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A liberal leading the Liberals: can Turnbull manage the ultra-conservatives?

Political scientist James Walter writes in The Conversation (24.2.16) about the challenge facing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in ‘managing’ the more extreme and ultra-conservative voices within the Coalition parties.

Turnbull has agreed to a review of an anti-bullying program for LGBTI students supplied to schools, including in Queensland, by the Safe Schools Coalition. The issue sparked debate in state Parliament (and elsewhere), as commented upon by Amy Remeikis in the Brisbane Times (24.2.16).

‘The federal government has announced it will review the Safe Schools program, after conservative senator Cory Bernadi raised the issue in a partyroom meeting. He has accused the program, which aims to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex students, of being a “radical program” that bullies children into complying with it.

‘Is this an example of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – a known small-l liberal – caving in to the demands of the hardliners within his party?

‘Turnbull, like John Howard, stresses “the broad church” of Coalition politics. He has no choice. He must accommodate residual liberals, economic pragmatists and ultra-conservatives within his government and wrangle a viable consensus. His greatest threat is sniping from ultra-conservatives, who continue to champion Tony Abbott.’

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