What is to be done

What I don’t know about the Liberal Party could fill a warehouse, but most of the prescriptions outlined by Michael Kroger on Sky News on Tuesday accord with my prejudices:

The organisational wings around the country need to be reformed immediately, particularly in relation to the branch structure and preselections. There’s a lot of things that can be done, very quickly. The party is in a terrible electoral position, but it can very quickly put itself into a fantastic position. This is not a five or ten year repair job. You could actually fix all the organisational and structural problems in the Liberal Party within 12 months if you had the will to do it, and make whoever the incoming leader is in a fantastic position to fight the next federal election in three years’ time. But what tends to happens is people retreat to their corners, they want to protect their own power bases and nothing happens. It requires some strong decision-making from the senior people to fix this thing, they can fix it in 12 months … The branch structure is 60 years old and even though the branch members still do a fantastic job, it’s the structure, not the branch members, it’s the structure which is drowning us. We’ve got probably 500 people in the Victorian Liberal Party whose job is as honorary auditor … There need to be branch amalgamations, we need to base the party around state or federal electorates, you need to broaden the base of people voting in preselections, you need to have perhaps a senior committee of senior party people who have the final say over preselections to rubber stamp the selections, you’ve got to stop the petty branch stacking, we should amalgamate with the National Party, we should give the federal party some more power a little like the ALP does, we should make it a federalist party and not just individual states, we need to totally revamp the fundraising within the organisation and we need to give the federal executive some power … you just can’t have situations where five or 10 or 20 people can stack a few branches and take over a safe Liberal Party seat and preselect a C-grade candidate and be happy with that. I pay credit to the Labor Party for some of the candidates they preselected, I don’t like their politics, but the fact is in various places they strong-armed some tired old members out, put some new people in who may or may not succeed but on the face of it some of them have got very good credentials for parliament. That’s the way you have to operate in politics. To leave these things to the branch-stackers is a recipe for disaster.

Malcolm Turnbull – wealthy, assertive, independently powerful – struck me as being just the man for the job outlined by Kroger. Perhaps the party room knows better. Or perhaps, to use Kroger’s formulation, they have signalled an intention to retreat to their corners and protect their own power bases, and nothing will happen.

Recommended reading: Alister Drysdale of the Business Spectator reports that both parties’ internal polling showed a late Coalition recovery that was stopped dead in its tracks by the Lindsay pamphlet disgrace. It’s also argued that the fake Jeff Kennett letter regarding proposed funding cuts to the states had the same impact during the last week of the 1996 campaign. I personally do not imagine that either incident was single-handedly decisive, but this is not the first report to emerge of a sharp shift in party tracking polling following Jackie Kelly’s infamous “Chaser-style prank” interview of last Wednesday. There’s also a very intriguing article on the Liberal Party’s late-term leadership ructions from Pamela Williams in today’s Financial Review (subscriber only unfortunately).

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,042 comments on “What is to be done”

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  1. 9 doubtfuls

    Calculating all voter types & applying the variable 2PP % per voter type

    Labor wins Flynn & Robertson
    Liberals win 4 (but McEwen’s aec figures do not balance at all)*

    3 will end up within 100 votes either way (Dickson , Bowman Solomon)

    The aec site are showing in McEwan having counted MORE pre polls & postals
    than their site shows as envelopes received for pre polls & postals ?

  2. The Liberal gay rights backflip.

    BRENDAN Nelson has backed equal legal rights for same-sex couples in a dramatic move that immediately distances him from the Howard era.
    While Dr Nelson says his stand on gay rights is a personal view and he will consult colleagues on any formal policy shift, he told The Sunday Mail he believes it is a change in law that’s overdue.

    “I don’t support gay marriage, adoption or IVF,” Dr Nelson said. “But I believe in addressing the social and economic injustices affecting homosexuals the length and breadth of this country.”

    Dr Nelson’s younger brother Philip died of AIDS aged 34 in 1990. He kept his condition secret from his family out of shame. Dr Nelson, along with his Treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull, is understood to have argued unsuccessfully inside the Howard Cabinet for legal rights of gay couples to be recognised.


  3. Does any bloger seriously believe Nelson will be leader in 2010

    Turnbull is odds on to take over within 18 months

    because most of Nelson’s votes came from the Howard group wanting to retain work choices which will cause his popularity to be below 35%

  4. Ron Brown, Geoff Lambert had a comment on that earlier in the night.

    # Geoff Lamberton 01 Dec 2007 at 11:08 pm


    My guess is a key-entry error, with the ALP and LIB TCP entries for the Absentees put in back-to-front. Could the scrutineers confirm? 38% to LIB in the Absentee is just not believable, but 62% is.

  5. I presume on Friday Howard saw the GG to explain the timetable for the transition and have a farewell chat. He would not have formally resigned. There must always be a PM in office and Howard will be in office until just before Rudd is sworn in.

