The lessons conservatives can take from Victoria

The dust will settle in Victoria, the finger-pointing after the Liberals’ state-election thrashing will play out, and then …. well, what exactly? Will the crucial ‘why’ be forensically addressed? Why, to start with, so many previously blue-ribbon seats were lost? Why so many former supporters rejected the ostensible conservative party for one encrusted with scandals, rorts, intramural feuds and police investigations?

No doubt there will be a reckoning. There must be a reckoning and re-appraisal of how well and closely the Liberal Party stood by the spirit of self-reliance, hard work and achievement which were once at the core of its being. There was none of that. Instead, we saw a party go to the polls on a platform boasting a policy of taxpayer-funded bribery that aimed to secure votes by promising great deals on a cheap fridge. Sad, very sad.

Perhaps we should treat this Victorian election as a warning bell, as a signal of deepest disillusionment with the performance and decisions of the party elite.

The Liberal Party that once was had no truck with the deceptively attractive ideas and emotional crusades of class warriors, the peddlers of ‘rob the rich and share the loot’ ideological poison and the weaponising of envy, jealousy and resentment.

Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the Liberal Party of Australia changed. This process, probably, began with the Malcolm Fraser’s participation in the ‘elder statesmen’ group, which delivered the former breadbasket of Africa, then known as Rhodesia, into the grubby hands of Marxist dictator Robert Mugabe. Speaking personally, that was the defining moment for me, when it dawned that a creeping naivete — a slow, almost stealthy philosophical impoverishment, if you will — was taking charge. Even to a recent immigrant to Australia, as I was 40 years ago, the Liberals were perceptibly shifting their political stance, their beliefs and what drove their decision-making. And they were moving to the left. Today, gazing o’er the post-Turnbull rubble of the party to which his plotting and scheming administered the coup de grace, there is not much daylight to discern between Liberal and Labor. This drift away from core principle was both tolerated and encouraged by Liberal loyalists, happy to see their party in power rather than the worse alternative.

The Liberals in Victoria, poor things, did not realise what they regarded as their conservative voter base did not regard them as their voice anymore. The Liberals, so close to Labor in their politics, ideas, methods and even their language, did not notice that they had become Labor’s first cousins in all but name. If they did, they actually thought it a good thing. Look to the now-former state member for Hawthorn, John Pesutto, who admitted when conceding defeat that he was happy his daughter attended Friday’s kiddie climate march. Sometimes defeat can be a blessing.

Just put yourself in the shoes of the ordinary conservative voter: if there is not much difference between Humpty and Dumpty who to choose? The one promising you more, of course. That is the reason, in the main, why conservative voters went across the political divide and voted Labor in Victoria. Pollster Mark Textor memorably dismissed the Liberals’ traditional supporters as having nowhere else to go, adding insult to ignorance by saying they no longer mattered.  The ostensible conservative party ceased to be the conservative party and became a social democrats without having the honest decency to officially change their name. And contrary to Textor’s arrogant expectation, they did indeed find other places to go.

Nationally, as in Victoria, we are faced with the grim prospect of a left-wing government for quite a while, and it doesn’t much matter if its members’ business cards say ‘Liberal’ or ‘Labor’. Is there a road back? Yes, and here it is instructive to look across the Pacific, where Donald Trump has declared, stood by, and implemented policies in direct opposition to those of his Democratic opponents. Moreover, like him personally or not, he has had the courage to defy the obscene bias of the mainstream media and the social media lynch mobs from which the punditocracy now takes so many of its cues and memes.

Here are some of the lessons we could take from the Trump playbook:

  • Minimise the damage  Labor might do in the future by appointing conservatives to long-term positions in as many important key institutions as it is possible
  • Scrap Paris and let the electorate know this has been done because expensive power is beggaring families and closing industries.
  • Conclude long-term treaties with  countries of similar structure and democratic institutions
  • Reduce the harm inflicted by the Left’s proselytising in schools and universities by prohibiting any political preaching in classrooms across the country
  • Reverse the insane programs of the genderfiddlers
  • Privatise the ABC and SBS. If you can’t do that, at the very least establish an outside review board to examine complaints. The ABC should not be in a position to police itself.
  • Review the levels of migration, especially from countries that are known hotbeds for terror and where the prevailing religious authorities preach violence as a devotional exercise
  • Repel 18C
  • Review and reform the welfare system, which will also help solve the immigration problem.
  • Increase defense spending while insisting on more bang for the buck.
  • Become once again the natural home and effective voice of Australian conservatism.

