I don’t know how he does it, but whenever there seems to be anything difficult facing us as a government Brendan Nelson swoops in and rescues us. The last few days have been a little tense with speculation growing as to who will be the winners and losers in our first budget, but Brendan has swept that all aside today by uttering The M Word.
Yes it seems that a Liberal Party – National Party merger is on the cards again. I couldn’t have timed it better if I’d personally been directing Dr Nelson’s press secretary. What this is essentially about, is the Liberal Party trying desperately to grab members and resources before the Nats disappear into political oblivion. While on the face of it this is a good idea, after all that Nationals haven’t said no to the Libs over anything since the 70’s, when you drill down it’s a potential disaster for both parties.
There are two issues that complicate this issue. The first is that the grassroots members of each party hold each other in disdain, they see the Coalition as a necessary evil to keep us out of power and would find it hard to work within a united party.
The second problem that they have is that the State branches are in such differing conditions. In my home state of Queensland the Liberal Party was essentially destroyed during the Joh years, meaning that the Nats continue to be the senior Coalition partner, something they would loathe relinquishing. In Victoria the parties hate each other so much that they’ve only recently formed a coalition again, having been independent since Kennett was kicked out. There’s no way these states are going to conform to some model proposed by the Federal parties.
This is before you throw the ‘Barnaby Factor’ into the mix, we’ve already seen how effective the new leadership is, so how Mr 7 per cent thinks he can pull off a major structural change to the parties is beyond me. The important thing from my perspective is that they keep talking about it. There’s nothing like having a sideshow keeping the hacks entertained while you go about actually achieving things in government.