The Liberal’s Colourless Campaign

Australia, Politics

Toby Caro

The Liberal campaign for the 2019 election is not good. It’s barely a campaign. The Party has been in strife for a long time now, with a slew of issues, and their disorganized drive for re-election is farcical.

Morrison has limited the scope of his campaign to two issues: economic management and personal trust. Passing over the fact that the election concerns distinctly more subjects than that, this is a dangerous and very deliberately ambiguous way to frame major issues.

What even the most minor scrutiny then reveals is a precarious lack of real policy, indicative of a sycophantic breed of politician, one alarmingly common within the ranks of the Liberal Party.

Climate change policy is a perfect example of this. After spending months bickering about the extent of Turnbull’s capitulation to the furthest Right of his party, his National Energy Guarantee was thrown out altogether. The Liberals then continued their infighting, this time over leadership. Finally, having reached the conclusion of a completely unnecessary and petty saga, which saw numerous ministers step down and several MPs decide to not seek re-election, the party agreed to largely forget about climate policy.

The only thing that has sparked backflip remarks and assurances now, is the election and the necessity of a climate change plan for success. Tony Abbott, long time climate change denier, has changed his tune so many times it’s hard to keep up, with his own recent concession being spurned by a challenge to his seat from Zali Steggall who has been outspoken on the subject.

Further to its impediment to productivity, such civil war has been destructive to the Party’s brand. The seemingly constant reshuffling of leaders and cabinet members stinks of untrustworthiness and has completely undermined the Liberal’s idea of united leadership. Indeed Morrison’s declarations of such come off as blatantly hypocritical and frankly unbelievable.

The Liberal Party is currently so toxic that even MPs within the Party don’t want to be associated with it. Jason Wood, Sarah Henderson, Michael Sukkar and Russel Broadbent, all hoping for election within the Liberal Party, have removed any trace of LNP logo or slogan from their election material. It’s incredulous that such an idea of a ‘Liberal campaign’ can exist, when the members comprising that campaign run solo efforts to emphasise a distinction from the Party.

Yet the Liberal Party campaign not only lacks backbench support, but serious challenges to senior ministers like Josh Frydenberg, Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton have left it completely bare. As a result, Scott Morrison has been forced to take the reins almost single-handedly.

The consequence of this is politics at its most cunning.

Morrison has steered his ship in the direction of the one major Newspoll he is winning, the preferred prime minister. The campaign then has become a tool for exposing personality flaws of Bill Shorten whilst bolstering the PM’s image of a local every-man.

Throughout the course of ‘The Bill Australia cannot afford’ campaign, Morrison has used Shorten’s name as an implicit slur, reaching to the bottom of the barrel to invoke the most venomous and hollow style.

It’s ridiculous that Scott Morrison can essentially limit an election race to the personality traits of either leader, and even more so that he then continues to attack and bully his opponent like an upset child.

It’s ridiculous, but it’s not impossible to see why he would, when the rest of the Liberal campaign is a shambles, with no policy, direction or even support. Australia’s political culture has been stagnant and hostile for some time, but this election is surely the apex.

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