LIBERAL PARTY LEADERSHIP and 'WOMAN PROBLEMS'
Last Updated 8/1/2019
At the 2019 election, the treatment of women in the Liberal Party, the level of female representation in the Liberal Party ranks and a history of sacking two Liberal sitting Prime Ministers will haunt the Liberal Party if the disastrous Victorian election results are anything to pay attention to.
On December 4th 2018, Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull launched a spectacular intervention in the preselection process of Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly, urging his colleagues not to "capitulate" to threats from the conservative MP to defect from the Liberal Party and go to the crossbench if his pre-selection was challenged for 2019.
Mr Kelly has been described as the "Member for Sky News rather than the Member for Hughes" by another Liberal MP.
On the same day, Prime Minister Morrison intervened in the NSW Liberal Party to ensure that all current sitting members including Mr Kelly would be pre-selected for the next election uncontested. This was to stave off the threat of further reducing the Coalition minority government in the House of Representatives if Kelly defected just as Julia Banks had done in the seat of Chisolm.
Julia Banks, the member Chisolm, resigned from the Liberal Party and joined the cross-bench as an Independent.
In the wake of the Victorian election, Mr Morrison held an unscheduled Liberal Party meeting on December 4th to set future Liberal Party rules that ensure that an elected Prime Minister will not be challenged the leadership of the Liberal Party without 60% of the members supporting it.
This is an attempt to appease Liberal party voters who are still smarting over the Turnbull leadership challenge in August and demonstrated rage against this decision at the Victorian State election.
The Treatment of Women within the Liberal Party
The treatment of women within the Liberal Party was prominent feature of 2018, with seven elected women in the party exposing what they called a culture of sexism and intimidation.
- Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis opted against seeking re-election, citing "branch stacking, bullying and leaks", allegedly driven by a male sitting Liberal MP in NSW with a personal vendetta against her. The Liberal party has chosen a male candidate to replace her in Gilmore;
- Queensland Liberal MP Jane Prentice lost preselection in her seat of Ryan to a male candidate, again raising question of gender bias within the LNP in Queensland;
- Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi told her Upper House colleagues she would be naming and shaming bullies in her party, after she was relegated to an unwinnable spot on the South Australian Senate ticket;
- The Liberal MP for Chisolm, Julia Banks resigned from the Liberal Party and moved to the crossbench in the wake of "cultural and gender bias, bullying and intimidation" within the Government, particularly during the leadership spill which saw Malcolm Turnbull forced to resign.
- In November, following a landslide victory for the ALP at the Victorian election, the Minister for Women, Liberal Kelly O'Dwyer told a crisis meeting of Liberal MPs in Canberra that voters regarded the party as "homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers". And
- Senior former Liberal Party Deputy Leader Julia Bishop, now sitting out of Cabinet on the Liberal Party back bench after the ousting of Prime Minister Turnbull, detailed the "appalling" behaviour of colleagues.
"Our party, in fact all parties, recognise they have a problem in attracting and maintaining women. I have seen and witnessed and experienced some appalling behaviour in Parliament, the kind of behaviour that 20 years ago when I was managing partner of a law firm of 200 employees I would never have accepted."
On December 18th, ABC political reporter Claudia Long reported that the Government expects voters will 'overlook' the Coalition's treatment of women in favour of economic issues. Mr Frydenberg, the Liberal Party's deputy leader, has vowed it will not affect the Coalition's vote.
"I think the Australian people overlook those issues and really are focused on the outcomes that the Government can deliver them, in terms of the essential services that they need and require. Obviously I'd like to be focused, and the media to be focused, on the economic message and numbers we released yesterday. The Australian people and their government are focused on delivering them a stronger economy."
Coalition members have been keen to write off the ‘women’s issue’ in the Liberal and National Parties as something that can or will be ‘overlooked’ at the next Federal Election, as Deputy Liberal Leader Josh Freydenberg put it after the resignation of Nationals MP Andrew Brand over ‘sex scandal’ admissions.