  6. The poor old Qld Libs can’t take a trick, now Brisbane City Hall is subsiding into one of Gridlock Campbell’s tunnels.

    BRISBANE’S City Hall is slowly sinking and it will cost taxpayers millions to stop permanent damage to the historic building, The Sunday Mail can reveal.
    Sewer and stormwater pipework on the eastern corner has ruptured – possibly because of the drought or works on the Inner Northern Busway tunnel under King George Square.

    The broken pipework has been discharging sewage into the subsoil, causing subsidence and movement in the building’s wall and foundations.

    A specially prepared City Hall Subsidence Report recommends the complete reconstruction of the granite moat wall at the eastern corner of the building at a cost of $3.2 million.


  7. # steveon 02 Dec 2007 at 12:30 am

    Ron Brown, Geoff Lambert had a comment on that earlier in the night.

    The absentees voter totals ARE OK

    but per aec envelopes received for pre polls listed as 2564 and postal as 5915
    but per aec counted pre polls is listed as 5421 and counted postals is listed 7158

    Steve , are you suggesting the the above 2 line’s voter numbers should be reversed ?

  8. # Adam : “Um, the ACT voted 51% Labor and 13% Green last Saturday. I don’t think they’ll be electing a Liberal government any time soon. Stanhope may be a bit weird but he’d have to be exposed as Jack the Ripper to lose an election.”

    Ahhh..don’t be too sure of that, ACT Govt was Liberal for years, and minority at that with too many idiot independents holding balance-of-power from week to week, depending on the issue – one time we had a Catholic footy player who wanted ACT abortion laws overturned, in return for his deciding vote on privatising the electricity supply.

    One of the vagaries of the Hare-Clarke multi-member electorates voting system.
    (I still dont understand why it sometimes takes weeks to sort out the counting on the last few seats)

    It took about 10 years and 3 or 4 elections, before ACT voters finally figured out the MMV system, and returned some sanity, along with a minority Labor govt, with a couple of sensible Greens.

    And in federal elections, ACT Liberal always gets quota for a Senate seat. Its safe, but not super-safe Labor – for example, the south side federal electorate is only listed at AEC as “fairly safe” Labor ( ie <10% margin).

    but seriously, Jon Stanhope and his crew are popular locally, I can’t see them being toppled at our 2008 election without a major drama happening.

  9. [I doubt the WA members who voted for Nelson as the conservative candidate will be very pleased about that (except Mal Washer and Judi Moylan).]

    in Particular Wilson Tuckey and Don Randall

  10. Some betting agency was running bets on “Next Liberal Leader” to run the Coalition.

    Costello was obviously the favourite, then Turnbull.

    Anyone remember what the betting on Nelson was?? Bet anyone with a bet on him made a mint!

  11. I do not believe the Greens delivered votes to the ALP. I do not believe the Greens are able to direct their voters preferences. This is one of the good things about having a preferential ballot system. (We should be exporting it to the world. It would save billions of dollars in tested public resources in those countries that hold two-round ballots like France’s presidential elections. It is far superior to the undemocratic systems of Britain, Canada and the USA first-past-the-post.

    The main issue I have with the single member electorate is that it is on a property/residential basis. Most people do not vote for their “local issues”… Communication and education have changed all that. Australia’s problem is that it is a federation designed around colonies that were established 200 years ago. Things have changed. Look at the enrollment stats on may seats and you will see some Like McEwan have twice the population as others (Tasmania for example) I thought there was a 10% variance ruling…

    This is Australia’s chance for meaningful reform will we embrace it or squander it.

  12. Well Adam it’s better than saying ‘sorry’ to aboriginals, destroying Workchoices and advocating a Republic if establishing legal rights for same-sex ‘couples’ is the ‘worst’ Nelson will bring to bare they’ll all take it on the chin after all Turnbull probably supports gay marriage and adoption it could be alot worse.

    But try telling Heff lol!

  13. Adam mentioned that he thinks Kevin Rudd would resign during his third term rather than led his party to defeat.

    I note that November 2016 would be exactly half-way through Rudd’s third term, if he successfully changes the constitution during the current term of government to extend parliamentary terms to four years. I also note that if Rudd were to retire then or a couple of months before, he would eclipse Bob Hawke as the longest-serving Labor Prime Minister. Finally, I note that the current Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, would leave office on January 1, 2017 if he serves the customary two terms. Finally, the next Secretary-General will come from either the Eastern European or Western European and Others Group (of which Australia is a member).

    Am I crazy, or could Kevin Rudd be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations? It’s certainly hard to see any of the five permanent members of the UNSC (except, perhaps, Russia) vetoing his nomination. He would also only be 59 years of age – easily young enough to win the job.

  14. It’s certainly premature, Adam, but the timing was just a little too serendipitous not to mention. Besides, if it happens I’ll be searching through the archives to prove that I tipped it nine years prior to the event!

  15. Morning, all.

    Apropos the end of the Rudd Government.

    Funny that it has not yet begun.

