Aug 9, 2007

Adjournment – Liberal Party

Adjournment – Liberal Party

9 August 2007

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (4.49 p.m.)—On 21 June this year Mark Textor provided one of his research reports to the government. It found that the government was arrogant, complacent and reactive. Mark Textor told the government that his report found that there was significant disillusionment with Liberals on issues with broken promises and dishonesty. This week we have seen it reinforced yet again why the Australian public thinks that that is the case—the fifth interest rate increase since the election. When asked about the advertisement that the Liberals would ‘keep interest rates at record lows’, the Prime Minister said that if you search through the transcripts you will not be able find anywhere where he said that. Forget about the fact that it was in the Liberal Party advertising shown night after night. Forget about the fact that it was the central theme of his 2004 campaign and the fact that it is still on the Liberal Party website today. It is unclear what the Prime Minister regrets most about this promise: making it, breaking it or denying its existence.

It is clear that this government has no long-term plans for Australia’s future, just short-term politics. It is desperate, a party eating itself from the inside like a cancer growing day by day. There is nowhere where that is more evident than in the New South Wales branch. This is a dysfunctional branch, where the leadership of the branch now talk to each other through lawyers. First of all, we saw the preselection of Alex Hawke in Mitchell—the protege of David Clarke, the associate of Ljenko Urbancic. These forces have not stopped at stacking out a local branch; they have stacked out an entire state branch. Those that disagree with them, they have destroyed. Just ask John Brogden. In the old days, the Prime Minister would have intervened, as he did prior to the 1996 election to replace inappropriate candidates in Parramatta, Macarthur, Paterson, Macquarie and Gilmore—but not anymore. Alan Cadman, the member for Mitchell, is quoted in Tuesday’s edition of the Hills News as saying it was possible that he would run as an independent. If he does that, he would join disenchanted Liberal councillor Peter Dimbrowsky, who is standing to ‘stop the rot and give moderate Hills voters a conservative alternative’.

But the Alex Hawke debacle is nothing compared with the debacle in Cook—a preselection dominated by lawyers, allegations, fraudulent behaviour and simple hatred, a preselection where the Liberal majority of the extreme right thought it was a good idea to support the commander of the Bulldogs Army from Redfern being the candidate in the seat of Cook to replace Bruce Baird. The allegations about Mr Towke go to his former membership of the Labor Party, breaches of electoral enrolment and misrepresentations of his business history and his educational qualifications. These have all come from within the Liberal Party itself. Michael Towke earned his spurs assisting Malcolm Turnbull to recruit hundreds of people in the Wentworth preselection to help stack out the Point Piper branch. After a month of brawling, when Michael Towke was preselected, the Prime Minister said this:

I think he’s an excellent candidate, he’s a successful small businessman; we always like those people in the Liberal Party.

If he is so good, why was he disendorsed? Now Marie Ficarra is putting up her hand to be the Liberal candidate for Cook, backed by the extreme right faction.

But it does not stop there. In Ashfield, Nick Adams is trying to secure preselection for Lowe, even though his proposals on council have included banning lawnmowers between 1 pm and 5 pm, introducing a 40 kilometre per hour speed limit and banning pigeons from the municipality of Ashfield. But it does not stop there. The Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, will be opening the Christian Democratic Party Convention 2007, which runs between 17 August and 19 August. Greg Smith, the shadow Attorney-General in the New South Wales parliament, will be speaking there as well. This is a different political party from the Liberal Party. So extreme and so out of touch have the Liberal Party become they are actually speaking at party conferences of opposing parties. It is quite extraordinary. Michael Derby, who is also speaking at that conference. (Time expired)