Is This the Election the Liberals Had to Lose?

CommentaryIn this esteemed publication, I wrote a few weeks ago that when the Australian Liberal Party moves closer to the Australia Labor Party (ALP), it dismays its own best supporters without gaining any new ones. And so it has come to pass. Completely underwhelmed by a lack of centre-right product differentiation—in other words—a lack of conviction, many traditional Liberal voters, abandoned the party at the elections held on Saturday and sent it into opposition. Dismayed by outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s constant attempts to appease the left on issues ranging from global warming to religious freedom to the empowering of power-lusting state premiers in their disgracefully draconian response to COVID, many voters came to the decision that the party of Burke’s conservatism and Mill’s liberalism no longer believed in those things. The Liberal-National Coalition recorded its worst primary vote in the modern era at 36 percent. Many traditional Coalition voters “parked” their votes with the array of minor parties on the right, rather than direct them to the ALP, which will form a government having achieved its lowest primary vote since 1910, being 32 percent. This will be the case since the ALP relies heavily on Green party preferences in Australia’s unique preferential voting system, where voters are required to number each box on ballot papers from most preferred to least preferred candidate. Instead of fighting the election on its traditional strengths—opposition to “drastic climate action,” lower government spending, and fundamental freedoms—the Liberals conceded these arguments to their opponents in the name of political expediency. It became unclear exactly what the Liberals believed in. In other words, the Liberals lost the election because they forgot what it meant to be Liberals. An abundance of Liberal Party signage at the Strathfield North Public School polling booth on Federal Election day, in the seat of Reid, in Sydney, Australia, on May 21, 2022. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) Australia’s new prime minister will be Anthony Albanese, a former minister in the governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard from 2007 to 2013. He hails from the party’s hard-left. The next three years in Australia will, in all likelihood, follow the malaise Americans are experiencing under the Biden presidency. But there might be a silver lining to this dark cloud. Many “wet” Liberals in wealthy seats that the party would normally consider safe lost in dramatic fashion to so-called “climate independents” backed by billionaire Simon Holmes à Court, among others. These losses could number up to seven seats. This includes outgoing Treasurer and Deputy Liberal Leader Josh Frydenberg, who lost the blue-ribbon seat of Kooyong (Sir Robert Menzies’ old seat) to one of these “independents,” Monique Ryan. The tactic, therefore, of trying to appease those calling for climate action by signing up for net-zero emissions by 2050 clearly failed. This election loss offers an opportunity for renewal, if not revolution. The Liberal Party base does not live in leafy, well-to-do, beachside areas but in the outer suburbs of major cities and regional areas. In other words, the “forgotten people,” who Menzies asserted was “the backbone of the nation,” being “salary-earners, shopkeepers, skilled artisans, professional men and women, farmers, and so on. These are, in the political and economic sense, the middle class,” he said. By the Liberals being rid of these “moderates” desperately attempting to represent wealthy people and their luxury concerns, they can focus on rebuilding the party with true conservatives who have at heart the issues that matter to the “forgotten people”: ever-increasing living costs, the burden of red-tape for small businesses, the importance of families in creating a stable society, and extreme left-wing activism in schools which is leading to poor education outcomes. As I wrote last month: Historically, the Liberals have been electorally successful when espousing these philosophies simultaneously. Under John Howard and Tony Abbott, they had policies to unite the base around shared values of social conservatives and economic dries: lower taxes, smaller government, reward for individual effort, defence of the family and the importance of national sovereignty, the rule of law and, above all, individual liberty. The Liberal Party must rediscover these principles and find people prepared to argue for them with conviction. It will hopefully “shock” it into re-discovering its conservative roots. In that sense, this may well be the election the Liberals had to lose. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Rocco Loiacono is a senior lecturer at Curtin University Law School in Perth, Australia, and is a translator from Italian to English. His work on translation, linguistics, and law h

Is This the Election the Liberals Had to Lose?

