Democratic processes


Did my civic duty early and voted today in the Victorian state election. Election day is not till the 24th, but there’s always a rush on the day, besides, I’ll be away on a golf weekend. Good to get it out of the way, and an easy decision too – one of the candidates gets things done, the other is a ratbag.

As usual, there were people handing out flyers with earnest persistence. I escaped the clutches of an eager Socialist asking if I knew about the “upper house deals being done.” I told her I knew all about it – a slight fib, I know some, but the truth is I know all I want to know about it.

I stood in line and as always refused every bit of electioneering guff with a polite no thank-you. It’s a waste of paper and I always know who I’m voting for regardless. It’s fascinating nonetheless. The unassuming Labor types, a grim-looking woman telling us it was time to ‘take back control’, another earnest and passionate Socialist I’d happily share a bottle with, and a lovely middle-aged woman who seemed to epitomise the Greens.

It took me back to a time – many years ago – when I was one of them. I’ve written about this before, so will keep it brief. I was a scrutineer for the republican movement for the referendum in 1999. It was an interesting and unexpected experience – I became ‘it’ because there was no-one else there to do it. I set up that morning stringing our banners up early on a cold winters morning and ahead of our monarchist opponents who arrived after I did. Take that royalist scum, I thought.

On this occasion, the royalist scum happened to be a lovely, reasonable man who’d had the foresight to bring a thermos of hot coffee with him. When he offered me a cup midway through the morning I hesitated, wondering if I would compromise my political integrity if I accepted it. I was easily bought it seems, and that little episode has informed much of my political thinking ever since. We demonise our opponents when they’re in the abstract. Face to face we realise often they are reasonable people with a view a little different from our own. I guess it’s about respect, ultimately. As it happened this guy was not against the republic per se, just against the model being voted on. That’s all down to John Howard, a man I have no respect for.

Funnily enough this week I had a passing thought that I would nominate as an independent senator prior to the next federal election. It wasn’t entirely random, I’ve thought about it occasionally in recent times – and why not? I’m informed, I’m informed and I’m educated – which is more than can be said for much of the riff-raff being voted I these days. I’d like to make a difference.

Even if I did nominate it’s a million to one against being voted in, but I’ve got a lot better chance in the Senate than in the house of reps. It’s unlikely I’ll do it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Advertisements

Rotting fish


Cricket Australia released its report into the culture of the Australian cricket team yesterday. It was scathing, not just of the culture within the team, but of the ethics and culture of cricket administration in general. It was welcome news.

What’s not so welcome is how CA have effectively siloed responsibility. We have three high profile cricketers banned from playing international or local domestic cricket for 12 months – a penalty that much exceeds what the statutes recommended. The penalties were widely accepted by an Australian public shocked and horrified by the events of South Africa, and in general, wearied by the petulant behaviour of the national team. I was one of those.

It’s no surprise to find that the actions of a few players on-field were in character with the general ethos of the administration in general. To be clear, I’m not suggesting CA condones cheating or abuse, but in the quest to be number one I doubt there was any clear distinction and much that was blurred. Certainly, there appeared much that was accepted, if only by omission.

The problem now is that while the players have been vilified and penalised much of the administration has got off scot free. True, the coach left of his own volition, and Pat Howard, the performance manager, is going also (as he should), but the higher echelons of CA are unscathed. This imbalance was highlighted by the fact that the chairman was reinstated (upon his insistence) before the report was sighted. If nothing else this is a perversion of due process, but very much aligns with the criticisms outlined in the report. It doesn’t inspire one with confidence.

If only for the optics, there should have been a root and branch review of positions, and I would have hoped that key figures would have accepted it was time for them to step aside, as James Sutherland did. Instead, we have a situation where the administration, by and large, survives – despite explicit criticism – while the penalised players carry the can. Now that’s un-Australian.

Everyone has an opinion on something like this. They talk about culture and so on, and yeah, that’s valid, but it comes down to leadership in my book. This situation would never have occurred had there been strong, just leadership. Unfortunately – as in many industries – CA has fallen into the habit in recent years of promoting people to roles they’re not fully capable of.

Let’s start with Steve Smith, a great batsman and, on the strength of that, made captain, as so often is the case, as if the ability to wield the willow automatically equates to superior leadership qualities. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I’ve been saying this for years, Smith never had the innate authority required to do the role effectively. To be a leader you need to stand for something, you need to be strong in your principles and character, and you must compel those who follow. Smith lacked all of those qualities. It was unreasonable and unfair to put someone like that in that role, and we paid the consequences.

