26/11/2018 - 06:27

Time running out for Liberals

26/11/2018 - 06:27

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

The Liberal Party must learn the lessons from its humiliating defeat in Saturday's Victorian election, otherwise the federal poll due in May will be a repeat performance. It would be swept from office, and its ranks in WA decimated.

Labor leader Bill Shorten is looking increasingly confident.

The Liberal Party of Australia must learn the lessons from its humiliating defeat in Saturday's Victorian election, otherwise the federal poll due in May will be a repeat performance. It would be swept from office, and its ranks in WA decimated.

Labor premier, Dan Andrews, has presided over a Victorian economy with low unemployment. That's always a big plus on election day. But equally as important was that the Australian Labor Party was united and disciplined during the campaign.

Stripped of all the local issues which obviously helped Labor, as opposed to the Liberals and the Greens - which had been optimistic about making gains, especially in inner Melbourne seats - was the question of unity.

The golden rule of election campaigning is that, in the 12 months before a poll the governing party 'battens down the hatches'. Issues which could cause trouble are quietly discarded or deferred till the 'next term'. You then campaign on your strengths.

So what did the Victorian Liberals do? First they fought an expensive and very public campaign through the courts over control of the party's rich fund raising arm, the Cormack Foundation. This not only robbed the state party of funds for an early 'micro campaign' but distracted attention from the main game - winning government.

Then there was the 'get Malcom Turnbull' campaign waged by the party's conservative federal MPs. The faction won the battle - Turnbull went - but the party was wiped out in the war. A pyrrhic victory indeed, by the so-called 'political professionals'.

And Mr Turnbull, from the party's moderate ranks, was said to be popular in Victoria - which prides itself on being a 'progressive' state.

To paraphrase former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke - a feet on the ground politician if ever there was one - 'if you can't govern your own party, how can you govern the state?'

To claim that the Turnbull factor was not an issue in the poor Liberal performance is simply delusional.

With Labor leader Bill Shorten looking increasingly confident, prime minister Scott Morrison and his team have six months to get their government back on course. The Liberal strength has traditionally been on economic issues. A coherent policy for small business would be a good start.

Otherwise the government faces an electoral wipeout. And that means WA Liberal seats such as Hasluck (held by Ken Wyatt), Swan (Steve Irons), Pearce (Christian Porter), Stirling (Michael Keenan) and Canning (Andrew Hastie) are all likely to be won by Labor.

If that prospect isn't enough to restore discipline within Liberal ranks then nothing is. In fact it could already be too late.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options