    Kevin would not go beyond eight max and a half years. Quite likely less.

    Seven to eight is easily time enough to shape, refine, implement.

    After that, commonsense dictates, ditch it. Handover. To whomever, maybe Julia but others will have moved by then. Hopefully, female, from my point of view.

    And Kevin will certainly get a possie worthy of his undoubted talents.

  16. I still don’t understand why in the 21st century consenting adults need to sign a government supplied certificate to say they are married.

    We spent the 1980s getting government out of the economy, why do we let the government regulate something as basic as marriage? Marriage should be between consenting adults, it should have nothing at all to do with the government.

  17. [Shows on. The Legalities!]

    It should be a contract between two consenting adults, not between two consenting adults and the government.

    So sure, there are legalities, but they should be private, not public.

  18. Yes. But legalities are Government. Private or not. There no such thing as a ‘private court’ I’m afraid. Unless it’s settle out of court.

  19. Legalities and process.

    What is the deal with Bennelong?

    As i read others, it is usual that the losing candidate concedes, rather than the apparent winner having to claim.

    Having to, in this case. Maxine is expected at work, after all.

    And when does the AEC finalise on a seat?

  20. [Yes. But legalities are Government. Private or not. There no such thing as a ‘private court’ I’m afraid. Unless it’s settle out of court.]

    When you agree to buy something from a private company, the government doesn’t have anything to do with that. That is a private contract between you and the company. People make private contracts all the time. In fact, there are far more contracts made between individuals than between the government and individuals.

    My whole point is that the idea of government being the arbiter of marriage is archaic. Governments took it from Churches in the 17th century to stop religious wars. In our country we don’t have wars over which religion owns marriage, so there is no longer any need for it to be regulated by the government.

    The whole debate over gay marriage completely misses the essential point that it isn’t the government’s role to define what marriage is in the first place.

  21. Poor JWH. He had it all ‘staged’
    *the economy – on cue
    * unemployment & inflation – on cue
    *hobnobing as a ‘statesman’ @ APEC – on cue
    *winning the 2007 election – canceled
    *Xmas parade the ‘day after’ – on cue

  22. Ah, well Frank at number unkown.

    He’s making a list checking it twice,
    gonna find out who’s naughty or nice,
    Santa Claus is coming to town

    He sees you when your sleeping
    He knows when your awake
    He knows if you’ve been bad or good

    So be good for goodness sake.

  23. Funny thing the Daily Telegraph takes $1M of the tax payers money from the government but backs Kevin ’07 in the editorial.SWEET!

  24. Thanks Adam. What was Howard’s trip to Government House about Friday?

    Probably to hand the Head of Stateship back to the G-G.

    The way Howard assumed most of the public role of the HoS was disgusting. About the only gig he didn’t take over was presenting the Melbourne Cup.

    Jeffrey is no doubt delighted to see the back of the old stager.

  25. ShowsON:”The whole debate over gay marriage completely misses the essential point that it isn’t the government’s role to define what marriage is in the first place.”

    Perhaps in a moral sense, but I suspect the govt does have a role and an interest in defining government-funded financial benefits which are given to married couples, and such things as Family Court matters.

    I think the whole push for gay marriage, is to gain access to welfare benefits, Medicare benefits, taxation subsidies, superannuation subsidies etc – the list goes on.

    The whole gay marriage thing is about money, money, money. How can I get more money out of govt, of course I Know! we’re gay — we should get couple benefits too!

    That’s why they want “legal” recognition, a civil non-legal ceremony just isn’t good enough, because it doesn’t give you money!

    It becomes ridiculous, as you will have people pretending to marry just to gain access to “couple” benefits.

    There are others who live together as roommates without a sexual relationship of opposite sex who get the reverse. My elderly mother shared a state govt house with an elderly man, and was hassled so much about being a “couple” – no legal marriage or anything, but they had to Appeal it in court coz the govt wanted to reduce both their benefits by classing them as a couple. I know of young Uni students on Youth Allowances who just happen to share a house/flat and also get hassled to be classed as a “couple”.

    Others like siblings, cousins, might like to access “couple” benefits too, especially when one has been caring for the other for 30+ years, but because they dont have sex and are related, they can’t get access to govt benefits.

    Right of legal marriage, gives automatic right of legal divorce as well.
    Legally recognise gay marriage and watch the Family Court go into overdrive, with all the property settlements and custody cases.

    Then there’s all the de-factos, which never got a “legal” marriage either but want to be classed as one, but only when it suits them, usually when there is financial advantage.

    I suspect the govt’s interest in defining legal marriage, has less to do with the social morality of it, than the increased drain on govt funding, administration and fartarsing about.

    To be fair and equal, remove all financial advantages from legally married couples, of any persuasion, and watch how many people don’t care anymore!

  26. I was asked:

    “Sean Welsh… your preferred Liberal leader in Queensland?”


    Fiona Simpson 🙂

    Yes I know she is a Nat but I am assuming a merger…

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