Then there was Boof Lehmann. Nice guy by all accounts, and probably a handy (but limited) coach. He’s also a bit of an old-fashioned yobbo very much out of step with the mores of society today. Smith allowed things to develop out of weakness, and Lehmann because he never took them seriously enough.

Then you’ve got the chairman, who took an adversarial approach in the pay negotiations last year, and who has a history in adversarial industrial relations when he was at Rio Tinto. It’s the wrong character set and wrong approach all down the line, and we see how it’s played out.

I think this report is good and some of the steps taken thus far are appropriate – Tim Paine, for example, epitomises the sort of leadership we should be aspiring to. That’s not enough though. Changes have been made within the test team, but at the top end, nothing has changed. I don’t think there are many who would disagree when I suggest that Peever should have stepped down, and still should. Until that happens there cannot be complete confidence in this board, or in the steps they take to rectify the sins of the past.

PS Peever resigned as Chairman a couple of days after I wrote this, as he should have from the start. The whole thing poorly managed. In a situation like this doing the right thing and being seen as doing the right thing are almost equally important. They got the optics wrong – more evidence, unfortunately, of how out of touch and arrogant they are. Hopefully the new chairman, whoever he is, will make a difference.

Tide is turning


Many years ago I lived in the Wentworth electorate. It’s a wealthy part of the world but is also very pretty. I lived in Watsons Bay, just about on the tip of South Head. Watsons Bay has a quaint appeal, a bit sleepier than the more glitzy suburbs of Vaucluse and Double Bay down the road on the 325 bus.

I loved living in Watsons Bay, so much so that most visits to Sydney now include a visit there to sit in the beer garden of the pub, or walk along Gibsons Beach, as so often I did back in the day.

Wentworth is in all the news today because yesterday, and for the first time, someone other than a Liberal MP was voted into federal parliament. This is a notable moment in Australian politics and marks – I hope – a turning point. Up till yesterday, Wentworth was the safest of blue ribbon Liberal seats, and it took a swing of historic proportions to upset that. Hopefully, it is a harbinger of things to come.

As I do with most notable elections I set myself to watch the developments last night from the comfort of my couch. By little after 7 it was all over – the pundits declared the seat for Kerryn Phelps, the Independent, and I switched over to watch the A-League.

The result last night was the bitter pay-off for the nasty and underhand shenanigans that led to Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister and Wentworth incumbent, being deposed. He was a popular member in an electorate better educated than most, and more progressive than the usual Liberal seat. He embodied their small l liberal beliefs, and they were angry.

The whole thing is symptomatic of an utterly dysfunctional Liberal party. They trailed in the polls when Turnbull was in charge, but he was the more favoured leader. Many in the electorate had been disappointed by his performance but retained a belief that he shared similar values. He was the acceptable face of an increasingly toxic coalition. That small bonus became a negative once he was ousted and, after a farcical few days, the utter buffoon Morrison became PM.

Since Turnbull was ousted Labor have increased their lead in the polls. A safe seat has had an unnecessary by-election and been lost that would have been easily held otherwise, resulting now in a hung parliament. An urbane and intelligent leader has been replaced by a hectoring buffoon so generally incompetent that you have to question how he ever made it so far. (I can see him running the local newsagency, but that’s his limit.) Policy making is on the run, reactive to events and polls and primarily concerned with shoring up crumbling support – even so, it is so badly misjudged in intent and executed so poorly that it leads to contempt and ridicule.

This is the big takeaway out of this result. The people of Wentworth have protested. They’re unhappy with what happened with Malcolm, but they’re also sick and tired of a shambolic government that doesn’t represent their interests. Big issues for the electorate were climate change and the refugees on Nauru, issues the Liberal party is disdainful of.

This is why I think the worm may have turned, though it’s taken much longer than it should have. The government has been allowed to get away with general inaction on these topics till now. News Corp has had their back and much of the rest of the media has been pliable (they don’t break news any more, they report it only after it has finally broken). Lobbyists and other interested parties have been in the ears of government ministers and plying the party with donations. And, of course, the RWNJ wing of the party has been vocal and generally destructive in support of retrograde policies. More broadly, there seems to be a mistaken belief inside the party that their so-called ‘base’ is on board with their policies.

