Coalition Goes Hard Right
Labor MPs are convinced the Abbott aggression and excitability last week in parliament is more than temperamental. They think it marks a decided switch to the hard Right in Coalition thinking. One measure tells it all : how far distant seem the days – actually only 2009 – when the Liberal leader negotiated an ETS package with a Labor Prime Minister. Or when the last Liberal Prime Minister was pledged to putting one into place if he were re-elected.
It is not Scott Morrison’s suggestions to colleagues on strategy that should ring the alarm – that was a rash, think-out-loud moment that embarrassed other shadow ministers – as much as the considered stand to cut off $400 million in aid to build non-religious education in Indonesia. The aid program is so obviously in Australia’s interest that opposing it can only rate as Fox Channel populism : “how can the government spend this money when our own people…” blah blah blah. No, this was the litmus test that confirmed the new hard edge.
Peter Hartcher, in an excellent piece of analysis in today’s SMH, dissects this Rightwing thrust. He highlights the role of Senator Cory Bernardi who in 2009 was influenced by the mobilization of young conservatives in the US to set-up a Conservative Leadship Foundation here. Among other things it distributes an American text called Confrontational Politics, a handbook for the Tea Party movement. It has a website called CANdo which feeds into Abbott’s call for a peoples’ revolt against the carbon tax.
Add the links to conservative radio commentators crusading on Rightwing causes and you have a rough parallel with the Tea Party-Fox News axis in the US.
Their challenge is that the Green Party and the independents are likely to lock in behind the government. The government is telling them that when compensatory measures and tax cuts are in place in mid-2012 the passions will die and Abbott will have to explain how he takes these things away with the tax.
One side effect, in the meantime : he has the Coalition on a war footing that would seem to make it impossible for them to change leader.