Commentary

In this esteemed publication, I wrote a few weeks ago that when the Australian Liberal Party moves closer to the Australia Labor Party (ALP), it dismays its own best supporters without gaining any new ones.

And so it has come to pass.

Completely underwhelmed by a lack of centre-right product differentiation—in other words—a lack of conviction, many traditional Liberal voters, abandoned the party at the elections held on Saturday and sent it into opposition.

Dismayed by outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s constant attempts to appease the left on issues ranging from global warming to religious freedom to the empowering of power-lusting state premiers in their disgracefully draconian response to COVID, many voters came to the decision that the party of Burke’s conservatism and Mill’s liberalism no longer believed in those things.

The Liberal-National Coalition recorded its worst primary vote in the modern era at 36 percent. Many traditional Coalition voters “parked” their votes with the array of minor parties on the right, rather than direct them to the ALP, which will form a government having achieved its lowest primary vote since 1910, being 32 percent.

This will be the case since the ALP relies heavily on Green party preferences in Australia’s unique preferential voting system, where voters are required to number each box on ballot papers from most preferred to least preferred candidate.

Instead of fighting the election on its traditional strengths—opposition to “drastic climate action,” lower government spending, and fundamental freedoms—the Liberals conceded these arguments to their opponents in the name of political expediency. It became unclear exactly what the Liberals believed in.

In other words, the Liberals lost the election because they forgot what it meant to be Liberals.

Epoch Times Photo
An abundance of Liberal Party signage at the Strathfield North Public School polling booth on Federal Election day, in the seat of Reid, in Sydney, Australia, on May 21, 2022. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Australia’s new prime minister will be Anthony Albanese, a former minister in the governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard from 2007 to 2013. He hails from the party’s hard-left.

The next three years in Australia will, in all likelihood, follow the malaise Americans are experiencing under the Biden presidency.

But there might be a silver lining to this dark cloud. Many “wet” Liberals in wealthy seats that the party would normally consider safe lost in dramatic fashion to so-called “climate independents” backed by billionaire Simon Holmes à Court, among others.

These losses could number up to seven seats. This includes outgoing Treasurer and Deputy Liberal Leader Josh Frydenberg, who lost the blue-ribbon seat of Kooyong (Sir Robert Menzies’ old seat) to one of these “independents,” Monique Ryan.

The tactic, therefore, of trying to appease those calling for climate action by signing up for net-zero emissions by 2050 clearly failed.

This election loss offers an opportunity for renewal, if not revolution. The Liberal Party base does not live in leafy, well-to-do, beachside areas but in the outer suburbs of major cities and regional areas. In other words, the “forgotten people,” who Menzies asserted was “the backbone of the nation,” being “salary-earners, shopkeepers, skilled artisans, professional men and women, farmers, and so on. These are, in the political and economic sense, the middle class,” he said.

By the Liberals being rid of these “moderates” desperately attempting to represent wealthy people and their luxury concerns, they can focus on rebuilding the party with true conservatives who have at heart the issues that matter to the “forgotten people”: ever-increasing living costs, the burden of red-tape for small businesses, the importance of families in creating a stable society, and extreme left-wing activism in schools which is leading to poor education outcomes.

As I wrote last month:

Historically, the Liberals have been electorally successful when espousing these philosophies simultaneously. Under John Howard and Tony Abbott, they had policies to unite the base around shared values of social conservatives and economic dries: lower taxes, smaller government, reward for individual effort, defence of the family and the importance of national sovereignty, the rule of law and, above all, individual liberty.

The Liberal Party must rediscover these principles and find people prepared to argue for them with conviction. It will hopefully “shock” it into re-discovering its conservative roots. In that sense, this may well be the election the Liberals had to lose.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Rocco Loiacono is a senior lecturer at Curtin University Law School in Perth, Australia, and is a translator from Italian to English. His work on translation, linguistics, and law have been widely published in peer-reviewed journals.