When politicians make their first speech, we hear about their history and their aspirations. When they leave parliament, we hear the truth.
Former leader John Hewson is particularly scathing about the current crop of Liberals who he described as “a directionless rabble”.
“The party is now characterised by disunity and disloyalty, by tribalism, not by principle or policy but by personal interests – not even party interests and certainly not the national interest.
Despite what they claim, few who stand as Liberals come with a genuine policy agenda or commitment. Their end game is simply to be a politician, or a minister, or even prime minister. Not necessarily to achieve anything in particular – just to be there, and to enjoy the trappings of the position.
While aggregate growth and employment numbers are a constant boast of the government, voters are increasingly concerned about the distribution of those jobs and growth, about income security as well as job security, having to live with increases in their costs of living while wages are stagnant – having to fund their daily lives by running down their savings and/or increasing their debts.
Therefore, it is a massive insult to voters when Liberals, individually and collectively, are more concerned about themselves, their careers and what they can suck out of the political system for their personal benefit.”
Julia Banks echoed these sentiments in a speech announcing her resignation from the party.
“Led by members of the reactionary right wing, the coup was aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for their individual promotion, pre-selection endorsements or silence. Their actions were undeniably for themselves, for their position in the party, their power, their personal ambition, not for the Australian people who we represent, not for what people voted for in the 2016 election, not for stability and disregarding that teamwork and unity delivers success.
The aftermath of those dark days in August then acutely laid bare the major parties obstructionist and combative actions and internal games – all for political point scoring rather than for timely, practical, sensible decisions on matters which Australians care about.
The Liberal Party has changed. Largely due to the actions of the reactionary and regressive right wing who talk about and talk to themselves, rather than listening to the people.”
Ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has spoken of the impossibility of getting any sensible policy on climate change through his party room.
“The truth is … the Liberal Party and the Coalition is not capable of dealing with climate change.
It is just a fact I regret to say. It is like a third rail. We have at the present time in the Coalition, a group of, a constituency, that is the best way to describe it, who believe we should get out of (the Paris Agreement), that climate change is a fraud, the more you have the better, and are literally on another planet.
They are not prepared to play ball with everybody else.”
Mr Turnbull said the anti-climate change group in the Coalition and his own party took the attitude that “if you don’t do what we want, we will blow the show up, and that is essentially what you’ve seen — and so the problem is that everybody loses”.
His Deputy, Julie Bishop, echoed the frustration and its implications for energy policy.
“Our party is divided on the issue of climate change and whether – or how – we respond.”
“I don’t see a solution to the current impasse, but investors need regulatory certainty given the large and long-term investment needed for building energy generating capacity,” she told business leaders.
“The closest we have come to achieving bipartisan consensus with Labor, sufficient to get an energy policy through Parliament, was the National Energy Guarantee – no longer Coalition policy.”
Tony Abbott’s former Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, boasted about their cynical duplicity regarding carbon pricing.
“Along comes a carbon tax. It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax. We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”
Departing Liberals all agree that the party has a women problem with Turnbull comparing it to “the corporate world in the 1980s, maybe a bit earlier. It’s far, far too blokey.”
Any pretence that preselection and promotion are made on merit was blown away with the intercession of Scott Morrison to save Craig Kelly from his own local preselectors and with the promotion of Peter Dutton to the most powerful position in the country.
I note the Australian Federal Police Association have said the AFP must split from Dutton’s ministry in order to regain its “organisational integrity and its ability to carry out investigations without government influence.”
Former Attorney-General, George Brandis, used his final speech to warn about the dangers of Dutton’s power grab and his colleagues’ contempt for the judiciary.
“Increasingly, in recent years, powerful elements of right-wing politics have abandoned both liberalism’s concern for the rights of the individual and conservatism’s respect for institutions, in favour of a belligerent, intolerant populism which shows no respect for either the rights of individual citizens or the traditional institutions which protect them,” Senator Brandis said.
“I have not disguised my concern of attacks upon the institutions of the law: the courts and those who practice in them. To attack those institutions is to attack the rule of law itself,” Senator Brandis said.
“It is for the Attorney-General always to defend the rule of law, sometimes from political colleagues who fail to understand it or are impatient of the limitations it may impose upon executive power.”
Former Treasurer Joe Hockey also dished up some truth as he was leaving.
“Negative gearing should be skewed towards new housing so that there is an incentive to add to the housing stock rather than an incentive to speculate on existing property,” he said. “We should be wiser and more consistent on tax concessions to help pay for that, in particular tax concessions on superannuation should be carefully pared back.”
This is exactly what Labor is proposing to do and what the current Liberals totally reject.
Hockey also praised Labor for bringing in the national broadband network admitting it was a “very significant commitment” – one which has been bastardised from the second the Libs took over. We can’t undermine Rupert’s monopoly now can we.
From their own mouths, those who were, until recently, in the top positions in the Liberals, have told us that their colleagues are liars, incompetent, self-serving rorters who couldn’t care less about the best interests of the country or its people, and who have scant regard for the institutions that uphold our society.
If the Liberal Party is to survive as any form of credible alternative government, this rabble must be removed.
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