A few days ago, I noted that the moderate wing of the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party, was fighting back against the ultraconservatives who are taking over the party. One of the ultraconservatives at risk of losing preselection was Craig Kelly, the idiotic climate change denier from the electorate of Hughes. He was under threat from the moderate Kent Johns, and it was expected that Kelly would be lucky to muster a quarter of the votes in the preselection battle1.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison initially pleaded with the Hughes branch of the Liberal Party to again preselect Kelly for the 2019 federal election, but this apparently had no effect2. It now seems that Morrison has attempted to use ‘emergency powers’ to save Kelly. This involves a ‘fax ballot’ being sent to all 23 members of the state executive and if it passes, it will override any local preselection where deemed necessary, to make sure that all sitting members are re-endorsed3. This will save Kelly, but given the parlous state of the government and their recent acrimonious reaction to the students’ strike for action on climate change4,5, it will just exacerbate the Liberal Party’s problems and their perception as a ‘homophobic, anti-women climate change deniers’ as stated by Kelly O’Dwyer to her Liberal colleagues6.
This resort to emergency powers to re-endorse all sitting members (mostly males) demonstrates the Liberal party are more serious about saving some ultraconservative climate change denying fool like Kelly rather than giving women increased representation in parliament. The debacle in Victoria seems to have increased the number of calls for gender quotas in the Victorian Liberal Party7. However, I will hazard a prediction, that quotas will not happen, especially now that the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party has been taken over by religious ultraconservatives. Despite being a woman, someone like Karina Okotel will be acceptable because she is an ultraconservative, whereas the person Okotel is likely to replace, Jane Hume, is a moderate8. Quotas would likely allow more moderates into the parliament, and the religious nutters would never accept that.
Malcolm Turnbull has now stuck his oar into this attempt at saving Kelly’s preselection by Morrison. He has contacted some members of the executive urging them to reject the attempt to use ‘emergency powers’ to override preselection decisions9. This is ironic in that it was the ultraconservatives who wished to increase the say of the rank and file of the party in the selection of candidates, and it is the ultraconservatives now trying to overturn these decisions. If the moderates lose this battle it will be the end of the Liberal Party. Turnbull’s intervention seems to have had an effect, with the moderates confident that they have the numbers (3 or more out of 23) in the state executive to overturn the attempted use of the ‘emergency powers’10. Kelly was made aware of this before entering Engadine Gymnastics Club for a function. Clearly stressed, at this he got into an argument with a local mayor and spat the dummy, spouting expletive laden abuse11. The word ‘omnishambles’ comes to mind, again.
PS. Dec 3, 13:30: It seems like the moderates are likely to cave in and Kelly will be saved. That will hasten the end of the Liberal Party.