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It could get worse for Matthew Guy’s Liberals

Written by Javed Iqbal

As the Liberals are having trouble recruiting talent from the private sector to work for the public wage, they presumably now understand the need for higher wages for the public servants we all depend on every day. The more conventional approach has been to defer rewards until leaving office with e.g. a taxpayer-funded seat on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in return for selflessly rendered services.

Guy already had question marks against him over the “lobster” revelations that sunk his campaign at the last state election, and now more seaweed will stick. If there was a viable alternative, there would be moves to change the leader. But who wants it now? Guy is the legendary “dead man walking” and awaits his fate after a seemingly inevitable demise in November.

The left’s hunt for the saboteur is well under way. Unfortunately for Guy, the list of suspects is embarrassingly long. Only a senior member of the party would have the necessary access to internal e-mails, and many are said to have sufficient motive.

While that doesn’t seem possible, the Liberals’ problems across the country run deeper than a passing scandal about a now-former chief of staff in one state.

In Western Australia they are an endangered species. In South Australia they just lost office. In NSW, the Liberal government is engulfed in the ongoing investigation into why and how their leadership planned to install former Nationals leader John Barilaro to a lucrative job in New York. Rights and privileges are capitalized.

Federally, Scott Morrison’s disastrous legacy is nothing more than a Liberal Party identity crisis. Will Dutton’s diminished delegates – the Liberals now have just four seats across metropolitan Melbourne – stick to the middle of the road or swing to the fringes?

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Some liberals believe their once-dominant party must better reflect Christian right values ​​modeled by American evangelical politicians. They believe that the future is to inhabit the space left by the collapse five years ago of the Family First experiment. Three recent by-elections in Victoria are proof that they are winning the internal battle.

In the upper house’s South Eastern Metro seat, Ann-Marie Hermans will replace Gordon Rich-Phillips. Hermans was a Family First candidate in 2006 and is from the Assembly of God. In Western Metro, Moira Deeming won the spot on the Liberal ticket to replace exiled religious zealot Bernie Finn, even though she shares some of the same controversial views that led to Finn’s expulsion.

Most telling of all was the contest in the Eastern Victoria Regional seat. After a remarkably effective recruitment drive, Gippsland chiropractor and “City Builders Church” figure Renee Heath won a close contest against competent and sensible incumbent Liberal moderate and lawyer Cathrine Burnett-Wake by a single vote.

Senior moderate liberals admit the religious takeover they have resisted for 10 years is succeeding. Some are speculating about abandoning their party to the rebels and starting over. Will the Liberal Party survive, or will we see it collapse?

Labor Premier Daniel Andrews – even under legitimate scrutiny over his own party’s ward stacking, biased use of electoral staff and the politicization of the public service – can’t believe his luck.

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Javed Iqbal

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