Liberal Party tactics undermine Australian democracy

Liberal Party tactics undermine Australian democracy

Revelations that Peter Dutton supporters bullied their colleagues into signing the petition that brought on a leadership spill and ousted former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have grim implications for Australian democracy.

We all knew Libspill was brutally bloody and driven purely by self-interest (it clearly wasn’t in the interest of the country), but these latest allegations against the Dutton camp mark a low point in Australian politics.

So, what happened?

Supporters of Dutton, who twice attempted to take the leadership and failed, allegedly targeted MPs during divisions to try to force them to sign the petition, after then-Prime Minister Turnbull demanded to see a petition with 43 names (a majority of Liberal MPs and Senators) before calling for a vote on the leadership.

According to the allegations, they would also enter colleagues’ offices without invitation and refuse to leave unless they signed the petition.

Those who did not support Dutton’s leadership bid were told their preselection would be at risk if they refused to back him, and were pressured to reveal their ballot to a specific colleague to prove how they voted.

Think about it for a second: we elect representatives with the expectation that they will act independenty and put their electorate’s interests, and the interests of the broader Australian community, first and foremost.

That is democracy. That is why we pay them.

Frankly, I don’t know who’s worse: those who did the bullying or those who caved. To force MPs to vote one way or another is to pervert our democracy, that’s for sure. But to give in to the threat of losing preselection is to put your political career above the people you serve. Both are despicable.

Of course, the allegations are still to be proven. A number of Dutton’s backers, including Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Andrew Hastie, Michael Sukkar, James Paterson, Zed Seselja, Tony Pasin and Jonathon Duniam, have denied any knowledge of, or involvement in, the alleged bullying.

It’s up to the party to conduct an investigation. But ask the question: why would Liberal MPs forefeit the next election by marking their party with yet another scandal?

The Liberal Party has shown a complete disregard for the Australian people, but we are not powerless. Remember this at the next election.

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