The
similarities between running for Liberal preselection and Max Bialystock’s
search for finance in The Producers have strangely gone unremarked. Both
involve, in Max’s words, going off into “little old lady land”.

Yet again
we have reason to question Josh Frydenberg’s political judgement, because the
way he is running his preselection campaign is not impressing Doris and Daphne
and their friends on the Kooyong college.

To begin
with, Frydenberg is running his campaign through the media. The branch members
don’t like that. Strictly speaking it’s a breach of Victorian Liberal Party
rules – and it’s certainly counter to the spirit such contests are conducted
under. It’s seen as being below Victorian Liberals. Common. A Labor Party sort
of thing to do.

Then
there are all the big names Frydenberg is wheeling out. Using Sir Zelman Cowan
is political necrophilia. David Smorgonis seen as Labor, while Santos chief executive Mr John
Ellice-Flint hasn’t been seen handing out how to votes for the Liberals lately.

Frydenberg
might have names behind him – but they are not branch members. They are not
necessarily people who support the local Liberals in financial or moral terms.
Why, Daphne and Doris probably don’t even know who David Gergenis – and they’ll probably resent being made to feel ignorant when they learn.

An odd
truth about Liberal preselections is that Doris and Daphne and their peers often don’t get
wooed by names. Rank and file Liberals often have more time for each other than
heavy hitters. Doris and Daphne are more likely to listen to Coral and Ruby
than some former White House adviser. They’d rather hear from someone in Balwyn
than Boston.

Frydenberg’s
already looking bad. He risks looking foolish. The challenger simply does not
understand Liberal Party psychology – and that’s a pretty poor pitch.

Peter Fray

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