It’s pretty clear that it was a mistake for Malcolm Turnbull to try to appease the agitators in his party by changing energy policy yet again. Turnbull’s capitulation lost him credibility and surely hastened the leadership challenge by Peter Dutton yesterday. Turnbull remains Prime Minister today, but he probably won’t last long.
Why does this keep happening in Australian politics? I blame the two-party system. Disagreements and arguments that should be happening in Parliament are instead happening inside the big parties. Labor did it for years, now the Liberals are.
The solution is a multiparty democracy. We’re already headed that way, with primary votes for the two major parties falling for years. Now I hope the moderate and conservative factions of the Liberal Party split into separate parties.
I’ve heard people claim that to get anything done we need big parties and stable government, but I think the last few years shows that big parties do not give us stable government. We need to try the opposite now: to get government moving we should reject the big parties and replace them with smaller parties that have stable policies which their voters actually want.
Imagine if Turnbull had led a moderate Liberal party, instead of a moderate-conservative Hydra. He could have done a deal with Labor on energy policy, which is what industry and community groups want and indeed what voters want. The conservative politicians could complain all they like without preventing other parliamentarians from negotiating a solution.
There are perhaps half a dozen natural political groupings in Australia, and I think they are the parties we should see in our Parliament:
- Outer-suburban working class, who are concerned about jobs and cost of living (from Labor)
- Inner-city progressives, who are personally comfortable but worried about the wider world (from Labor, and Greens, and Australian Reason Party)
- Liberal moderates, who want government to leave them alone so they can make money (from Liberal, and Centre Alliance)
- Right-wing conservatives, who want Australia to return to their idyllic past (from Liberal, and some National, and Australian Conservatives)
- Farmers, who are concerned that city politicians don’t understand their particular needs (from Nationals)
- Angry people, who want to blame others but don’t have any answers (from One Nation, and Katter’s Australian Party)
The split is already happening slowly on the left. Labor voters in inner-city seats are switching to The Greens, and Bill Shorten is refocussing Labor on worker’s right and wages.
Now what we need is for the same thing to happen on the right. A sudden, dramatic split in the Liberal party would be great for Australia. The resulting two parties could truly represent their respective constituents. I reckon it would be the best thing we can do to fix Australian politics.