Sunday Herald Sun
LIBERAL BASE IS LEAVING
The party is out of touch
THE biggest blow to the Liberal Party this week was not the resignation of Craig Kelly, a quirky maverick who appears not to have done enough to combat sleaze in his own office, but the failure of the South Australian MP Nicolle Flint, to stand again.
Not that I blame her. I’ve known Flint since we were both policy advisers to the thoroughly decent Brendan Nelson in his short turn as Opposition Leader before being mowed down by Malcolm Turnbull. After watching how Turnbull routinely humiliated his staff, Flint walked, returning to SA a PhD and later becoming the first woman to win the seat of Boothby — not once, but twice.
But despite her strength of character and resilience, this serious conservative announced on Friday night that she’s out; not only viciously targeted by GetUp at the 2019 election, and Extinction Rebellion defacing her office as recently as the last fortnight, but even inside her own party, she was never given much support by those who wanted her to fail.
Flint copped it from the Left because she was a younger woman who’d supposedly betrayed her sex by being a mainstream conservative. She wasn’t sufficiently acknowledged by vindictive “small l” Liberals because she maintained a dignified independence of mind in a party that’s becoming both more “progressive” and more conformist than ever before.
Maybe Liberal voters have shifted to the Left too — but not nearly as much, I suspect, as the party establishment — and any political party that gets significantly out of touch with its voter base is doomed to long-term trouble.
Look at the way state Liberal parties in government and opposition have acquiesced or even connived at advancing the far-Left’s agenda on identity politics. The Victorian Liberal opposition has just waved through an Andrews government Bill criminalising any attempt to dissuade teenagers from gender reassignment surgery, that was opposed not just by churches but even by doctors’ groups.
Eighteen months back, the NSW Liberal government adopted a greenLeft private members Bill that, but for a party-room revolt, would have legalised abortion right to the moment of birth. Something like this is now happening in South Australia too, under a Liberal state government. And around the country, in the name of transgender rights, we are erasing “women”, “female” and “mother” from society.
On climate change, led by NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean, all the state Liberal parties have preferred not to beat the greens but to join them, willingly sacrificing blue-collar jobs to deindustrialise Australia for no environmental gain given our paucity of global emissions.
The West Australian Liberal Party has gone way past the state Labor government, even embracing netzero-emissions by 2030(!) and promising to close coal-fired power stations within just five years. Led by a conviction-free 34-year-old apparatchik, it comes as no surprise that the Liberal base is walking, with Zac Kirkup currently on track to lose his own seat.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is by no stretch a social progressive. But he’s not exactly a conservative warrior either. His recent response to questions on Melbourne radio about whether we’re too “woke” was “who cares”. At one level, commendably non-ideological; but at another level, not taking sufficiently seriously the erosion of so many of the values that his voters cherish.
Not one of the recent state lockdowns — in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria — has even been questioned by the federal government, despite the absence of published health advice and despite the massive economic damage and personal upheaval they caused.
Of course, the federal government has been a trend-setter in standing up to China and has shown the wider world that it is possible to stand up to big tech. It’s even possible that the government is now about to consider nuclear submarines to give us a chance of staring down China, should it ever come to that.
Even so, it’s not good for any party to have a tame frontbench and a timid party room, particularly when it comes to the fight on values, or those much-needed reforms that critics say are near-impossible. After all, as Tony Abbott’s border protection minister, Morrison was prepared to stare down all those who said it couldn’t be done; I’m certain I’m not alone in wanting to see ScoMo’s mojo return, to take on these big battles.
In dismissing Turnbull-era misgivings about the direction of the government, a senior Liberal strategist notoriously claimed that conservatives “have nowhere else to go”.
But they do. Since 2013, the Coalition’s share of the primary vote has fallen from 47 to 41 per cent. The minor party vote has risen from 19 to 25 per cent. Green voters aside, they’re all essentially conservatives who can’t bring themselves to vote Liberal. This week’s Newspoll, hailed as a triumph for Morrison because his lead as preferred PM had soared to over 30 percentage points, also had the two-party preferred vote stuck at 50-50.
For all Anthony Albanese’s political faults, that’s unlikely to move unless all the voters who think that the Liberal Party stands for balanced budgets (not record deficits), strong external borders (not closed internal ones), and more freedom (not lockdowns as a first resort rather than a last) are given something to cheer.
A party that can’t hold on to the likes of Nicolle Flint will struggle to hold the conservative voters whose common-sense instincts and commitment to duty and service she personified.
AFLW trailblazer MOANA HOPE has revealed she sought police assistance after graphic death threats were made on social media to her sister VINNIE.
Hope involved police due to the highly disturbing nature of the direct messages late last year.
Vinnie has a rare neurological condition and Hope is her carer. She lives with Hope, her wife ISABELLA CARLSTROM and their 14week-old daughter, SVEA.
“We actually had some pretty horrible death threats for Vinnie and I mean some pretty bad and graphic ones,” Hope said. “It was an all-time low. It was pretty full-on and we were genuinely really worried. I have had death threats (on social media), I have had threats, but when it was Vinnie that was a different thing.”
Hope said Victoria Police acted swiftly. “We went to the police and they were absolutely amazing. They were able to track that person and they were able to deal with them accordingly,” she said. “It ended up being a young girl.”
Hope said she declined to press charges.
“We were asked if we wanted to press charges and decided not to,” Hope said.
“She (the girl) just needs a chance, somebody to show her right from wrong. She needs to be educated to know that this is not acceptable.”
Hope said she fully endorsed the tightening of rules governing bullying behaviour and abuse on social media. She added that she was regularly the target of threats and abuse online but was quick to block, delete and report appalling behaviour and messages.
“In my case mostly it is older men making the comments. A lot of guys seem to have a real problem with a woman like me,” she said.
Hope, Carlstrom and Svea appeared in a Pride campaign for Bonds that celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community.
“To have my first child, which is my beautiful girl Svea, and my beautiful wife in it (the campaign) as well, is the ultimate for me,” she said. “I get to represent so many amazing people who are proud to be who they are. It just means so much to me. I am proud to be who I am and I love to show my pride.”
■ THE former hard man of footy BARRY HALL is making a surprise return to competitive sport in a game that not even he ever imagined he would be playing.
Hall, a premiership captain of the Sydney Swans, has squared up for a game of extreme putt putt on Channel 7’s Holey Moley.
“It is not every day that I get to be competitive where it used to be an everyday occurrence for me when I played footy,” Hall said.
“To be competitive again was an itch I wanted to scratch and I got to do that with Holey Moley.”
Hall is taking part in a celebrity Holey Moley that airs on Seven tonight.
“I am not much of a golfer. I try to hit the ball stupidly hard and always miss it.” On a more serious sporting note, Hall confirmed he was keen for another boxing match after making his professional boxing debut against PAUL GALLEN in November 2019.
“I dipped my toe in the water at the ripe age of 42, I am now 44 and I still love the training aspect,” he said.
“I have certainly kept that up. If something came my way I would absolutely jump back into the ring.
“You just have to be realistic. Boxing is a dangerous sport and at this age if I was not improving or if I was not fit enough I just would not do it. But I still am improving. I have only had one fight and since then I’ve improved out of sight ”