I heartily agree with Ross Gittins’ assessment of Tony Abbott, and I also tend to agree with Harry Clarke about the respective current merits of Labor and the Coalition, although I’m not quite as scathing about Labor and certainly not a long-time Liberal supporter:
Because of the appalling climate change policies of the Coalition I will probably vote Labor in the next Federal election. Unfortunately I might be backing a losing team but I won’t vote for the Liberals while people of Tony Abbott’s ilk are leading the party. It’s a difficult choice for me because I have long supported the Liberal Party and I regard the Labor Party at the Federal level as a poor first choice. If Malcolm Turnbull led the Liberals my allegiances would switch in a flash back to the Liberals – so too, astonishingly, would those of social democrats like John Quiggin.
Still, it’s an invidious choice. If only there was a genuine “third force” in Australian politics, a bit like the Lib-Dems in the UK. Australia’s Dems were essentially a principled centrist grouping when formed by Don Chipp, and largely stayed that way until Meg Lees’ expedient but sensible deal with John Howard over GST caused it to split, lurch to the left and eventually disintegrate.
What chance a new principled but pragmatic centrist party (liberal democratic with very moderate social democrat overtones) emerging in Australia, given such widespread disillusionment with the two existing major parties? I imagine at the very least it would require impetus from one or more prominent, credible public figures. Lindsay Tanner and Malcolm Turnbull, for example. Of course it won’t happen, but still …