Charles Richardson on the Liberal Party – from Crikey

Here’s Charles Richardson writing for Crikey today.

I’ve been involved in politics one way or another for about 30 years; I don’t think I had many illusions about it even when I started, and I certainly shouldn’t have any left by now. But I was surprised how touched I was by the action of the five Coalition dissidents yesterday on the refugee legislation.Here were people making a stand when in personal terms they had nothing to gain and much to lose.

John Forrest gave up a $13,000 a year allowance as Nationals Whip; Judi Moylan put her preselection in jeopardy. Nor do they face different electoral imperatives from their colleagues: only one (Georgiou) represents an inner-suburban, latte-sipping seat. The others sit for typical outer suburban or rural and regional areas; Broadbent’s McMillan is still marginal.

So full credit to them, and also to those who, like Warren Entsch, disagreed with their stance but made a show of support for their right to their own judgement. This is how democracy is supposed to work.

And it is more, not less, impressive because the vote in the House of Reps was ultimately futile: it was never going to threaten the passage of the bill. But the open dissent may give courage to their colleagues in the Senate, who really can make a difference.

It is interesting that explicit criticism of the dissidents has basically come from what can fairly be called the ratbag fringe of the Liberal Party Wilson Tuckey, Don Randall, and the like. The mainstream leadership, including Howard himself, has been much more restrained: they still have that much respect for the traditions of freedom of action on which their party was founded.

I left the Liberal Party ten years ago because I felt that the limits on freedom of action had become impossibly narrow. Yesterday gave a glimmer of hope that its condition might not be terminal.

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Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

I don’t think that the legislation is necessary but I’m not entirely convinced about the moral positioning of the “dissidents.” If they’re opposed to excision on principle then they’ve had a number of opportunities to display it before now.

The boats stopped coming (apart from one – famously – from West Papua) years ago. It’s easier to ride the more sympathetic afterwash than the cresting wave of immediacy…….

On the other hand, watching Beazley inviting the dissidents over to vote with an opposition that would automatically expel anyone who crossed the floor, does make me chuckle. I remember when the government introduced their amendments to the Marriage Act in 2004 and Latham signed up to it immediately. People like Tanya Plibersek, Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong didn’t cross the floor……

Timing – and the rules – are everything………

Mr Bendigo
Mr Bendigo
15 years ago

Forrest’s electorate has intensive agriculture sectors that are heavy users of asylum seekers as cheap farm labour. There’s a lot in the electorate next to his too, around Sheparton.

I would be suspicious about his motivations.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
15 years ago

“I left the Liberal Party ten years ago..” You were a member of the Liberal party Nick?

Did you see the almost dust up between Kim and Wilson yesterday? The weirdest part was Kim’s resolute maintenance of his Confident Smile throughout. Some minder has really drilled it into him to look confident and smile. I had a vision of Wilson whacking him across the head with his iron-bar and Kim being stuck with the stupid grin for life. We don’t get enough moments like that in Australian politics anymore.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
15 years ago

It’s a funny thing to cross the floor on.

Australian civil liberties being sold up the creek only got a peep from one MP.

Enormous churning welds the middle classes to big government, nobody says a word.

Frankly there’s so many daft, dumb and destructive things to have stood against. I have to ask: why this? Why now? In all seriousness, and not trying to score points, I’d love to know. I think it’s important too, and good on them, but it seems to be more about symbolism than the meaty substance of what faces Australians generally.

sdfc
sdfc
15 years ago

Yeah good one Geoff, and just who was on those boats? Afghanis and Iraqis. You know, the people we liberated from under the heel of murderous regimes. Not a chance they could be refugees? They’d probably all want to go home now anyway with both projects being such a huge ongoing success.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

Beazley/Tuckey was deeply embarrassing. Tuckey is certifiably insane. Why the Leader of the Oppostion would engage with him in a national unscripted hostile media moment is not entirely clear. Beazley’s nervous giggle and clenched teeth smile after Tuckey called him a fat so and so and stomped off was reminiscent of the relief expressed by the bullied class bookworm when the teacher turns up to save him from the class “good at sports” psycho. To make things worse, the Beazle has been all over the airwaves tonight whining about Tuckey being the face of the bullying Coalition. That’ll really work…..