The Liberal party has surrendered all pretence of being the opposition in federal parliament and now appear to agree with Kevin Rudd that he has a mandate to do whatever he likes without hindrance. As I said in a previous post, “It is not the role of an opposition to vote against everything the government puts up, good or bad,” but the fact is that the Liberal Party and the Nationals were elected to represent the views of the members of those parties, and those views are different to those of Rudd and the Labor Party.
It is time for the Liberal Party MPs to start representing those supporters and their beliefs, not some political elitist idea that those who manage to acquire power have the automatic right to do whatever they like. If this were the case the opposition should simply stay home, and save us the expense of sending them to Canberra.
It seems that at the moment the opposition consists mainly of four National party senators, and the senior Liberals want them stopped. From today’s “Australian”: -
SENIOR Liberals are advising Malcolm Turnbull to review the Coalition agreement after Nationals senators defied the Opposition Leader's voting instructions twice in one week.
The Coalition tensions come against a backdrop of simmering dissent on the right wing of the Liberal Party about Mr Turnbull's policy direction, including the decision to give the Government's industrial relations laws in-principle support, and his stance on the Government's plans for an emissions trading scheme.
Senior Liberals are increasingly frustrated with the Nationals in the Senate, who were joined on Thursday night by two Liberals in voting against the Coalition party line.
But long-serving Nationals are accusing Mr Turnbull of being a newcomer who doesn't understand the needs of the bush or the realities of Coalition politics, while Liberals are questioning the Coalition's Senate tactics.
In shambolic late-night scenes on Thursday before parliament rose for its long summer break, the Liberal leadership decided not to block legislation setting up the Government's $26billion in infrastructure funds despite the Government's rejection of Coalition-supported Senate amendments imposing greater transparency on the allocation of the money.
But four Nationals senators, led by the party's Senate leader, Barnaby Joyce, refused to abide by the decision because the legislation also tipped the $2billion rural telecommunications fund negotiated by the Nationals during the Howard years into the Government's new Building Australia Fund.
Two Liberal senators - Alan Ferguson and Alan Eggleston - joined them, and all but five of the Liberal Party's 30 remaining senators abstained - including Senate leader Nick Minchin, who explained that he "went to the loo and had a cup of coffee". ….
(Senator Minchin said) "We always review our tactics and strategy, but I think the Coalition in the Senate is working well - there have been only two instances like this in the past six months."
But privately senior Liberals were furious, saying that if the Coalition had blocked the bill the Government would have engaged in the "mother of all scare campaigns" over the Christmas break and it wouldn't have been Senator Joyce and the Nationals deflecting the criticism.
If the Liberals are not prepared to take on Rudd, then perhaps it would be better for the country, if they were to step aside and let the Liberty and Democracy Party step in and do the job.