Liberals: No good whining about Cory Bernardi’s ‘betrayal’

The Australian

11 February 2017

Grace Collier

Oh boy, karma is such a bitch.

This week, when Cory Bernardi defected to set up his own party, Liberal members of parliament lashed out in fits of pique. Senator Simon Birmingham described the desertion as a “dog act”. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said: “I think people will be angry about any defection, angry about the betrayal of the Liberal Party values.” Government Senate Leader George Brandis said the defection was “not a conservative thing to do because breaking faith with the electorate, breaking faith with the people who voted for you, breaking faith with the people who have supported you through thick and thin for years, and indeed decades, is not a conservative thing to do.”

Bernardi’s move caused Liberals in Canberra to froth in anger, but elsewhere around the nation, beers were cracked open, popcorn was munched and people huddled merrily around television screens. Every time a Liberal politician moaned about broken faith and betrayed values, Liberal voters, celebrating in a fog of heady schadenfreude, punched the air with delight.

This week, for the first time in a long time, weary foot soldiers in a demoralised army had a bit of a spring in their step. The troops don’t care terribly about Bernardi or his prospects, it is just that someone has made the generals drink some of their own medicine at long last.

Since the time of previous prime minister Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party has betrayed, again and again, the “Liberal Party values” it pretends to hold dear. Yes, Abbott axed the carbon tax and stopped the boats. But he also appointed Natasha Stott-Despoja and Greg Combet to posts, abolished the debt ceiling, introduced a new tax on incomes, wimped out on free speech, tried to foist an expensive parental leave scheme on the nation, promised to match Labor’s unfunded promises on various programs, introduced billions in new spending and spoke to defend the Safe Schools program in the partyroom. None of those actions was in keeping with Liberal Party values and they all infuriated the people who had supported him.

All of the above is why by the time Malcolm Turnbull became leader, the party had no money left. This is why Turnbull donated prior to the last election, but now that is out in the open it raises an interesting point. The Prime Minister can afford to give $1.75 million after tax to the party; so until the budget comes back into balance, he should forgo a salary completely or, like Donald Trump, take payment of only one dollar a year. This would be an innovative move and could repair some broken faith with everyone. And while Turnbull is announcing this, he can explain why he went against Liberal Party values and bailed out Alcoa, a poorly run business that should be left to fail.

Scott Morrison and Kelly O’Dwyer have also acted against Liberal Party values. The Treasurer finds savings in one area but immediately spends the money elsewhere. He makes a grand speech about cutting tax and then never mentions it again. The Minister for Revenue and Financial Services seems obsessed with collecting tax and angry with people who want to get ahead. On TV, she comes across as a cranky private school version of senator Jackie Lambie.

Even Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, once the hope of the side, seems caught up in a whirlwind of social events that have little relevance to us. Designers vie to “dress” her for these events, and she is often photographed partying at them with vacuous celebrities, where she appears to be doing her best impersonation of a mature-age Paris Hilton.

Morrison and O’Dwyer have imposed new taxes and red tape, and seriously impacted on the retirement savings and living standards of many. The original version of their disastrous superannuation policy was passed by cabinet because no one understood it and couldn’t be bothered to look into it. This policy devastated the type of people the Liberal Party is supposed to represent and is most dependent on for support.

In the self-funded retiree ranks the Liberal Party will never be forgiven. As for its recent pension changes, reducing the income of those too old to re-enter the workforce and make up losses with extra earnings is a betrayal, a dog act and cruel.

Too many times, the Liberals have broken faith with their base and betrayed Liberal values. Their problem isn’t all due to their leader. The party has big problems, as do the people sitting around the cabinet table.

Their budget repair strategy seems built around punishing their own constituency to reward voters of other parties. The agenda is difficult to describe and even matters of routine business proceed at a glacial pace.

The Liberals have spent their time slapping their friends in the face and sucking up to their enemies, yet they stand surprised that their mates are running away and they have no money left to play with. Yes, Bernardi has betrayed them all, but how dare they complain! Why do they have the lack of insight and the hide to whine about how betrayed they feel when they have betrayed their supporters, again and again and again?