Mar 13, 2017

Liberals in crisis — from ascendancy to chaos in four years

In 2013, the Liberal Party dominated Australian politics. Now it is in disarray, riven by factions, struggling to fend off a resurgent Labor, and vexed by One Nation. Bernard Keane and Josh Taylor examine where it went wrong.

On election night in 2013, the Liberal Party dominated Australian politics. Tony Abbott has just thrashed Labor, picking up 90 seats. The Liberals governed in the two biggest states, and the LNP under Campbell Newman had nearly obliterated Queensland Labor the year before; the Liberals governed in the boom state of Western Australia. Hopes were high that the Weatherill government would be dispatched in South Australia, and Labor's time in Tasmania looked over. A long period of Liberal ascendancy appeared certain.

[Brace yourself for a Liberal whitewash, from east to west]

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

33 thoughts on “Liberals in crisis — from ascendancy to chaos in four years

  1. Venise Alstergren

    How does the voter summon up the desire to trust any member of the Liberal Party? If anyone who was watching the TV coverage of the WA rout and the subsequent interview of Mathias Corman, who solemnly swore ignorance of the Liberal Party/One Nation Party preference deal, when he was the person who suggested it. Or to listen to George Brandis denying black is black or white is white.
    Why sweat over ways to improve it when the people involved have no intention of following advice?

  2. Bob's Uncle

    Has any Coalition government or opposition during this time offered any sort of coherent or positive policy platform to voters during this time?
    I guess NSW offered new infrastructure (albeit in exchange for selling existing infrastructure), and “development” (albeit in a way which looks suspiciously as if they are simply favouring their longstanding property developer base).
    At a Federal level we have had Abbott sucessfully opposing whatever Labor did from 2010 – 2103, and Abbott/Turnbull in goverment blaming everything on Labor from 2013 onwards. Actual policy work has mainly involved repealing whatever Labor put in place.

    Is it possible that voters are reacting to the sense that they have no positive agenda at all? And will the CPG actually notice this and focus on policy issues, or will Mark Kenny announce (yet again) that Turnbull has “changed the narrative” by wearing a leather jacket and offering a soft rebuke to PHON?

    1. Steven Pecl

      In 2017 the LNP only need two slogans to accurately reflect their policy portfolio: “No you can’t!” and “Give me that!” (picture of poverty stricken person in the background on that one)

    2. Xoanon

      Mark Kenny is becoming an embarrassment, isn’t he? He REALLY, REALLY wants Turnbull to somehow grow a spine and succeed, but wishing for it very hard doesn’t seem to be working.

    3. Franki Elliott

      Perfect summation.

  3. CML

    Bernard and Josh…don’t waste your time on a ‘special series’ on the LNP. Just more BS on yesterday’s men (mostly) in this putrid government. Hopefully, they will suffer the same fate as in WA.
    How about some articles on the policy positions of the major parties? At least it would put to rest the mantra of them ‘all being the same’…that’s just a load of hogwash which the MSM continues to promote.
    Just another form of ‘its all Labor’s fault’!!

    1. AR

      CML – if you can find a ciggie paper difference between the policies of Talcum and your great-great-etc grandnephew, gumBoil Shlernt I’m sure that we’d all be fascinated to learn.
      Lest you forget, Tweedledumber supported Tweedledumbest in the metadata, surveillance, concentration camp, welfare & wage rate cuts, Adani & fracking etc ad naueam legislation.
      A plague, pox & flesh eating virus take them all.
      Vote Independent or Green or suffer more of the same.

      1. [email protected]

        Typical green vent. No substance a lot of bulls##t.

      2. Keith Ward

        AR, wouldn’t it be great to have people with the guts to differ and the ticker to lead!

      3. John Boyd

        Bit of a rave really AR, but Mr Shorten (to you please) and co put a huge effort into developing policy, you can find it at the ALP site in the National Platform and ‘The 100 Poicies’, as well as else where; all of which led to the LNP policy campaign in the last election consisting solely of attacks on the ALP policies which were being released steadily in the lead up to the campaign.

    2. PDGFD1

      Seconded CML, seconded. Bored with party nonsense… policy analysis is what’s needed.

    3. Last name First name

      You are right CML . when the Press talk generally of the reasons for the flight to One Nation they do generalize the two main Parties are offering basically the same.
      Their is a vast difference in the underlying philophosy of each Party.
      Conservatives are still the “I’m alright Jack” Party and believe trickle down economics works.
      Yep it’s always Labor’s fault.

