National Party heavyweights were gathering in a Sydney telephone
booth this morning to sort out a response to the McGauran defection crisis. OK,
they probably needed a fairly large room to fit in all the conflicting egos, not
to mention the daunting intellects needed to combat the political genius that is
Julian McGauran.

According to Steve Lewis in today’s Australian,
the Nats have a master plan, which apparently goes beyond the
traditional Country/National Party response to those uppity Libs – sit
around and have a good long whinge.

This master plan involves splitting the conservative vote by
entering three-cornered contests in the bush, squandering resources by trying to
cannibalise their own.
Truly. Does anyone really believe the lazy Nats will seriously give up the
trappings of government to sit on the cross benches and face electoral oblivion
at a time of the PM’s choosing?

As McGauran observed on his departure last week, the Nats are a declining
force on their own turf (notwithstanding today’s Newspoll dead cat bounce). And
if the Nats do adopt the new lemming policy, the emboldened Liberals would do it
right back to their reluctant coalitionists – and likely take from the Nationals
far more seats than they lose.

Peter Fray

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