Mr Freydenberg and Nationals leader Mr McCormack may want to rethink their assessment after a sobering look at who won and lost seats in the 2016 election and the by elections that followed in gender terms. There is no good news for the status of women in the Coalition in the following electoral realities.
- Of the 18 seats that changes hands in the 2016 election, women played a dominating role in 12 of those seats - - 6 of the 18 were lost by women [five of them Liberal incumbents];
- 5 of the 6 seats lost by women in 2016 were lost to a woman candidate; and - 11 of the 18 were won by women [1 Liberal candidate; 9 Labor candidates; 1 NXT candidate]
Since the 2016 election,
- Maverick MP Sussan Ley has publicly called for the Liberal party to a Labor like ‘quota’ for women representatives in Government instead of the ‘aspirational target’ of 50% representation by 2025;
- Independent Dr Kerryn Phelps won the ‘unwinnable’ Liberal held seat of Wentworth in a by election;
-Now Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie retained the seat of Mayo against Liberal Georgina Downer in a by-election;
- Ged Kearney won the Batman by-election after the male Labor incumbent resigned; She was opposed by a female Greens candidate, Alex Bathal;
-Susan Lamb retained the Labor held seat of Longman in a by -election; and
-Justine Keay retained the Labor held seat of Braddon in a By-Election.
Implications for Freydenberg and O'Dwyer
In relation to the Liberal Party seats held by Josh Freydenberg and Kelly O’Dwyer, a December Reachtel poll indicating Labor would win both seats from the Liberal heartland along with Chisolm and perhaps others.
The Victorian State election prior to this poll supports the prospects of Labor in both seats.
In the Victorian State election areas taken up by Josh Frydenburg in the federal seat of Kooyong (12.8) the swing to Labor in Hawthorn (9.1%), Box Hill (7.8 %) Burwood (6.5%) saw these three State government seats fall to Labor. The Liberal member for Kew survived against a 5.9% swing to Labor.
In the Victorian State election areas taken up by the Minister For Women Kelly O’Dwyer in the federal seat of Higgins (8.0), there were swing against Liberal candidates in Burwood (6.5%), Prahran (7.1%), Oakleigh (7.6%) and Malvern (10.1%).
Josh Frydenberg made his ‘overlook’ statement and Kelly O’Dwyer declared in the Parliament that “we are the Party for women” after the Victorian election crisis.
Both statements are likely to haunt the members for Kooyong and Higgins all the way to election day in 2019 even if Liberal heartland voters have gotten over the Malcolm Turnbull dismissal by that time.
Female Representation in Liberal Party Ranks
The Liberal Party declared in 2016 that it ‘aspired’ to a target 50 percent of its federal MPs being women by 2025. Liberals are deeply resistant to the idea of quotas, describing Labor women as "Quota Queens" who were not chosen on merit.
In the current Parliament, 20 percent of Liberal MPs are women.
The Liberal Party won 60 seats the 2016 election, 12 of them to women. With the retirement of Ann Sudmalis (Gilmore), the defection of Julia Banks (Chisolm) and the pre-selection loss of Jane Prentice (Ryan), there will be now only 9 female Liberal MP incumbents at the 2019 election.
Responding to Ms Banks' resignation in November, Government minister Christopher Pyne said he would welcome "a lot more women in the ranks". He also said there had been a "huge number" of women preselected for the next federal election, and that women were doing "very well" in nominations for the Lower House.
Male candidates have been pre-selected for Gilmore and Ryan. A female candidate was pre-selected for Chisolm.
Since 2015, 13 Liberal MPs have retired from safe seats. Male candidates have been chosen to replace eleven of them. Women are historically much more likely to be selected to contest marginal seats rather than safe or very safe seats for the Liberal Party.
Of the 83 Liberal Lower House pre-selections recorded on December 14th 19 are for women. The Liberal Party had endorsed just 14 female candidates in winnable Lower House seats for the 2019 poll.
Nine of those 14 women are current sitting members who intend to contest the next election.
Three of those nine incumbents hold seats with a 2PP margin of less than 3%.
There is no evidence of the “huge numbers” Mr Pyne touted unless one considers 22 percent “huge” for women pre-selected.