Let me break the news. Most Australians believe climate change is real and want some action. Many of us have for years called for asylum seekers to be treated more humanely. The base they allude to is no more than the raucous jeering of conservative ratbags on the fringe of the society, given a megaphone by Rupert Murdoch’s press. This is not Australia. This, certainly, is not Wentworth. This is now, and if they’re smart enough the libs will realise it – but they won’t, and even if they did the kamikazes on the right would sabotage it regardless. The Libs are dead.

I’ve been wary of saying that, but I feel as if the tide has turned. The overwhelming result yesterday is testament to the impatience of the Australian people. If this can happen in a safe Liberal seat, what lies in store across the land? This genie is now – finally – out of the bottle.

I seriously wonder what will happen to the Liberal party. About 18 months ago I raised the prospect of a complete fracture within the parliamentary party. I still think that is very possible, and potentially inevitable. The ideological schism between the conservatives and moderates is too great and too bitter to go on. I can see the conservative faction breaking off to become a traditional conservative party and aligning themselves generally with the likes of One Nation and Cory Bernardi. They’ll take their inspiration from Trump – and there’s a lot of Trump in recent Morrison edicts – and pursue their hardline agenda.

That will leave the moderate rump of the Liberal party remaining – that’s the party of Fraser, and Menzies before him, and Turnbull if he was still around. It’s the party I would flirt with voting for – economically conservative, socially liberal.

If that was to happen it would have a domino effect. The Labor party would have to re-position themselves, probably slightly more to the left than at present, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

As you may gather, I’m greatly heartened by the signs. We still have another six months of this government, and anything can happen – but I feel in my heart as if we might just survive the general conservative, reactionary, Trumpian fervour that has engulfed so much of the world. Fingers crossed.

 

Random perspectives


There’s been a bunch of things happen in the last ten days which have exercised my mind but which I haven’t commented on. More often than not I’ll never comment because I won’t get around to it, but today I reckon I’ll set my thoughts down to the lot of them and be done with it.

One of the big issues last week was the Mark Knight cartoon referencing the Serena Williams eruption at the US Open. As soon as I saw it I thought, uh oh. Very clearly it features a racist caricature of Williams, and anyone who doesn’t recognise it is either terribly ignorant or deeply racist. I can’t see any ambiguity in it, though Knight himself reckons it was drawn without racist intent.

There’s a couple of problems with that. To start with, Knight has history. Not long ago he depicted black gang members in very broad and offensive terms also. On that occasion, he drew the figures in scurrilous detail, while perpetuating a false stereotype of black youth gangs over-running Melbourne – which, as anyone sensible living here will tell you, is utter nonsense. He has drawn similar cartoons in the past, and though cartoonists are permitted some artistic licence – much of what they do, after all, is exaggerated and made a caricature – there must be sensitive to culture and history, which is where the second problem emerges.

I remember about ten years ago there was a huge outcry when a local TV program had a talent show in which some contestants got up in blackface. It took me a long time to get my head around that. Unlike North America, blackface has not the same resonant and racist overtones, and the contestants themselves likely did it as a bit of fun, rather than looking to perpetuate a stereotype. That was my view then, but it has evolved since as I, and we, have become better informed. It’s safe to say we’re much better educated on these matters now, which is why I knew it was racist the moment I saw the cartoon. Knight pleads innocence in this matter (and has since doubled down), but that no longer washes in this day and age, though I believe there are still many uneducated who are effectively ignorantly racist.

It wasn’t a particularly clever cartoon in any case. He’s a fine draughtsman, but he has none of the wit or insight of a Rowe or Pope or even a Wilcox.

There was a great outcry also over Steve Bannon being interviewed for 4 Corners. 4 Corners is a venerable ABC program. I’ll watch it most weeks, and it’s record of breaking news and catalysing change is unequalled in Australian television.

On this occasion, it was the left that felt by giving a voice to Bannon the ABC was condoning his views.

My instinct on this is almost the opposite. I recognise there are limits, people unworthy of airtime, or who are so dreadful that any exposure is poisonous. We don’t need to see them on TV. But otherwise, in the spirit of free speech and equal opportunity, as well as in the hope of being educated, my strong belief is that we shouldn’t be shutting down the voices we don’t agree with. That amounts to censorship.

