According to Greg Barns, a gap in exists in the market for a party with genuinely liberal ideals now that the Liberal Party has swung to the right. His theory won a big tick this morning from former Fraser Government minister and prominent “liberal Liberal” Ian Macphee:

There’s no question that there is no room for small “l” liberals in the Liberal Party. That’s been true for quite some time. There have been quite a few theories on that.

Since the end of the Cold War the internal politics in most countries has been dramatically changed. Both major parties are now run by factions, young men in suits who have all the numbers and do all the spin doctoring.

There’s no way people with ideas have any chance of being listened to. But I don’t see the Democrats as an alternative because it’s difficult to know what they stand for.

If a group of people had the energy to form a party I think there would be some support in the electorate, though I’m quite pessimistic about the willingness of the Australian people to grapple with a party that has ideas about the future. I think the electorate is happy to do well [economically] and not worry about the future.

The one hopeful sign is there are a number of independents in the lower house. That’s a very big step forward. The fact that you’ve got people as good as Peter Andren. It shows that the parties are on the nose.

The dominance of factions is now so great that anyone with an independent spirit will find that floor crossing is not acceptable. In Menzies’ day and Fraser’s day it was. I remember Fraser sitting across from a group of business leaders patiently explaining to them that he might not get some legislation throughout the Senate. They couldn’t understand that he didn’t control how people would vote.

Perhaps the sheer disenchantment of the electorate may lead to younger people forming Australian parties over the next generation. I don’t see it at the moment but when we do adjust to the realities we may see it. I’m glad someone is thinking about it. It’s the right thing to be thinking about for someone in Greg Barns’ age group.

Is it time for Petro to do a Don Chipp?

Peter Fray

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