The takeover of the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party is nearly complete and it seems like the same sort of takeover is happening to the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party. People from the True North Church attempted to take control of the Sorrento-Duncraig (in Perth) branch of the Liberal Party, but do hold official positions in the branch. The Pentecostal Globalheart church which backs Federal Liberal MP Ian Goodenough now control five party branches in his electorate of Moore. Two other evangelical churches (Freeway Church and One Church Perth) have senior people funding Liberal Party branches in northern and southern Perth. Some senior Liberals fear that these churches will become so dominant that they will control the preselection of Liberal candidates1.
The degree to which the influence of religion is making itself felt in the Liberal Party is demonstrated by a speech given by Paul Botha, whose wife, Trish Botha, is seeking preselection for the Senate ticket in WA at the up-coming federal election. Paul Botha is pastor at One Church Perth, and told his congregation “Should she receive the votes she needs, she’ll be representing God’s move, the voice of God, the desires of the church, the Christian church, in the highest levels of government”. I thought the job of a senator was to represent the interests of their state in what used to be the house of review. From what her husband says, it seems her church is more important. While Botha’s been listed on the WA senate ticket in the unwinnable no. 4 spot, she only just missed out on the no. 3 spot by a couple of votes2.
The same thing has happened in Victoria, as I related in May3, prior to the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull and prior to the drubbing the Liberal Party received in the Victorian state election. The takeover of that party by the religious was, in part, a reason for that drubbing4.
If this takeover of the Liberal Party by the religious continues, and they wish to continue their ultraconservative social agenda, and if the Liberal Party continues with its adherence to neoliberal economics, and continues to ignore climate change, the party will become unelectable. The reason for this is because: religion is declining rapidly in Australia; society is becoming more progressive; neoliberal economics has been shown to have exacerbated the disparity between rich and poor4,5; and all but the most venal or ignorant understand that the climate is changing and human actions are the cause.