I’m of the left myself, though I’d call myself a moderate liberal. I don’t believe in the extremes on either side, where it tends to get rabid, and I’m a great advocate for the democratic principles our society is founded on. That means allowing for a broad range of voices to be heard. Speaking for myself, I like to understand. I’ll often read opinions I disagree with or find offensive, but it’s useful for me to understand what their arguments are and how they think.

In the case of Bannon, I think that applies very neatly. He was the guiding philosophy behind the current American president, and his broad manifesto has many advocates around the world, including in Australia. I think that makes him a relevant opinion, even if toxic. So, on the one hand, I believe he was a worthy subject for the program, but unfortunately, that required a more rigorous interview than what occurred. Bannon, a savvy player, manipulated the interview to his advantage. I’m a great admirer of Sarah Ferguson, but in this instance, she didn’t hold Bannon to account.

The ABC, being the national broadcaster, has a responsibility to present a range of views and opinions. They get unfairly criticised by the right for being partisan to the left. Here they present a right-wing view and get pilloried by the left. Somewhere in this democratic principles are lost, which is one of my great fears these days.

As I’ve noted before, we live in a binary age when everything is either black or white, right or wrong, left or right. Our public discourse has become unsophisticated and hostile. There’s little nuance and often no acceptance of contrary views. This is true of both sides. It’s dispiriting observing the battles between the rival views, and though I’m inclined to a left perspective I find myself dismayed still reading intractable and inflammatory views in support of that.

Let me make this clear. I’m not going to tell anyone how they should lead their life. As a general rule, I’m not going to abuse someone who disagrees with me, exceptions possibly being rabid bigots and fascists. If possible I’ll sit and listen and then unpick contrary arguments – I’d rather debate than pronounce. I believe in individuality and fear that if we get our way we might end up with a society of drones. I believe in difference, which is where creativity springs from. And, regardless of my personal ideology, I’ll attempt to approach every issue with a rational mindset. Finally, I don’t believe anything is one thing or another – we live in a world of degrees, imperfect and flawed but amazingly diverse. Any other notion is nonsense.

This week’s outrage


The big sporting news over the weekend was Serena William’s blow-up in the final of the US Open. As so often these days it has taken on a much greater and political significance than it merits.

The bare facts are these. Having lost the first set it is early in the second set when the chair umpire penalises Williams’ for ‘coaching’ – her coach had been spotted in the stands giving hand signals to her, which is disallowed. She protests vociferously but the penalty stands. She loses that game on serve and violently smashes her racquet and is penalised another point, as the rules dictate. It’s at this point she goes ballistic.

Williams starts to abuse the chair umpire, upset that she has essentially been branded a cheat, and invoking her colour and gender. She calls the chair umpire a cheat. It continues in ugly fashion and finally the umpire penalises her for abuse by calling the game on her. Williams’ calls in the referees, but to no avail.

The match goes on in front of a restive New York crowd who hoot and catcall and boo and in the end Williams loses to Naomi Osaka. The circus continues, robbing Osaka of what should have been a great moment in her life.

Afterwards Williams’ continues her spray in the press conference, once more suggesting that the actions by the chair umpire were both racist and sexist in nature. This theme is taken up by many thousands across the world outraged by what they believe to be the victimisation of Williams’. Social media is bitter with competing perspectives on the events. It’s all very 2018.

I had an immediate reaction to the news when I heard it, before it became political. I’m one of those people who dislike Serena Williams, and have done for a long time. I think she’s a graceless and insincere person who’s all smiles when things are going her way, but who turns into a hostile and aggressive person when it doesn’t. She may claim persecution but the fact is she has form. In past finals she has turned on umpires and linespeople when the game has gone against her, spouting vitriolic bile – and these have been female officials. My general feel is that her actions are those of a person of entitlement who becomes petulant when the game doesn’t go her way, and when her exalted status counts for nothing. Let’s not forget she is the most successful tennis player of all time, and has the riches to go with it, and playing a young, humble Japanese in her first final. She’s not the David here, she’s the Goliath, and her behaviour is a form of bullying.

Those are my observations, but let’s set them aside for the facts in this case.