14 of the 19 women currently pre-selected are for winnable seats [either held by the Liberals or within a 6 per cent swing of winning].
LIBERAL PARTY PRE-SELECTIONS FOR WOMEN AS OF 14/12/2018.
[The numbers next to the seat name is the 2PP margin in the seat]
Curtin 20.7 Julie Bishop
Farrer 20.5 Sussan Ley
Forrest 12.6 Nola Marino
McPherson 11.6 Karen Andrews
Durack 11.1 Melissa Price
Higgins 10.2 Kelly O'Dwyer
Boothby 2.8 Nicolle Flint
Robertson 1.1 Lucy Wicks
Corangamite 0.03 Sarah Henderson
ALP Lindsay -1.1
ALP Macnamara -1.3
ALP Griffith -1.4
ALP Eden-Monaro -2.9
IND Chisholm -3.4
ALP Solomon -6.1
ALP Fremantle -7.5
IND Mayo -8.0
ALP Lingiari -8.1
ALP Fenner -11.6
There were eleven other winnable Labor held seats yet to be finalised for pre-selection where the Liberal Party could make inroads to bolster its female representation in Canberra. Those seats are:
Macquarie NSW ALP 2.2
Isaacs VIC ALP 2.3
Bendigo VIC ALP 3.9
Richmond NSW ALP 4.0
Lyons TAS ALP 4.0
Moreton QLD ALP 4.0
Hotham VIC ALP 4.2
Dobell NSW ALP 4.8
Jaga Jaga VIC ALP 5.0
McEwen VIC ALP 5.3
Bass TAS ALP 5.3
Liberal women won the first position on Senate tickets in three states: Holly Hughes (NSW), Senator Anne Ruston (SA) and Senator Linda Reynolds (WA). Amanda Stoker replaced George Brandis as a Queensland senator in 2018.
Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi was relegated to an unwinnable spot on the South Australian Senate ticket for 2019.
[Updates to come as candidates are announced closer to the election]
The Victorian State Election
In the first State Government election after Scott Morrison became Prime Minister, the Labor Party created a crisis in the Liberal Party ranks at both State and Federal level.
- Labor retained all but one of the 45 seats held prior to the election;
- Most of these seats also gained a significant 2PP swing towards them;
- The lowest 2PP margin in 44 retained Labor seats is 7.1 % in Narre Warren South.
- Werribee and Brunswick were the only seats that saw a negative 2PP swing against a Labor incumbent;
- Brunswick (2.2) is the only Labor seat lost in the 2018 election;
- Bonham noted “..an election where the swings are a sea of red everywhere except a few safe rural Nationals seats, Melton produced a 2PP swing to the Liberals of 7.2%.” after the ALP incumbent was dis-endorsed by the party;
- Labor raided Liberal heartland territory and gained nine seats; Labor also took Northcote from the Greens and Melton from an Independent. (55 seats).
- The Nationals lost one seat, Mildura (six seats) to an Independent;
- The average swing in the 9 seats Victorian Labor won from the Coalition in 2018 was 7.1 percent.
- 12 of the 27 remaining Victorian Coalition seats now have 2PP margins of less than 3 percent.
- Looking to future Victorian elections, the average 2PP margin in the 21 remaining Victorian Liberal seats has shrunk from 9.3 percent prior to the election to 3.1 percent after the election.
The Victorian Liberal Party leadership was decimated. It forced the resignation of the State Liberal Party President, Michael Kroger and Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy. Moreover, popular would be replacement leader John Pesutto lost the Liberal Party heartland seat of Hawthorn with an -9.0 % 2PP swing.
Federal seats in Victoria
In Victorian federal seats,
Dunkley (1.3) became notionally Labor and the margin in Corangamite was reduced to a bare margin (0.08) following a redistribution.
Chisolm (3.4) became an independent seat when Julia Banks defected from the Liberal Party.
The members for Latrobe (3.5), Deakin (6.3), Flinders (7.2) and Aston (7.6) were instrumental supporters of the leadership challenge against Malcolm Turnbull in 2018.
