federal and state electorate conference,” he told Mike Seccombe.

“Half of the ballot papers sent out were collected from people before they were filled out. The factional warriors filled them out. Eighty-two of the ballot papers that were filled out were whited out and redone after they were collected. That’s how crooked it is. I got up at state council and said half the people in this room are gutless. You haven’t got the guts to fill out your own ballot papers.”

What are these factions? One unnamed source within the party told Seccombe there are, “the moderates; the centre right, led by Alex Hawke; the hard right, split between the realistic hard right, led by Dominic Perrottet and Anthony Roberts, and the terrorist hard right, so extreme they are prepared to tear the house down; then there is a small but vocal group led by Jai Rowell and Matthew Mason-Cox, who recently defected from the hard right to align themselves with the moderates.”

Just so you don’t forget, this is the Liberal Party we are talking about. All too often we hear about the factional interests of the Labor Party but until now, not much more than a whisper about the same bully-boy tactics and head-lopping going on in Liberal corridors.

At the moment, most of the factional warring is over pre selection of candidates for the upcoming federal election. As we all know there’s a lot a deadwood entrenched in blue ribbon, Liberal held, safe seats and a number of keen younger candidates are seen by others as ready to step up.

Without digging too deep we can easily ask why sitting members including Bronwyn Bishop, Eric Abetz, Phillip Ruddock, Bill Heffernan, Kevin Andrews and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, are still there. And Craig Kelly is apparently, “a bit of a dolt” as well, according to one faction chief.

Doubtless there is deadwood in the Labor party too and they are no different when it comes to push and shove. That’s politics as they say. But when there is such uneven reporting of these internal wars, we just don’t hear enough about the Liberals.

Perhaps their supporters think they are above that sort of thing. It seems Malcolm Turnbull does. While the moderates in the party seem to have the upper hand at the moment, that’s no guarantee it will stay that way.

In turbulent times, the storms can come from any direction.


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  1. Garth

    Thanks John. I’m not sure that the moderates have the upper hand though. I think the hard right just managed to find someone (in Turnbull) that had a moderate look but was willing to sell his soul for the top job. Makes the party look moderate but the statements by Abetz, Bernardi, etc recently show the hard right aren’t about to give ground to anyone. And going by the parties policy direction, they are still calling the tune.

  2. my say

    NO NO NO.we have it all wrong,Malcolm said there are no factions in the liberal party,some in his own party laughed in his face, so he must be trying to fool the rest of us,geez they said the labor government were bad,this government takes first prize by a mile,

  3. diannaart

    The Libs were always a party replete with factions – finally we get to hear about it.

  4. Graeme Henchel

    As much as I would like to think that Abbott and his acolytes antics will bring the whole coalition crapfest down I am not so sure it will pan out that way. Abbott was hopeless and the majority of his party room know it. Self interest will ensure he does not return. Abbott was so hopeless that every time he pops up his stupid head he makes Turnbull look good. During the Rudd/Gillard wars Rudd’s antics sucked oxygen from Gillard’s good performance. In fact almost every time Gillard started to gain traction in the polls Rudd and Newscorp would manufacture a disturbance. Rudd’s undermining preventing Gillard ( and Rudd himself ) from getting credit for good economic and legislative performance. With Turnbull it is different. The coalition’s economic and legislative performance has been woeful. Nothing has changed since Turnbull removed the thug. However Abbott’s undermining only serves to help Turnbull and the Governmen avoid scrutiny.

  5. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    While we are stuck with the LNP Degenerates in government for a bit longer, we paradoxically are winning. Their internal civil war is damaging their squeaky clean image of not having factions, the bloodshed will weaken their political structure, and once the bloodbath becomes so apparent to the Aussie people, they won’t be able to plead the moral highground anymore when it comes to party unity.

    In between advocating for a formidable Progressive front to form as the alternative, progressive, energetic Alliance, I’m going to be watching the collapse of the LNP with pleasure.

  6. Deidre Zanker

    We will all watch the demise of the LNP with great pleasure and relief. We should soon have Barnaby Joyce as deputy PM. He should provide some “disruption” to excite Turnbull.

  7. brickbob

    Shows how much the MSM have been protecting the Liberal party all these years by not reporting on the factions within, but are always happy to paint Labor as the party offighting factions and faceless men and women pulling the strings,along with those ”’ dreaded”” Unions of course
    How Federal Labor ever won elections in this country is a miracle to behold,even Jesus Christ would be happy to claim that as a miracle.

  8. totaram

    “advocating for a formidable Progressive front to form as the alternative, progressive, energetic Alliance”

    I wish I could be as hopeful as you, but considering that Jay Weatherill has questioned how Bill Shorten will “pay for” fully funding the Gonski reforms, I do not hold out much hope. The fundamental problem is that these so called “progressives” have actually swallowed the neo-liberal macro-economic Kool-Aid and they will be struggling to articulate any kind of alternate vision while they are still in the grip of that ideology.