Firstly, there’s no doubt coaching occurred – her coach admitted it. Whether Williams’ saw or acted on the coaching is irrelevant, as are her claims of lilywhite behaviour. Her coach is not going to wait until the final to begin coaching, so there’s little doubt that Williams’ has been a recipient of it in the past, contrary to her claims. So, there’s that, but should she have been penalised?

The letter of the law says that the penalty was justified. The issue with that is that coaching is commonplace and rarely called. The chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, is known to be one of the best umpires, as you would expect for a final, as well as being a stickler. I don’t think he can be blamed for what he did, but a warning might have been appropriate in the circumstances.

In regards to the broken racquet then that’s a clear code violation and penalty.

The remaining question is how he should have responded to Williams ranting and abuse. Personally I’m all for umpires taking a hard line. Like many people I’m sick and tired of the petulant antics of these professional sportspeople. By all means crack down on them.

That may be so, but was this fair? That’s where a great deal of the contention comes from, with many suggesting that men are allowed to get away with much more.

I’m thinking hard on this and its difficult because there are degrees of abuse. I can recall McEnroe being penalised repeatedly, and even having a match forfeited at one stage. Most of the leading men these days are very well behaved. The outliers perhaps are players like Kyrgios, who has been penalised occasionally, and who’s rants more generally tend to be against the world. I think Williams’ was unnecessarily personal in her abuse, but in any case I would totally support anyone – male or female – being penalised as she was when justified.

I certainly don’t believe it was either sexist or racist and the suggestion is offensive in general and, more particularly, to the chair umpire, who has no opportunity to defend himself. He is being effectively bullied by a powerful sportsperson and her legion of fans. It’s very unseemly.

To summarise, the chair umpire ruled to the letter of the law and shouldn’t be criticised for that. What makes it controversial (putting aside the political spin) is the inconsistent application of these laws.
This is not a view that will be popular with many. I don’t care, but I think any possible ambiguity can be removed going forward if the rules of the game are applied consistently and evenly.

  • Crack down on coaching. Penalise any who transgress.
  • There’s already a rule in place about racquet abuse. Stick to it.
  • And when it comes to abuse of any umpire go hard. It’s not to be tolerated. It might make a difference to the sport, and it sends a wider message to the community.

This is what the tennis authorities should do now. Come out in support of Ramos, and make it clear in future that no infraction of the rules will be tolerated.

Musical chairs


In the end it was quite comical. Leadership of the Libs came down to a game of musical chairs, and when the music stopped Morrison was the new leader. He’s basically the Stephen Bradbury of Australian politics. After all the in-fighting and backstabbing, the striving, the bullying, the bellicose statements and brazen defiance, it was the man who had said least, the man who had actually stood by Turnbull when others abandoned him, who ended up being the man to replace him as Prime Minister.
One of the funniest aspects is that Peter Dutton, who contrived this ridiculous challenge and was so aggressive in promulgating it, set it up only to have someone take the prize. The Stephen Bradbury analogy is apt as everyone fell down leaving Morrison the last man standing. It was shoddily done by Dutton and his lieutenants and leaves him with egg on his face and potentially mortally wounded, but it also leaves the body politic in a much worse position.

The government itself is damaged to the point that it would take a miracle for them to be re-elected. Their credibility is shot to pieces and they’re stuck with a bumpkin as prime minister. And they’ve lost some of their best performers.

Much as he was hated within the party, and even if he was disappointing to many without it, Turnbull was one of the main things they had going for them. A poor politician, he was also clearly intelligent, articulate, and though ultimately irresolute, a decent man as well. Most with an open mind recognised that, and even as a confirmed critic of his I have to say I like him personally and am sorry to see him go out like this.

As well as him, Julie Bishop has stepped down, soured by Machiavellian machinations of the party, and the personal disrespect shown to her through this process. She and Turnbull were the two most popular members of the government and like that they’re gone, kaput! The talent has thinned further with their departure.

I seriously wonder if this will be the end of it. The conservatives of the party, having worked themselves into a fury, are left empty handed. They’re a bitter, angry lot and I’m certain they won’t let it go at this. They have only one objective in mind, getting one of theirs into the top job. Stay tuned.

The reasonable thing would be to call an early general election, but no-one expects that. Unless there’s a dramatic turnaround our next government will be Labor, though not until May next year.