Labor is quietly confident about the prospect of gaining three or four of these nine seats in Victoria, particularly if Conservative heartland rage against the replacement of yet another Prime Minister in Malcolm Turnbull persists to the 2019 federal election.
The New South Wales State Election
NSW had already seen the safest Federal Liberal Party seat in New South Wales [Wentworth] lost to an Independent in a post dismissal by-election with a swing of 18.9 per cent.
Consequently, it is not surprising that former Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull publicly recommended in December 2018 that the Federal Coalition go to an election before the New South Wales State election in March 2019.
The public airing of Liberal Party angst about the forthcoming New South Wales State election by the former Prime Minister put the lie to Coalition leadership claims that the Victorian election was won and lost on State Government issues, not Federal Liberal Party infighting.
The loss of 11 Coalition heartland seats from Opposition with no gains and the reduction of the twenty Liberal Party seat survivors to an average 2PP margin of 3.1 percent speaks of more than “State issues” impacting on the Victorian election
The Wentworth by-election and the Victorian State election were alarming to New South Wales Liberal Party election strategists.
The major concern was that the incumbent State Government may suffer the same ‘baseball bat’ election defeat as a consequence Liberal Party voters still enraged at the dismissal of two Liberal Party Prime Ministers, Tony Abbott and/or Malcolm Turnbull.
On September 23rd 2018, Australian Associated Press reported a ReachTel poll which showed the Coalition’s primary vote has plunged to 28.6%, compared with Labor’s 31.5%. Gladys Berejiklian’s New South Wales government was neck and neck with Labor just six months before the next state election.
The opposition leader, Luke Foley was polling ahead of Berejiklian with 50.2% naming him their preferred premier. The Labor Party didn’t have it all their way. Luke Foley would later be forced to resign as leader of the Opposition.
Nonetheless, the poor poll showing reflected the government’s disastrous loss in the Wagga Wagga byelection and a fallout from the federal leadership issues that led to the downfall of Malcolm Turnbull.
When asked if the federal turmoil had changed their view of the state wing of the Liberals, 40.4% of voters in that Reachtel poll said “yes”.
The Liberal party lost a six-decade stranglehold on the seat of Wagga Wagga to independent Joe McGirr. The byelection produced a near-30% negative swing against the NSW government candidate.
By this time, the NSW Gladys Berejiklian government had become embroiled in an internal dispute between Ministers Ray Williams and Dominic Perrottet. The internal spat began when Perrottet, the member for Hawkesbury, announced he would challenge Williams for his old seat in Castle Hill.
The “civil war” waged between the two senior members of the State government was referred to the corruption watchdog. Labor announced it would refer the dispute to the Independent Commission Against Corruption after rumours emerged Williams was offered an overseas posting in exchange for relinquishing Castle Hill.
Labor’s Walt Secord said
“If a backroom deal has been done to allow the treasurer to oust a colleague for his seat because he doesn’t like the commute, then the public needs to know and it should be stopped.Trading seats for jobs is wrong.”
The multiculturalism minister, Ray Williams was warned that he would be dumped from the frontbench if he continued to push back against the NSW treasurer and deputy Liberal leader, Dominic Perrottet.
Scomo "not required" for the NSW campaign.
In November 2018, political reporter Michael McGowan cited Gladys Berajiklian saying Scott Morrison was not needed for the NSW State government election campaign.
The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has suggested the prime minister, Scott Morrison, would be surplus to campaign requirements.
Asked by reporters whether Morrison would be called on during the NSW election campaign the premier replied: “I have never relied on anybody outside NSW and I don’t intend to start now.” Her government would stand “on its own two feet”, she said.
Berejiklian declined to say whether she believed the ousting of the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull contributed to the result in Victoria,.
“But I’ll say this: People don’t like to see instability. People don’t like to see politicians focused on themselves, we know that,”.
The then NSW Opposition leader said NSW was “the eye of the storm” for divisions within the Liberal party. “We’ve got a Liberal premier who doesn’t want a bar of the Liberal prime minister and the feeling’s mutual. That says everything, doesn’t it?
