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More than Cory Bernardi: Why right wing politics is fracturing in Australia

Matthew Knott comments in the Sydney Morning Herald (7.2.17) on the ruptures appearing within the conservative side of politics in Australia, in the wake of SA Senator Cory Bernardi’s indignant departure from the Liberal Party. The author observes that, while it’s easy to place most MPs inside the Coalition party room into the ‘moderate’ or ‘conservative’ camps, those labels disguise deep divisions.

‘Everywhere you look on the conservative side of politics, fellow travellers are feuding and old alliances are crumbling.

‘Just look at Cory Bernardi and Tony Abbott, who also agree on pretty much everything. The former friends have spectacularly fallen out, with Bernardi accusing Abbott of leaking against him to the media.

‘… As news of Bernardi’s departure broke, [Eric] Abetz went on Sky News and said it showed the government needed to embrace conservativism. Yet Turnbull has already given ground to conservatives on same-sex marriage, superannuation, climate policy and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

‘Asked repeatedly what policy he wanted changed, Abetz couldn’t say. The point wasn’t to get a policy win; it was to make life tricky for Turnbull.

‘It’s a different story with younger conservatives such as Peter Dutton, Michael Sukkar and Zed Seselja. Unlike the old guard, they believe their best days are ahead of them. They’re jockeying for their own advancement, not lobbying for a return to Abbott. It’s in their interests, at least for now, to make the Turnbull government work.’

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