Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Nats and Libs: The Tom and Nicole of Aussie Politics?

The situation between the Nats and Libs gets stickier as each day passes. Could the marriage be on shaky ground? The question was answered earlier this week in at least one state, when the WA branch of the Nationals announced their decision to split from the Coalition and sit on the cross benches in order to better represent their constituents. For all the Federal party's crisis meetings and discussion about re-branding, it's interesting - but fairly logical - that one wing of the party should take the concept of delineation literally. Meanwhile, at least one member of the Liberal Party, the outspoken Peter Slipper, is suggesting the party go in exactly the opposite direction - lay down the Akubras and officially merge with the Liberal Party. This is clearly not going to happen, but the fact that it's even being suggested is quite extraordinary.

Party president David Russell was talking tough on tonight's 7.30 Report after today's so-called crisis meeting, calling for the Federal Liberal Party to prove that it had no involvement in Julian McGuaran's defection to the party by rejecting his application to join. Again, this is something that won't happen, but by rights, it probably should, for two reasons; firstly, that the seat is, by rights, a National Party seat. Because of the system of voting in the Senate, voters elected to be represented by a National Party senator, not Julian McGuaran and whatever party he decided to join today. Secondly, Julian McGuaran is such a staggeringly mediocre senator that it's a wonder any political party has put up with him for the decade or so for which his dreary political career has ambled.

The party has repeatedly refused to rule out axing their long running policy of not running three cornered senate contests. It doesn't take an expert to see that this is clearly electoral suicide, but as far as suicides go, it's one that's painfully symbolic. Part of me wonders whether the Federal Nationals would be thinking differently if the Senate majority were not an issue. A lot more of me suggests it would be very different were the Coalition in Opposition, and the sort of disarray in which it languished throughout much of the 1990s.

I'm already risking turning this blog into a What Are Those Crazy Nats Up To Today blog, but to see a party in such clear turmoil over its identity and future, and to see this play out within the normally unflappable Coalition government ... quite entertaining indeed.


At 11:55 am, Anonymous Guy said...

Indeed - it's a fascinating scenario. If there wasn't a danger of McGauran changing tune and going independent, I'd reject his membership application if I was the Libs.

At 3:09 pm, Blogger Minotaur said...

Ah, but what Libs? The notion that Peter Costello had a hand in McGauran's defection still hasn't been resolved. If it is the case, Costello would have known that it would put Howard in a bad position - he has to accept the defection or risk losing the Senate, but he also faces potential insurrection from the Fiona Nashes and Barnaby Joyces of the world. Et Tu, Cossie!

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