NSW Pre-election Numbers
Prior to the 2019 New South Wales State election, the Coalition held a majority of six seats [ 52 of 97 seats]. The Labor Party had 34 seats.
It would seem unlikely that the Labor Party could or would win 13 seats to gain majority government in New South Wales.
However, the six-seat majority of the incumbent Coalition government became vulnerable. If the -7.1 percent 2PP swing average of the Coalition seats lost to Labor in Victoria was repeated in New South Wales, 12 seats would come into play for the Labor Party. These seats are
East Hills (50.4)
Upper Hunter (52.2)
North Shore (54.7)
Goulburn (56.6) and
A State election loss in NSW following the Victorian disaster would at the very least put in the federal electorate voters mind a perception that there is a wave of dissent against the Liberal brand sweeping the country just weeks ahead of the federal election. How many habitual Liberal voters jump on that wave, which alternative option they elect to vote for and where those votes hit the beach remains the critical questions.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE SACKING OF MALCOLM TURNBULL ON THE FEDERAL ELECT
While new Prime Minister Scott Morrison was attempting to sell the idea that the Liberal Party was a new generation team playing from a different songbook, others must have missed the memo or lost the new songbook he distributed among them along with Australian flag pins to wear into Parliament.
Having learnt nothing from the Victorian State election, Liberal Party members and other conservative thinking people continued to air the dirty washing of Liberal political infighting, turning on their own in public and published rants
The aim was to attribute blame for the ‘muppet show’ that was the Liberal Party circa 2018.
Julie Banks Interview
In an interview published in an Australian Women’s magazine in November, Victorian MP Julia Banks spoke about the leadership spill, her support for Julie Bishop in the spill and her decision to move to the cross bench as an Independent after being “devastated” at the emergence of Scott Morrison as the new prime minister.
Ms Banks told the magazine that if Turnbull was not going to lead the Liberal party, she believed Bishop to be the only choice.
She told fellow Liberals she was voting for Julie Bishop in the leadership spill because she was
“Seriously a true Liberal, and we knew Julie Bishop was Labor’s worst nightmare. She’s 20 years in the parliament, lauded as the best foreign minister in the world, communication skills of a genius, and a woman”
In the face of alleged extreme pressure including bullying and harassment to change her mind and vote for Scott Morrison with her fellow moderate faction colleagues in the leadership spill, Ms Banks persisted with her view that Julia Bishop was the only choice if Malcolm Turnbull was out of the race.
“We got the direction to move our votes from Julie [Bishop] to Scott. I said no, I’m voting for Julie in the first round and then I had people sent to me and phone calls, trying to move my vote … the thing that happens with bullying is people were afraid. They started becoming really concerned that Peter Dutton was seriously going to win”
In the weeks following the leadership spill, Banks was offered the Coalition’s United Nations secondment, a three-month placement in New York, which would have taken her out of the country for the remaining parliament sittings.
“I saw that for what it was. It was definitely to silence me … I actually said ‘will you tell the bully boys to back off or I’m headed to the crossbench’.”
Less than three months later, she quit the party in a bombshell speech to the parliament on 27 November. Banks stood in parliament to announce her move to the crossbench in a searing speech which took aim at members of “the reactionary right wing … aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for their individual promotion, preselection endorsement or silence. The Liberal party has changed, largely due to the actions of the reactionary and regressive right wing who talk about and to themselves, rather than listening to the people”.
State election electorates in Victoria saw Liberal heartland voters expel 9 Liberal incumbents, equally appalled as NSW electors in Wentworth at the sacking of yet another Liberal Prime Minister in Canberra.
Federal Election Implications
Chisolm [now an Independent], Dunkley [now a post redistribution ALP seat] and Corangamite [0.03 % 2PP post redistribution margin] may not be the only seats at risk for the Coalition in Victoria come the 2019 election.
A senior Liberal in Victoria was cited in The Australian in December saying the party was still trying to assess if the rage against the party seen in the State election will carry on to the Federal election in 2019.
If this rage does continue it will most likely be targeted at Liberal MPs who publicly acknowledged their support for the Peter Dutton leadership challenge in 2018.
