My piece in Quadrant concludes
The seat of Wentworth is the latest casualty of these (broad church Liberal) policies. In the wake of the loss, Trent Zimmerman was not the only NSW politician calling for a more robust attack on fossil fuel-generated electricity. He would certainly be joined by his patron, Michael Photios, the state powerbroker whose wife, Kristina, is a director of Clean Energy Strategies, which bills itself as “a boutique corporate advisory firm specialising in energy“. Photios has been trying to replace conservative Liberal MPs, including Craig Kelly, who has converted his seat of Hughes from marginal to safe Liberal. In Kelly’s case the vaunted replacement is a former ALP representative, Kent Johns.
Although Scott Morrison has said there will be no change in the policy, pressures from the Wentworth election outcome, the left of the Party are moving to kill suggestions of a shift to a harder core anti- Paris and pro-low cost energy stance. This leaves the electorate with little to distinguish the ALP from the Coalition, except the gentler, rosier patina that the ALP will supply.
Could a Liberal leader do a “full Trump” and offer the liberal and conservative policy blend that has proven so successful in North America? Many would argue that Australia’s mandatory voting system means there is no possibility of energising otherwise non-voting supporters in the way Trump has done. Perhaps so, but the drift to the centre-left that characterises the Liberal Party today makes it difficult to discern a path that will prevent its defeat in a general election.