  4. John Newton

    How about a suggestion that it is their antediluvian planet desteoying attitude to climate change that may be the real elephant in the ointment (to mangle a couple of cliches)?

    With 75 % of the general Auustralian population and 90% of the rural population wanting something done, what does Turnbull offer?

    Clean coal. Clean coal.

    I really think that this is a self self- destructive and mystifying stance to take politically. What are they thinking? It can’t just be fossil fuel donations.
    How does the tiny rump of deeply conservative dopes wield so much power?
    One day we will find out.
    But not quickly enough to save the Barrier Reef. It’s a goner.

    1. Mark M

      Of course it’s fossil fuel donations. Who else, bar the banks, will give them the money they need to fight the next election.

  5. Jan Dobson

    Firstly, do you guys ever get a day off?

    But what I wanted to ask is, who are the moderates in the LNP, why do we never hear from them and what are the policies this group advocate?

    btw, Have to agree with CML, we’d all be better off if policies rather than party, politics & personality was the focus.

    1. Nudiefish

      That is a great question about the “moderates”.

      I suppose that some of the less smelly may be viewed that way, but only by comparison with their fellow travelers?

    2. Simon Cavenagh

      The moderates have been sidelined. I’m no fan of the LNP but there are decent people in that party who are slowly but surely being weeded out by the alt-right. Turnbulls biggest problem is managing this growing, noisy and totally un-empathic rump that seems to have a stranglehold not just on LNP policy but the national narrative as well. The successful harpooning of an effective carbon pricing policy on behalf of their flat-earthers and mining donors and ineffective action on SSM on behalf of their orthodox Christian base ( yes Christian….not Islamic) when these two examples are clearly supported by the population. Should the ALP remove Shorten and his ACTU baggage……then they are gone big time. Having said that the ALP lacks ticker and if it’s one thing that the WA poll shows its that the vast majority of the electorate want policies that promote inclusiveness, value education and tackle climate change. It’s not hard.

  6. klewso

    Power corrupts.
    Frequency waves – amplified by increasing voter volatility…. everybody gotta hertz sometime.
    It wasn’t that long ago the GOP stood to be routed?

  7. AR

    The apparatchiks of all the ‘major’ parties are clones from Central Catings why bother discussing these men (sic!)-without-navels, extruded from the cloacae of IPA/Menzies House and the Black Lubyanka of SussexSt?
    They have no concept or appreciation of even the semblance of a hint of an idea of independent thought that has not been so homogenised, deracinated, sieved, sterilised and rendered into indistinguishable drivel, leave the dead to bury the dying.
    The only hope, throughout the so-called western democracies is to put the incumbent, of any hue, last and vote Green or Independent.
    Lotsa luck with trying to rejig a corrupt and corrupting system, designed, built and sustained solely for the continuation of privilege.
    It can’t be done. It is shattered, unfixable (even were that desirable which, I may have intimated above, it is not) and unfit for purpose, ie the common weal.

    1. [email protected]

      Another typical green vent with still no creditable contribution for the subject matter.

  8. brihop

    The parliaments of the word seem beset by empty talk and no action with the fringes running debate. The masses get sick of the continued dealmaking and talk & give the loony fringe a crack. Libs are at their best in opposition sniping and blocking- than brave policy decisions. I believe ALL democracies are in strife. Fearless statesmenlike politicians required- moderate income – 12 hour day/ 7 days a week-immedite start- apply within.

  9. Jack Stepney

    The ACT now has a 25 seat assembly but that just makes the numbers worse – from 62% of lower house seats to 46%. And prospects aren’t great. They probably won’t lose too many more at a state level but a whitewash is coming for them Federally.

    1. Cut Snake

      WTF has happened to our country? Third world internet and no power, and now no gas? I say again, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

      How does this happen and what are we going to do?


      1. PDGFD1

        They sold the gas to international corporations… now they want to frack and drill to do it again.
        Let’s face it – the ‘GDP and Balance of Trade’ figures are all anyone is interested in. They can ‘sell’ these figures as some sort of representation of well being.
        Neither are.
        They’re just shorthand for lazy economists, who STILL want to sell the myth of endless ‘Economic Growth’
        Anyone with a brain knows that endless growth in a closed, finite system (this planet) is impossible… so there is only growth/recession.
        Unless of course someone starts thinking about s,designing new economic ‘rules’ for sustainable economies.

  10. Cut Snake

    WTF has happened to our country? Third world internet and no power, and now no gas? I say again, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

    How does this happen and what are we going to do?


Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details