In Victoria, these men were-
Jason Wood VIC MP Latrobe 3.5
Michael Sukkar VIC MP Deakin 6.3
Greg Hunt VIC MP Flinders 7.2
Alan Tudge VIC MP Aston 7.6
Kevin Andrews VIC MP Menzies 7.9
Jason Wood’s seat of Latrobe may at highest risk mathematically. However, Tudge and Hunt were actively instrumental in the bringing down of Malcolm Turnbull and Tudge has struggled with his education portfolio since being promoted to this position in the post Turnbull ministerial wash up.
A third of the PV swing served up to the Liberals in the Wentworth by-election and Victorian State election would see Jason Wood unseated and Michael Sukkar counting ‘second preferences’ like nuggets of gold.
The last episode of the 2018 Muppet Show.
The last episode of the 2018 Coalition government “muppet show” featured the architect of the leadership showdown between the Liberal Party moderate faction and the Liberal Party conservative faction, Peter Dutton.
On 30 December 2018, four months after losing the leadership spill he instigated, Peter Dutton broke his silence in an extraordinary spray at Malcolm Turnbull.
Calling the deposed prime minister spiteful and indecisive, the Home Affairs Minister told Brisbane's The Sunday Mail that Mr Turnbull had brought about his own downfall.
"Malcolm had a plan to become Prime Minister but no plan to be Prime Minister," was Mr Dutton's damning evaluation. "I am the first to defend the legacy of the Turnbull government. Malcolm was strong on economic management, borders and national security, but Malcolm will trash his own legacy if he believes his position is strengthened by seeing us lose under Scott (Morrison),'' Mr Dutton said.
Mr Dutton said Mr Turnbull's poor management had lost the Libs 15 seats in the 2016 election, leaving the government "with a one-seat majority which just made the parliament unmanageable. We were paralysed."
He said Mr Turnbull didn't have former Liberal PM John Howard's touch, judgment or ability to deliver the message. "We went from three-word slogans under Tony (Abbott) to 3000 under Malcolm and our achievements weren't effectively communicated as a result. Countless opportunities to strengthen the government or nail Shorten passed us by because Malcolm couldn't make a decision. Malcolm is charming and affable , but he doesn't have a political bone in his body and it's not a criticism, but without political
judgment you can't survive in politics and he didn't."
10 Queensland MPs had a keen interest in the Peter Dutton challenge to Malcolm Turnbull. It was an attempt of the conservative wing of the LNP and Liberal Party in general to reinstall a conservative faction leader and dismiss the moderate, Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.
These 10 Dutton supporters were
Peter Dutton QLD MP Dickson
Steve Ciobo QLD=MP Moncreiff
Luke Howarth QLD MP Petrie
Ross Vasta QLD MP Bonner
Ted O’Brien QLD MP Fairfax
Andrew Laming QLD MP Bowman
John McVeigh QLD MP Groom
Bert Van Manen QLD MP Forde
Karen Andrews QLD MP McPherson
Andrew Wallace QLD MP Fisher
In these 10 electorates, most conservative voters are unlikely to be able to bring themselves to vote for Labor under any circumstances.
However, some of these Queensland voters will opt for a protest vote against their man Dutton being beaten by Scott Morrison and the prospect of a moderate Coalition Government being re-elected.
These disenchanted LNP voters are expected to strike a one-off first preference vote for Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives, Hanson’s One Nation Party or even Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party instead of the LNP.
The five MPs who supported the Dutton leadership challenge from Western Australia are
Michael Keenan WA MP Stirling
Andrew Hastie WA MP Canning
Christian Porter WA MP Pearce
Ian Goodenough WA MP Moore
Rick Wilson WA MP O’connor
In these 5 electorates, most conservative voters are unlikely to be able to bring themselves to vote for Labor under normal circumstances. However, the bevy of palatable alternative candidates available in South Australia, Queensland and Victoria are far less developed, and therefore available, in Western Australia
Moreover, what Western Australian Liberal voters will be protesting against is not the sacking of Malcolm Turnbull or the failure to install Peter Dutton as Prime Minister.
