Beginning of the end for Tasmanian Liberals?

Everyone has seen the decline of the Victorian Liberal Party which, in the two most recent state elections, has gone backwards1,2, in part because the party in that state was perceived as having been taken over by religious nutters3. Such a takeover of the Liberal Party by religious nutters is also seen to be, in part, the reason the Liberal Party was almost annihilated in a state election in Western Australia4. It was also one of the reasons the South Australian Liberal Party lost badly in the most recent South Australian election5. Similar takeovers have happened in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, with the Liberal Party not having been in government in the latter jurisdiction since November 20016.

It is clear that this lurch to the religious right by the Liberal Party is in part the reason for the rise of the Teals and other independents. Many come from a conservative background and would normally have been a good fit for the Liberal Party of Menzies or Fraser. However, the fact that the party has moved much further to the right and so many moderates have deserted it, has alienated people like these independents7.

An anomaly in all this is the fact that the only remaining Liberal state/territory government is that of Tasmania, which seems not to have been taken over by the religious. This may be about to change. Back before the 2022 federal election, Eric Abetz was dropped to the mostly unwinnable third spot on the Tasmanian Senate ticket and duly lost his seat. He maintained that it was because of “ageism and sexism”. It is funny how conservatives always accuse others of the ‘crimes’ they commit themselves. I suspect he was dumped because of his religious nutjobbery, his antediluvian views on sex and gender8, his rabid opposition to same-sex marriage9, and his climate change denial10

After being dumped by the Liberal Party to the third spot on the Senate ticket and losing his seat, he was clearly bereft of meaning in his vacuous, religious life. So, what did he do to try to regain a spot at the publicly funded trough? He has obtained preselection for the Liberal Party in the seat of Franklin for the 2025 Tasmanian state election11

Given that he was dumped by the Tasmanian Liberals selecting the Senate ticket in 2022, it makes you wonder what has happened to change their views so that a far-right religious nutter like Abetz could get state preselection in 2024. Could it be due to a rise in the numbers of religious nutters joining the party. Whatever it is, it is seen by some as a threat to the moderate, Jeremy Rockliff’s leadership of his minority government12.

There is considerable disenchantment with Rockliff’s leadership, which has seen some local branches of the Liberal Party go into ‘recess’, some ministers resign and two back-benchers resign from the party altogether (the cause of the minority status of his government). This seems to have allowed the religious a fairly easy run13.

So, it seems like the takeover of the Liberal Party by the religious will soon be complete.



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