The last point is crucial. If we accept, as the polls tell us, that the Coalition is bound for an extended stay in the political wilderness, then this is the moment to act. If you are facing death, better to go down fighting. Why not, as one example, constitute and protect with legislation an outside body to handle complaints of ABC bias and inaccuracy?

Will it happen? If Victoria’s hapless and hopeless Liberals are any guide, probably not. But it should.


  • whitelaughter

    Yes, but who will learn these lesson?

    Assume that OZ is as normal 5-10 years behind the USA. That puts us solidly in the middle of our equivalent of their ‘Obama era’. We have 3-8 years remaining of that nightmare; 2 to 3 elections will pass before we exit the swamp.

    *IF* this is the case – neither Labor nor Liberal will be in a position to have a Trump moment, because the ongoing drop in their primary votes will have rendered them 2nd string parties. (The constant increase in informal voting is chewing into Labor as well).

    Can any of our minor parties grow fast enough to fill the void without imploding? None ever have before.

  • JoBeilby

    The state and federal Liberal Party are different entities comprised of different people with different leaders and different issues and portfolios to administer.

    As with this article, Victorian electors mixed the two and cast their votes based on Federal Government media commentary rather than State Government candidates and issues.

    None-the-less, the defeat made a deafening call for change, with Victorian Party President Michael Kroger resigning as the Party succumbed to it’s biggest historical loss.

    Now is the time to take stock and address the electorate. The article calls for a return to good old fashioned right wing conservative policy, however the loss of votes directly reflects the natural attrition of good old fashioned right wing conservative voters.

    There’s a change of guard happening at both Party level and in the electorates. The Menzies and Fraser era voters are largely, to put it bluntly, deceased, and no longer on the Voters’ Roll.

    The people with the pen expect a different kind of conservative option. One that empowers all, is concerned with policy diversity, and inclusion rather than division. Centrist is the term, not social democract; a conservative with strong social justice values. And this is the way both the Party and the electorate are trending.

    The Liberal Party still has a supporter base ready to listen but does it speak with a voice that can be heard? This is the challenge for the new conservative wave – to answer contemporary needs with relatable people grounded in responsible conservative governance.

  • Jody

    Yes, the critical mass of voter support for both major parties has fallen very low (if polls are to be believed, and they certainly seem like indicators). The rise of the so-called independent is on, but most of these ‘independents’ are green left anyway; they just don’t want the unions.
    When this government said it would have a surplus at the April budget my heart sank; they are behaving just like Wayne Swan did when he predicted his surpluses. The economic figures coming out have already shown a decline in growth and the fact that this government was stupid enough to do what Labor did is enough to make me contemplate the donkey vote. These knuckle-heads in the parliament are not better than the Three Stooges – only there are about 70 of them. Let’s call them the Twee Stooges.

  • brandee

    NSW Liberals have the additional burden of being under factional control. The Wets are the dominant faction [injcluding lobbyist Michael Photios] and influence or control preselections especially for the Senate so that someone of the calibre of Jim Molan is trumped for an eligible position on the ticket by unknown party hacks.

    How to drain this swamp?

  • Keith Kennelly

    marching to the tune of the right!
    in the middle of a Muddle betwee bull and mo.
    As left as it gets yet still feign bright
    Changing the churn by the light
    of the wanning mans moon.
    Raving and craving for Sodom
    And swearing by Gomorrah, so soon.

    Twisting about at the sight of right.
    Resembling a heap of, oops, a pillar of salt.
    Denying the beholder of great might
    as believers only wish a lightening bolt

    Elitist elitist roars from the two bob stalls.
    Don’t dare deny a trumpeter his trawls.
    Please the heart of the hearth
    Who sees beyond and beneath
    Burnham’s ’fake’ managerial elite.