What could stick in the minds of Western Australia Liberal voters is the complete and humiliating abandonment of the Western Australian Liberal Party senior member Julie Bishop.
When Malcom Turnbull decided not to contest the second leadership spill, Julie Bishop joined Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton as candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party on August 24, 2018.
On August 26th, The Guardian newspaper reported WhatsApp messages leaked to Barry Cassidy on the ABC Insiders program.
The messages clearly showed that Julie Bishop’s Liberal Party leadership bid was scuppered, mostly by moderate Liberals who had initially supported her bid.
These MPs “orchestrated a tactical vote against her in an effort to keep Peter Dutton from power” (Gareth Hutchens, The Guardian).
Bishop was knocked out ignominiously in the first round after securing just 11 votes out of the 85-member party room. Group chat messages leaked to the ABC show why Bishop performed so poorly in the first round of voting.
The messages show Liberals including Senator Cormann from Western Australia were rumoured to be throwing their votes behind Bishop in the first round of voting to ensure she would beat Morrison and Morrison would be forced to drop out of the contest.
Morrison would then throw his votes behind Dutton, in the second round of voting, and Dutton would ultimately prevail over Bishop.
The MPs in the group chat were warned they shouldn’t believe the rumour, and they should all put their votes behind Morrison in the first round of voting because he had a better chance of beating Dutton in the second round.
The Whatsapp group name was called “Friends for Stability”. Senator Cormann flatly denied the rumour, telling Guardian Australia: “This is 100% incorrect.”
On September 1st, Julie Bishop revealed to SBS News her surprise that not one of eleven Western Australia based Liberal politicians voted for her in the leadership vote.
"It surprised me. I always believed West Australians had a responsibility to look out for the interests of this state”.
Not only did she lose the leadership spill, Ms Bishop lost her roles as Deputy leader of the Liberal Party and Foreign Minister. Ms Bishop did not deny Perth Post newspaper reports that she was not wanted in the Scott Morrison’s new cabinet.
There will be Liberal Western Australia voters who will be enraged at the demise of the popular Julie Bishop. These disenchanted Liberal supporters will be angry at Dutton for causing the spill in the first place, Senator Cormann for leading the charge towards Dutton in Western Australia, Morrison for cutting her out of the Liberal Party leadership and Ministry and the complete abandonment of all her Western Australia colleagues which left her languishing on the back benches as the member for Curtin.
Where these voters direct their ‘back lash’ first and second preference votes in a State with very limited palatable [non-Labor] alternatives remains to be seen, but protest vote they will. Expect a range of first time minor party and independent candidates to appear on Western Australia federal election voting slips in the seats Michael Keenan, Andrew Hastie, Christian Porter, Ian Goodenough and Rick Wilson in 2019.
NSW Liberal voters will be split between rage against Tony Abbott being railroaded out of the Liberal Party leadership by Malcolm Turnbull and those enraged at Turnbull’s demise.
NSW voters who bothered to read The Australian on Boxing Day were treated to a conservative journalistic rant.
Conservative writer for The Australian Chris Kenny, whose political insight lead him to predict that a ‘drovers dog’ would beat Labor in the Victorian election, wrote an unhinged article blaming the woes of the Liberal Party on “ the NSW moderates who have taken over the State branch with an insidious brand of factionalism and patronage…spineless, pointless and smothering everything in their path (The Australian, Dec 22-23 2018, p. 14).
The “electoral legacy” of this NSW moderate Liberal faction, according to Kenny, includes
-A one seat majority Federal Government led by the moderate usurper, Malcolm Turnbull; [which then turned into a minority Government after he too was sacked as Liberal leader and complained that the conservative right wing of his party was happy to “blow up the place”]
-A Morrison Government wallowing in the polls, the latest predicting a 24 seat defeat
-A Victorian Liberal Opposition trounced by a “hard left Labor Government”; and
- A NSW Coalition State Government facing the prospect of defeat in 2019, despite
“presiding over an economy and infrastructure agenda that is the envy of the nation”.
The NSW State Government Energy Minister was singled out as “the latest so-called moderate to display political and economic ineptitude” for proposing zero carbon emissions for NSW by 2050.
