There is something about the Liberal Party of Australia that I cannot quite understand. There is something inherently repulsive about the attitude of the current Liberal Government that makes me find it hard to believe it is governing one of the wealthiest, luckiest and – despite the foreign policy of its current Government – still one of the safest nations in the world.
Anthony (Tony) Abbott is a firefighter and marathon runner. He is also Prime Minister of Australia, a country rapidly losing respect on the world stage.
When Tony Abbott became Leader of the Liberal Party it appears that he was given only one task: bring down the Labor Government of Julia Gillard. No thought appears to have been given as to what sort of platform the Liberals wanted him to adopt should he succeed. There is no doubt that it would certainly be a conservative one – lower taxes, more money for defence spending, free trade with the United States and any other nation that so desired it and less government involvement in the economic running of the country.
The way he set about the task was brutal. The standard of behaviour in the Liberal Party was quite unbecoming and included a misogynistic fundraising dinner. And unfortunately not helped by Labor Party infighting between Ms Gillard and her predecessor Kevin Rudd.
What we have actually seen has been something bordering almost on the far right social bonfire of the so-called Tea Party movement in the United States – bigotted fear of refugees and asylum seekers; a contempt for the natural environment that the New Zealand A.C.T. Party would be proud of; little time for the disabled, the sick, the vulnerable, the elderly or the children of Australia. Although many of these traits were exhibited by the previous Liberal Government of Prime Minister John Howard, the clueless nature of the execution of contradicting policies that appear to have been formulated on the hoof, borders on the farcical.
If Tony Abbott lost an election tomorrow I am not sure whether it would be a good or bad thing for Australia. Unfortunately there is not a lot to be said for Bill Shorten, the man who would succeed him, as Labor and the Greens have not yet rebuilt after the elections and Mr Shorten himself has not yet demonstrated real leadership. More promising seems to be M.P. for Sydney, Tanya Pilbersek, who is reasonably young and popular, but is not yet interested in Mr Shorten’s job. And the Australian Greens, although they seem to have made inroads into a couple of seats, the Fairfax media machine seems bent on ignoring them. Their most visible Senator appears to be Sarah Hanson-Young, who is working as an advocate for asylum seekers and refugees despite being spied on by the security wing of Wilsons (the group of businesses that includes Wilsons Parking in New Zealand).
Some days I wonder if Australia needs a centrist party to take back the middle ground, but when I look at the potential parties overseas that it could follow, only New Zealand First seems like a respectable option. Whilst that in itself is certainly not a bad option, would the Australian public be able to stomach the fact that their cousins across the Tasman may have one up on them when it comes to political choice?