  9. Garth

    @totarum… I couldn’t believe Weatherill’s comments. Is he an LNP plant?! What the hell did he think could be achieved by saying such a thing??

  10. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    My only answer to your cautious words of wisdom is to not let “these so called ‘progressives'” hijack the meaning and spirit of the word, Progressive.

    They must explain and prove how what they say is an advance on what is before.

    PS Am I the only one who finds Weatherill suspect for his support of the uranium and nuclear industry?

  11. Wayne Turner

    Sadly our “mediaocracy” continues… 🙁

  12. John Kelly

    Weatherill also backs an increase in the GST. Is there a pattern forming here?

  13. margcal

    The election outcome will be determined by people who take no interest in politics except in the run-up to the election. Then they will glance at the headlines and do what the MSM tell them to do.
    The MSM will continue to deprive Labor of oxygen and criticise Labor when it does get a mention. Little coverage will be given to the Greens and independents.
    The MSM will promote the LNP. Any bloodbath in selecting candidates will be bleached and we’ll be told how wonderful they are for bringing in new blood to govern Australia (note the foregone conclusion).
    However much Labor promises to put in the pockets of voters, the LNP will offer 10c more and people will grab it with both hands (and their votes) – never mind that every public service they use and support for the less well of, including themselves, will continue to be slashed.

    If I’m proved wrong, no one will rejoice more than me.

  14. Sen Nearly Ile

    JMS conspiracy theory????
    Add federal silence with no words on subs, cars or chinese workers. Why???
    A cynics dream scenario??????

  15. Ned

    Howard first coined “Disunity is death.”- Abbott turned it into a Cult

  16. cornlegend

    I agree with you 100%,
    I say that and I’m accused of giving in .
    I just believe in the reality facing us and to pretend otherwise is foolhardy .
    Every attack on Shorten or Labor that an uncommitted voter reads is a helping hand for Turnbull {IMO}
    “If I’m proved wrong, no one will rejoice more than me”
    or me !

  17. JeffJL

    I’m with Cornlegend and Margcal.

  18. Keith Jenkins

    JeffJLFebruary 1, 2016 at 12:11 am

    “I’m with Cornlegend and Margcal.”
    me too
    I’m with Cornlegend and Margcal and JeffJL

  19. Anne Seville

    Keith Jenkins
    I agree too, a bit like chain mail ?

    I’m with Cornlegend and Margcal and JeffJL and Keith Jenkins

  20. Geoff Andrews

    Graeme Henchel, @ 6.54pm 31/01/16
    You opine that “Rudd’s antics sucked oxygen from Gillard’s good performance.” I kept hearing reports that Rudd was doing this, usually on programs that featured four commentators all sagely nodding in agreement because …. well, we ALL know he’s doing it, don’t we? … AND there was that report only last week in the Australian … etc, etc.
    Commentators on the news, making the news; an idea that became a rumour that morphed into a meme that consolidated into fact.

    Back on the subject of factions; the most toxic split in the government is that between the Liberals and the Nationals (as it has been for over fifty years). The Nats were not happy sitting on their hands in the hallway outside Turnbull’s tilt at power and when he was elected, instead of the usual “Congratulations, Prime Minister”, publically expressed some doubt about the terms of the coalition agreement (“our agreement was with Tony, so there”).
    But I do hope Malcolm kisses and makes up with Erica for his plotting against him with that funny little lying hobbit from Middle Earth during Utegate. It would certainly give the lie to warring factionalism.

  21. diannaart


    Since when was Labor, Robinson Crusoe?

    Every attack on any progressive be it a single person (eg Gillian Triggs) or an entire political party such as Labor or, dare I even write? the Greens is a gift for Snake-oil Turnbull.

  22. totaram

    “Weatherill also backs an increase in the GST. Is there a pattern forming here?”

    John Kelly, it is obvious that he will do so. The whole coalition strategy has been to force the States to ask for a GST increase by ripping money (around 80 billion) out of the federal contribution to the states. If you believe, like Jay Weatherill that the federal government “has no money” to give the states, you have to ask for the tax (GST) whose revenue has been promised to the states. But now see how cleverly, some “compromise” is being suggested by the neo-con from NSW, whereby part of the increase in the GST will be “shared” by the federal government ( so that big business can have a tax-cut!). If so-called Labor politicians cannot see through this game, they are either stupid or crooks. And the MSM of course has nothing to say, – well nothing that will expose this game..

  23. Ned

    “Disunity is death.” But unity didn’t seem to save JFK from conspiracy.

    Death Conspiracy’s don’t care about Unity.

    The last time i read the Tarot the Death card didn’t have Disunity written on it. Has Howard suddenly become an expert on Tarot card philosophy?!

  24. Pingback: Disunity is death and the Liberals have it in Buckets | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

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