Ian Macphee was a Liberal member of Goldstein for 16 years between 1974 and 1990 and was a minister during the Fraser government.
I once meant this article to be about how the Liberal Party might reform itself – away from unrepresented power-hungry types, who to further their vested interests inserted supporters into the liberal branches, and back to the party of Menzies and Fraser. , the party I served as a minister, a party that put the electorate first, not its powerful comrades.
But I realize that the Liberal Party cannot reform itself. I just can’t write that article. The rot is too deep; the need for a total reboot is too great.
Like my former colleague Fred Chaney wrote recently, the Liberal Party’s focus is now on cheap everyday political topics not a long-term vision for Australia. I also agree with Fred that we need a federal commission investigating political corruption with full authority to investigate the funding of all political parties, their candidates and independents.
If there could be an independent investigation into the party’s financial aspects, I think it would reveal serious corruption. The fossil fuel industry has been funding the Liberal Party for many years. Hence the failure to adopt progressive climate change policies and Scott Morrison’s refusal to give an independent corruption commission real power.
The party ignores the fact that the majority of voters are aware of the need to act on climate change and oppose the shocking treatment of refugees.
Labor has also shown failures, and some of my friends who have always supported Labor fear that it may also receive funding from fossil fuel companies. Indeed, many have no doubts about this.
For these reasons I strongly support the election of independent candidates in the electorates held by the Liberal Party.
All those chosen appear to be progressive independents who prioritize vital issues while current Liberal members are held to the dictates of headquarters. More importantly, independent candidates are women. For too long we have had male-dominated parliaments with no vision of the problems women face at work and at home.
The independent candidate for Goldstein, my former constituency, is Zoe Daniel, a former prominent ABC reporter, especially on foreign affairs. I have long admired her objectivity and her insights.
A sincere listener, Daniel never talks about people or anticipates what they will say. I believe he will enrich the quality of the federal parliament because he will consult widely in the electorate and represent his views on important issues in Canberra. This is crucial for the functioning of our democracy.
Throughout the campaign, Daniel had constant contact with Goldstein’s constituents in many grassroots meetings. These were mostly small so that as many people as possible could express their views on important matters and not just sit in a large audience. In doing so, Daniel gained the open support of thousands of voters.
I especially witnessed him launch his campaign in a sporting oval. Daniel spoke eloquently and succinctly about many important community concerns and was cheered enthusiastically by a crowd of over 2,000 supporters.
This contrasts markedly with the decades of control of candidates by headquarters in the states and at the federal level. As a result, there has been little discussion among voters, a problem that has been greatly accentuated by the disappearance of local media.
Daniel understands the changing world which is heavily influenced by the astonishing rate of advancement of communication technology. He will work with voters to adapt to it and take full advantage of it. Additionally, with his overseas assignments with ABC, he has a deep understanding of issues important to Australia and the need for policies to be formed here and not imposed from abroad, particularly by the United States.
If no party wins a majority in the upcoming elections, we hope that progressive independents can help form a government they can be proud of.
I’m sure Daniel will work with other progressive independents to help frame policies that mainstream parties will no longer pursue due to vested interests, especially due to funding from fossil fuel companies.
Malcolm Fraser left the Liberal Party when it treated asylum seekers in an inhumane way. I was one of dozens of prominent people who joined him in an effort to found a genuinely liberal party. One of the other activists was a national treasure, a former labor minister, Barry Jones. Sadly, Malcolm died when the formation of the Reform Australia Party had just begun.
I hope now that the emergence of progressive liberals in the upcoming elections will lay the groundwork for the emergence of a reformist party of the kind that Malcolm and his colleagues have sought to found. Much depends on the outcome of the May 21 elections.