Brendan Nelson didn’t have a good start with Newspoll today – but that’s always the way after an election. He got off to a better start, however, with his plans for the Liberal Party. The plans, anyway, if not the execution.

It’s a good idea to put Andrew Robb and Philip Ruddock to work revamping the Liberal Party constitution. It’s not so good adding new Cook MP Scott Morrison to the team. Morrison is a fat apparatchik who has spent much of his career on the public tit. He is not a doer. He is a symbol of what went wrong during the Howard years.

It might be impossible to lure Michael Kroger into parliament, but after talking so much about the need for greater central control in the Liberals he would be happy to put his skills and authority into seeing it implemented.

There appears to be a real mood for change within the parliamentary Liberal Party. Nelson might not be on the right side of it.

He won the leadership with the support of the old guard: older, more conservative parliamentarians who want to preserve the Howard legacy – for now, anyway. Nelson might just a “for now” leader.

It hasn’t been canvassed, but Turnbull won the support of a cross-factional coalition of younger parliamentarians – the future of the Liberals. Costello types, moderates and right wingers all seemed happy to unite behind the Member for Wentworth.

There should be more opportunities to look towards the future and get new blood and new bodies into parliament before the next election. There will be a by-election in Higgins. Philip Ruddock isn’t expected to stick around. The Nats should have a chance in Mark Vaile’s seat of Lyne and, while it hasn’t been discussed, Ian Macfarlane may well resign, too.

Then there is Alexander Downer. We are told that he is the top candidate to become the next federal president of the Liberal Party.

That must mean he is planning to resign too, as the Liberal Party’s federal constitution specifically precludes parliamentarians from the job. Or else the Liberals need to move very, very quickly on internal reform. If even a former leader doesn’t understand their rules and regulations, then they need a re-write.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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