Flat White

Thinking further about your departure, Cory…

22 February 2017

12:21 PM

22 February 2017

12:21 PM

What’s done is done and can n’er be undone.  You’ve left the Liberal Party behind and barring a Black Swan set of circumstances you won’t be going back any time soon.  Sure, Winston Churchill started parliamentary life as a Tory, moved leftwards to the Liberals, and then moved back to the Tories.  But Churchill was hated by a good few for these political meanderings, and anyway you’re no Winston Churchill. That’s not meant as a criticism, as to my mind Churchill was the single most outstanding Man/Person/Guy (take that David Morrison, pompous PC windbag!) of the entire twentieth century.  Call him ‘Man of the Century’.  I’m just saying that few politicians can pull off for long the jettisoning of the political party that nurtured them. 

Of course it’s easier when you leave to start up a wholly new party.  That looks somewhat less treasonous and treacherous.  And you also had the big advantage that none of the top Turnbull clique could plausibly look you or anyone else in the eye and complain about disloyalty. ‘Disloyalty thy name is Malcolm’ would have been Shakespeare’s line if he’d been around to meet our current Prime Minister.  When the charge of treachery comes from the mouths of Messrs Pyne, Brandis, Sinodinos et al, well we can only marvel at the chutzpah of this coterie of Prime Ministerial assassins, politicians who themselves showed the ultimate disloyalty.  You can take their rantings not with a grain of salt, but with a Pacific Ocean’s worth of salt. 

So it’s not that I don’t see what you’re trying to do.   I do.  Lord knows the gaping chasm that’s been opened up on the right of the political spectrum by having the most left-leaning Liberal PM ever would eventually have to be filled by someone.  I prefer you to One Nation (which is not to say that I’d be betting my mortgage on you over Pauline). 

No, my grievance is not so much with the substance of your decision to flee the party now officially known as Team Turnbull.  What I’m not so keen on is how you went about doing it.  Personally, and Lord knows it’s easy for those of us who are merely spectators to pontificate (heck, some of us even get paid for doing so), but personally I think you bungled how you engineered your departure. 

Here’s what I’m thinking.  Once you were tempted to go and flee the political party that’s home to the 54 defenestrating coupsters – or was home to them, as some have already met their deserved reward for defenestrating Tony – why not simply make a point of ignoring the Party whip and voting on each and every Bill according to whether you think it has real conservative credentials.  Just cross the floor whenever small government, Hobbesian conservative principles dictate doing that.   

So the superannuation tax grab against the core of the Liberal party’s support base (otherwise known by its Labor Party name, adopted by Messrs Morrison and Turnbull, as a ‘budget savings’)?  Cross the floor and vote against it and say why, on every television network and radio show that will have you. 

Or take free speech and the egregious so-called hate speech laws in s.18C.  When Mr. Turnbull and Co. are faced with the scandals of the treatment of the QUT students and of cartoonist Bill Leak the government attempts to take the issue off the front pages of the newspapers by setting up a Yes Minister type joint parliamentary inquiry.  Many of the ‘you can’t touch 18C, how dare you’ submissions are from taxpayer-funded bodies, meaning you and I as taxpayers are paying for these anti-free speech submissions to be written and made.  Nor is it even true that all the Liberal MPs on this committee are stalwarts for free speech and want to see 18C repealed.  Some Libs on the committee like 18C.  The ‘best’ possible recommendation we’re going to get from this attention-distracting committee is to delete ‘offend’ and ‘insult’, possibly replacing those with ‘harass’.  Whip dee-doo!  What a total waste of time for those of us who are free speech advocates!  (For instance, who doubts that if Justice Bromberg had only had ‘humiliate’ to work with he’d still have found against Andrew Bolt and who doubts that Gillian Triggs and the other Human Rights Commissioners could easily side-step such window-dressing type changes and go after future QUT and cartoonist types?) 

   So when Mr. Turnbull proposes this ‘solution’, of a Yes Minister joint parliamentary inquiry, you go out hard saying it’s a wholly worthless route to effecting real free speech reform.  You make clear you differ from the upper echelons of the Liberal party hierarchy. 

Or when there is any proposal of any sort to increase spending in any manner at all, even as part of a ‘deal’ with our dysfunctional Senate, you vote against.  Loudly and vociferously. 

 Or when Josh Frydenburg (he of claiming that Mr. Trump is a ‘dropkick’ fame) tries to defend the Liberal Party’s attachment to a 23 percent Renewable Energy Target – and right now at present the Libs and Labor have the same policies on renewables they only differ down the road – you just say ‘No, we need to get rid of the whole sorry scheme and go back to being a cheap energy country, the way we were in 2005 when we had the lowest energy costs virtually throughout the democratic world.’ 

The list of how you could have shown your disagreements with Team Turnbull would go on and on.  Of course at some point this would become intolerable to Malcolm and the Libs.  If you were especially lucky they’d blow up and throw you out of the party.  (Now that’s the way to leave and start a new party, being chucked out because you displayed a bit of principle!)  But if sense prevailed, far from a certainty with Team Turnbull, then they would just continue to tolerate you.  And that would have been no bad result either. 

Truth be told Cory I’m not sure that having a loud, vociferous critic of Labor-lite tendencies in today’s Liberal party, one who regularly was prepared to defy the Whip and cross the floor, might not have had more beneficial long-term tendencies for the right side of politics in this country than having you head out to set up a new party. 

Let’s admit it’s a close, debatable call.  One thing is certain though.  Come the next Liberal party spill and you won’t be there to vote against Malcolm.  I bet you’ve made at least a few people happy about that

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