While the religious nutters seem to have taken over the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party1, and have apparently taken over several local branches in New South Wales2, the moderates are fighting back in the latter state. This is demonstrated by a few recent developments.
The idiotic ultraconservative climate change denier Craig Kelly3 is unlikely to get preselection for his seat of Hughes in southwestern Sydney, and has threatened to resign from the Liberal Party and sit on the crossbench if he misses out4. This was despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plea not to dump Kelly, in favour of Kent Johns. It has been suggested that Kelly would get less than 25% of the vote in the preselection contest5. Clearly three quarters of the Liberal Party members in Hughes recognise a halfwit when they see one.
Senator Jim Molan has been relegated to the third spot on the NSW Liberal senate ticket. This means he will be fourth on the combined Coalition ticket an almost unwinnable position even when the Coalition are doing well. The irony is that this preselection was undertaken using the expanded preselection college advocated by Molan’s conservative backers6.
There are also moves afoot to get rid of Tony Abbott, although he has been re-endorsed to run in Warringah, with vocal opposition from a minority of members present. 30% of the people voted against his re-endorsement. As one member said: “Everybody with any degree of commitment to the party and its long-term future wants to see this guy go, he’s just useless.”7 It is difficult to disagree. At a meeting in Warringah, organised by the community organisation GetUp, and estimated to have attracted 600 people, three quarters of the attendees admitted it was their first GetUp meeting. This meeting was held to disseminate information about what could be done to unseat Abbott. Two other groups dedicated to unseating Abbott have also sprung up: one, VoteTonyOut, has an Instagram account which is followed by Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull; another, Voices of Warringah held a lunchtime meeting in Neutral Bay attended by Alex Turnbull and economist Richard Denniss8.
If the moderates lose the battle for control of the NSW branch, or if the stoush descends into open warfare, the Liberal Party will be in the wilderness for many years, if indeed it still exists.