I was planning a long post on the Credlin v O’Dwyer story – but this morning I saw an op-ed by Peta Credlin in The Australian that makes a lot of what I wanted to argue somewhat moot (or more moot than usual).
Peta Credlin asks a good question – and answers it too:
How is it that O’Dwyer, a Cabinet minister with youth on her side, is even vulnerable to challenge in the first place? As recent Liberal Party elections show, O’Dwyer’s faction was roundly trounced after trying to unseat Michael Kroger as Victorian president. There’s even chatter that she no longer has the numbers in her own branches. I don’t know about that but what I do know is that she was responsible for superannuation reforms that incensed Coalition supporters and as Andrew Robb’s report attests, contributed to the government’s loss of 14 seats last July.
To be fair – Kelly O’Dwyer was not, and is not, solely responsible for that much-hated superannuation reform. I have not heard that the policy was her idea or initiative. She was the minister responsible for overall policy development and guiding the policy through the Parliament.
But she did make a huge mistake.
As Grace Collier explains:
In March this year, O’Dwyer said: “No one has a right to a super tax concession. It is a gift that the government should only provide when it makes sense.”
A gift. Letting people keep their own money is now considered a gift by a Liberal government.
Over the last few days we’ve seen media reports that a group of “millionaires” (a smear that is quickly losing its bite – it is so easy to be a millionaire these days with property prices being what they are and compulsory super) are trying to unseat Kelly O’Dwyer.
So here is where I differ from Peta Credlin:
… I’ve always taken a dim view of challenging sitting members. … Knifing games — whether in Higgins or Canberra — are part of the reason the Coalition is struggling in the polls and supporters are angry.
Well – yes. I put it you, however, that most people are not so much angry about the knifing in Canberra per se, as opposed to the fact that the knifing doesn’t seem to have improved the Coalition’s poor performance. (Those who are angry about the knifing per se seem to congregate here at the Cat, The Spectator, and Quadrant.) Had the Coalition begun treating its supporters with a bit more respect, and less contempt, the knifing would have been quickly forgiven and forgotten.
That is the point – the Coalition does not respect its supporters. We have in Canberra a group of individuals who will not take advice. If you cannot speak with politicians you have to challenge them. There are several mechanisms for doing so:
- don’t donate money
- don’t donate time
- don’t vote for them
- campaign against them
- run against them in their seat
- challenge them from within the party.
In a democracy these are all legitimate forms of protest and political engagement. In fact, in a representative democracy, this is exactly how the system has evolved to operate. This is what we are seeing happen against the Coalition (the Liberals in particular, I think). They should give some thought as to why that is happening.
As an aside – I loved this backhander:
I made my position very clear to the journalist who first raised it with me on Friday, in my own News Corp column on Sunday and later that morning on air during Sky’s Agenda program. Despite this, a couple of professional Credlin critics have still tried to argue I’m at fault for failing to shut this story down (one might want to watch his own show for a start).
Ouch. Smack down.