Panel with Tom Switzer, Credlin
3 April 2023
PETA CREDLIN: But first let's get back to Aston. The brutal weekend air for the Liberal Party. I've taken you through my thoughts and why they ended up where they did. Of course there'll be a broader post mortem. And Liberals around the country are all looking for change. Now it's beyond doubt the Liberal Party in Victoria is broken. State election they should have won last November. Of course now Saturday's history making loss in Aston and it's a Liberal heartland electorate. In the outer suburbs of Melbourne. It's now gone back to Labor after over 30 years in the blue collar. As Peter Dutton admitted yesterday, the Libs have a problem in Victoria. And it was of course the home state of the founder Robert Menzies, a place where the party was thrived. Joining me now to discuss this and where to now if the liberals, Victorian Senator Jane Hume and the Executive Director of the Center for Independent Studies Tom Switzer. Tom dire times, of course. Let's start with the positive though you noted today in Australian lives have been here before and they've always bounced back. Can they do it again?
TOM SWITZER: Well I think Victoria is probably a bit different. It's John Howard says it's the Massachusetts of Australia. The center of political gravity in Victoria is well to the left of where it is elsewhere across the continent, but to answer your question, yes, anyone who's studied modern political history knows that both major parties both Labor and the Liberal Party whenever the pundits and even politicians give them the kiss of death, it's just mouth to mouth resuscitation and political circumstances can change very quickly in this business and without warning and particularly if there is indeed an economic crisis on the horizon. There will be a reckoning with the electorate, and I think the Liberals will be in a pretty good position to pounce on that, but don't write off either major party I mean, 10 years ago, the Labor Party was in dire straits, so circumstances can change Peta.
PETA CREDLIN: Like you're spot on, and I always say you don't turn around and political shit until you're confident you've hit rock bottom. You got to hit rock bottom and everyone acknowledged that you prepared to sort of move on to the things that were sacred cows that you'd have to say, Jane, you're at rock bottom now. You along with Brian Loughnane who I will declare is my husband. You did a review into why the party lost federally under Scott Morrison. Now of course, there's Aston. I doubt those recommendations you made have been implemented in the time between May last year we were Saturday night but give us your top five things that have got to change.
JANE HUME: So yes you’re right, those recommendations, and there were 49 of them Pater have not yet been implemented, but they have been adopted by the party, which I think is a very positive sign. That was only released just after Christmas. So it's only been a few months between then and the Aston by-election. But there were recommendations for the organisation are wing of the party for the professional wing of the party and also for the parliamentary wing. I think that some of the most important ones were about renewing our membership base to make sure that we have a membership that is reflective of the community that we make sure that we better engage with multicultural communities with young people with women in particular, are setting some targets about new membership 50% targets for female membership, and also 50% target for female parliamentarians that way we can better move towards reflecting the people for whom we wish to represent. So that's really number one. I've actually melded a few recommendations into one there. We also said that The parliamentary team needs to establish some values based policies that are implementable that are practical, tangible and reflective of mainstream Australia's values and attitudes. And we recommend also a deep dive into those values and attitudes of Australians of contemporary Australians to make sure that our policy positions align with those attitudes and values
PETA CREDLIN: Let me just jump in there and Jane. I think part of the problem that you got yourself into on Saturday night was everybody went out from day one would touch that he was going until we got to have a woman right and you ended up with a woman who was parachuted in Keneally-like to the seat. She worked really hard. I'm taking nothing away from her as a candidate but she wasn't the right fit for that seat. And I think you get the best local or receive the best candidate for setting the agenda. I think there's got to be a secondary consideration, but also your point about values based policy. I spoke to a few people I thought they must be making it up and checked and double check today. There was not one announcement targeted for Aston, not one fight for this and fight for that. But nothing was put back on the table. Surely that's mistake as well.
JANE HUME: Well, it was largely a campaign that was about reestablishing infrastructure projects that had been cut by a Labor Government and also about dealing with the cost of living which is, everybody told us that Aston, is the number one issue that people are facing right now. The problem is, of course that the voters have asked and weren't really associating the cost of living pressures that they're feeling with decisions that the government are making now would that have changed had it have been a by election held next week after potentially another interest rate rise, or in six months time after so many of those Aston voters have fallen from that mortgage cliff from fixed interest rates to variable interest rates potentially, attitudes may well have changed and they would have shipped that back to the government but they didn't and the government look let's face it won't be used. They're the levers that they can pull. They gave us five weeks to get ready for this by election. They already had a candidate on the ground who had some name recognition from the previous election. That was a very smart move for them to re-preselect Mary Doyle. Roshena Campbell I thought, was a terrific candidate. She was articulate. She was smart. She's capable. She worked so hard, and she was well supported by local party members on election day. There was not a booth that wasn't manned by at least a dozen Liberal Party members. I think that's terrific. Unfortunately though, that's what happens in a by-election. In an election, we've got to make sure that every birth is man right across the country, right across the state. And for that we need membership renewal. That's so important. So those policies that reflect the mainstream but also we have to renew the party itself.
PETA CREDLIN: Tom, jump in here. Who are the Liberals? Who do they represent now? Yeah, who are the Liberals? What do they represent?
TOM SWITZER: Well, opinion varies. If you read the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age and The Guardian and by the ABC Radio and to some extent television today, you'll think that the liberal party needs to move further to the left of the political spectrum to be more like Labor but you know, as John Howard and Peter Costello all too often said the Liberal Party is the custodian of this center. Rife tradition and the successful federal leaders, Liberal leaders win power from opposition from the center right now from Fraser in 1975. John Howard, in 1996 year old boss Tony Abbott, in 2013. They won from the center right they distinguish themselves from the Labor opponents and the Canberra groupthink, but cowardly ideologically rudderless leaders in the throes of fashionable opinion. They just melt away into the media mind meld. Now I accept that in some electorates. They're more progressive than other parts of the country. And the Liberal Party needs to tell her its message but nevertheless, all things considered the Liberal Party will lose a lot more voters on its ride, if it thinks it can be a pale imitation of the Labor Party.
PETA CREDLIN: Senator Jane Hume and Tom Switzer, thank you.