Wait a minute, is this Minister not part of the same NSW Government which is the “envy of the nation”?
Kenny concludes his rant by reminding us that conservative faction leader Tony Abbott won a landslide 21 seat election victory in 2013 by promising to lower power prices and axe the carbon tax. For Kenny and the Conservative right of the Liberal Party, it all went down-hill after this “beacon of economic good sense and pragmatism” was snuffed out by the NSW moderate “Blob”.
The March 2019 NSW State election will provide disenchanted Liberals the first chance to send a message to the Party that dumping two Liberal Prime Ministers and having five Prime Ministers in five years was not the way to provide stable, reliable leadership of the country.
Five Prime Ministers in Five years
Julia Gillard (2010-13). Australia’s first (and only) female Prime Minister was forced to govern in minority. She was remarkably productive given the constraints of parliamentary numbers, passing significant legislation on climate change and addressing clerical abuse, but faced misogynistic attacks from the opposition and was undermined from her own side.
Kevin Rudd (2013). He assumed the foreign ministry under Gillard. He is widely regarded as having led a campaign of leaks against Gillard, destabilising her. He had only three months in the job before losing the election.
Tony Abbott (2013-15) was widely regarded as the best opposition leader in Australia, but an ineffective and inconsistent PM. His term was marked by an adoption of hardline asylum policies, an abandonment of climate change action, and poor economic management. After a series of gaffes and controversial "Captain’s Calls" (including knighting Prince Philip) and 30 consecutive negative News polls he was challenged and beaten by Malcolm Turnbull.
Malcolm Turnbull (2015-18) was at first seen as an urbane, articulate, centrist who could appeal to a broad swathe of the Australian population. But he was mistrusted by the conservative wing of his party, and came to be derided by some as "Mr Harbourside Mansion". Turnbull’s commitment to action on climate change incensed the climate-sceptic right wing of his party. Dutton attempted a leadership coup in August. He lost to Scott Morrison 40-45.
Scott Morrison (2018 to date). As immigration minister had established Australia’s controversial hard line asylum-seeker policies – including indefinite detention on remote foreign islands. Ironically it was this issue that forced him to use “every trick in the book” to shut down a cross bench pro-refugee bill being returned from the Senate to the House for a vote in the last week of Parliament. This issue will resurface in February when Parliament sits again.
Voters in the State seats of NSW that share the same geographical space of Tony Abbott [Warringah], Angus Taylor [Hume], Craig Kelly [Hughes] and Sussan Ley [Farrer] who supported Dutton in the leadership spill will not get much sleep the night before the upcoming State election.
Malcolm Turnbull had a reason for calling on Scott Morrison to set the Federal election before the NSW State election. One word summarises his concerns, Andrews [The Labor brand Premier of Victoria].
In South Australia, Dutton supporters Michael Keenan [Stirling], Tony Pasin [Barker] and Nicolle Flint [Boothby] can expect a higher than hoped for primary vote slippage to Cory Bernadi’s Australian Conservatives and the rebranded Nick Xenephon Team [Centre Alliance] in 2019. Ms Flint is another Coalition female MP likely to lose her seat if episodes of the 'muppet show' spread across the Victorian border into South Australia. There are no Coalition MPs in Tasmania, the ACT or NT to write about.
Apart from the dismissal of Malcolm Turnbull, and ongoing issues around women in both the Liberal Party and The Nationals, New South Wales State and Federal electors are most likely to recall the commitment of the current Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the Wentworth by election to
- consider moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem;
- remove all the refugee children on Manus Island/Narau to Australia before Christmas and
- ‘fast track’ legislation that would protect LGBTI children from discrimination in public and private schools in Australia.
Since the Wentworth by election, the Prime Minister has denied making the commitment to remove all the refugee children before Christmas and had the LGBTI student discrimination issue kicked into the long grass on the grounds of the need to include and protect “religious freedoms” and Labor’s refusal to accept the Prime Minister’s bill on December 5th. Labor argued the Prime Ministers’ bill would exchange one form of discrimination for another.