  • prpriest@picknowl.com.au

    The once great Liberal Party is no longer the great Party I supported all my life but has been wilfully destroyed by dud Labor/Green Turnbull, Bishop, Pyne & Co and is beyond repair/redemption and needs to be replaced by a new Party. Such as a Coalition of those who support Tony Abbott – say 34 or so now that Turnbull lost 14 seats on 2/7/16 – and say 21 or so from the National party leaving the remaining 44 or so Lefties ( so called moderates ) to wither away in a Party of their own.

    I voted Liberal party all my life until proven land-slide election winner and achiever Tony Abbott was white-anted etc and back-stabbed by most unworthy people who were Liberal in name only LINOs.

    I voted Labor on 2/7/16 to help get rid of Turnbull, some LINOs and will vote Labor again at the next election including because of the back-stabbing of Tony Abbott, the remaining LINOs, failing to ensure Jim Molan got a winnable Senate spot and failing to withdraw from the unnecessary, very foolish and very costly Paris Agreement etc, etc

  • pgang

    It is also important to understand the opposition and to that end, giving it a name so that it can be publicly identified. The terms ‘Left’ and ‘Conservative’ serve no purpose. ‘Conservatism’ has too many negative connotations and should be dropped. “Left’ is not only meaningless butit also offers some sort of credibility where this is none.
    Perhaps Conservative should be dropped for ‘Aspirational’, which better describes the philosophy and is a term the public would view positively.
    The Left have no real agenda or philosophy. They are without morals and are very clever at playing the dirty, disruptive game of politics whilst selling a glorified image of themselves as being for the people. Of course they are the opposite. But they can’t be called what they are because derisory names won’t be tolerated. I had thought of terms such as capricious, irresponsible, immature, disruptive, but clearly none of these will work because they are too personal.
    I think the best term for them is Authoritarian. Totalitarian would be better, but again, perhaps too strong.
    So it would be nice to see the discussion based on the Aspirational as opposed to the Authoritarian parties, and that way the public will get a clearer view of the policies presented and the personalities involved.

  • Bushranger71

    Aye pgang; but political tagging is really fruitless and totally meaningless for majority of the electorate.

    The major shortcoming in media and commentariat discussion is failure to highlight and logically debate crucial issues affecting the national interest, without kicking around political philosophies and personalities.

    As evidenced by some comment here, electors will lean toward the best choice of policies and bugger the political philosophies.

  • Bushranger71

    Respectfully Michael; you seem among the majority throng in Australia that do not have a grasp of our defence scenario.

    An unrealistic ambitious defence restructuring program titled Force 2030 Vision was initiated under the Howard Government, which ultimately deflected Australia’s focus away from regional operating lessons learned since WW2 and other relevant warfighting experiences of the Vietnam War, toward expeditionary force concepts to support US conflicts of choice.

    This significant change of posture away from regional wet tropics operations involved unwise shedding of numerous very suitable good condition weapons platforms for which cost-effective manufacturer enhancement programs were already available. Instead, Canberra allowed the now embedded branch of the US Military Industrial Complex (MIC) in Australia to coerce wholesale replacement of assets by many unsuitable very costly platforms that have increased defence budget and operating costs enormously.

    The US MIC absurdly trumpets 2% of GDP as a norm for national defence outlay and Tony Abbott irrationally endorsed that thinking in 2013. GDP is a somewhat meaningless metric as it only represents the total value of everything produced within a country. It does not represent government revenue or funds available for offshore purchases, without borrowing.

    To illustrate; in 2010, US defense outlay represented 4.4% of GDP, but a mammoth 33% of federal revenue, which hugely damaged the American economy. That overspend subsequently diminished, but has now soared again.

    According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data, Australia’s defence outlay for 2017 equated to 2.0% of GDP (AUD35,824billion). Presently, defence spending relates to about 8 percent of federal revenue. The Australian Government aims to increase outlay to around $42.4billion in FY2020-21, representing roughly a $7billion or 20 PERCENT INCREASE in defence expenditure. With an unhealthy prognosis for federal revenue in prospect, it is seems likely that the percentage of outlay from available funds might soar beyond say 12 percent of revenue.

    A reality check re the value of money: ONE BILLION DOLLARS CONVERTED TO SECONDS = 31.71 YEARS!!!

    There is no justification for borrowing to fund extravagant defence programs if there is no strategic threat.
    We are only exacerbating any regional military tensions by strengthening relationships with the US in my view.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.