A final word for Tony Abbott and Rupert Murdoch. Both of them are a scourge on Australian politics. Almost single-handedly he’s brought Australian politics to its knees. He’s a pox and in years to come will be seen as the destroyer he is. He has been aided and abetted by News Corp and their rum lot of so-called journalists, ratbags almost to a man. They’re led by Murdoch who sees power as its own reward and wants his version of the world to be represented and will do whatever he can to achieve it. Hence Donald Trump, and almost Peter Dutton. The day he dies will be a day to celebrate in many places in the world.

Huns at the gate


I’ve been following Australian politics for many years. Against my better judgement occasionally I’ve found myself drawn to the drama and conflict, the dynamic personalities and shifting narratives. There’s something Shakespearian in the play of politics, and that’s nowhere truer than in Australia.
In recent years the conflict and often bitter hostility has risen to a febrile pitch, both fascinating and terrible. It has become destructive and ugly and all-consuming. Though no-one seems to comprehend it at the time, there are no winners out of this – not the striving figures on competing sides, policy suffers, as does society, but the biggest losers out of this are the Australian public, who are entitled to expect better. It’s always been fascinating, but nowadays it’s a duel to the death.

For all those years following our politics I’ve never witnessed anything like what’s happened in the last few days. If you were not so dreadfully involved in how things play out you might see the sheer comic lunacy of some of the players and events. Certainly it’s farcical, but it’s also disgusting. Laid bare are the naked ambitions, the scoundrelish disloyalties, the petty selfishness. Few come out of this with any honour and it’s clear to anyone but the most blind that the good of the nation comes well behind individual opportunity in the eyes of those we have elected to serve us.

At some stage today or in the next few days it’s almost certain we’ll have a new prime minister. Who that is is anyone’s guess. It could be Dutton, the man who started all this, or Morrison or Bishop, or maybe even Abbott, god forbid. You never know, Turnbull may even survive by some miracle. Basically despite all the shenanigans of recent days, anything is possible, and good government has been suspended, both literally and figuratively. However it turns out a general election should be called soon after to be decent, but I don’t expect that.

What we are seeing is a war between the moderate and conservative factions of the Liberal party. Turnbull leads the moderates and had he been less compromising and more ruthless this situation might never have arisen. Like Chamberlain in 1938 he seems to have been under the delusion that he could negotiate with the devil. The problem is – as any savvy person knows – the more you give the devil, the more he wants. And the more he despises you. That’s Turnbull all over though – no political judgement.

Bishop is a moderate too, capable and articulate and relatively popular in the electorate, and hated by the conservatives. She’s a better option than Dutton or Morrison, but I don’t know if she’s up to being PM. To be honest, I don’t think she has the desire for it really, and fair enough.

Let’s discount Morrison who, even if he becomes a stand-in PM, is an incompetent buffoon. He’s a pragmatic conservative no-one trusts.

Then there’s Peter Dutton. He represents an existential threat to the Liberal party as we have come to know it. I’ve written about him before. He’s cold and calculating, a shrewd and ruthless operator beholden to a conservative ideology foreign to most Australians, but shared by the hard right rump of the Liberal party. They’re climate change sceptics, were against the same-sex marriage legislation, and in some cases promote a narrative verging on the racist. They’re in the pocket of big business and so promote old technologies such as coal fired power stations against cleaner and more efficient options – yet it aligns with their backward looking philosophies. They promote a toxic line that diminishes the people outside of that bracket – the many, if you like – concerned with getting the pay-rise long delayed while having their penalty rates cut. They are egged on at every step by News Corp, who are a pox wherever they set foot.

The first problem is this is not the government the people voted for. They’re blithely arrogant believing they know best, but a great portion of the Australian electorate are hostile to such a conservative ideology. If Dutton was to get up today or tomorrow and then govern until next year when the next election is due, then we the people will be subject to a government that few want.

The greater issue is what this means for the Liberal party. I wrote many months ago that I could see the Liberal party splitting into two. The problem, as I saw it, was the right wing ideologues are fanatics. They broach no opposition. They won’t consider an alternative view. They sneer at the moderate snowflakes. It’s their way or the highway. There’s no compromise in them, and ultimately little practicality. They are the poisonous right wing version of Keating’s basket-weavers of the left, unwilling to deal even if it means political death otherwise.

The only way the Liberal party survives as an entity is if the conservative edge of the party consumes the moderates, but no-one sensible wants that because it becomes a different party. It becomes a narrow party of the right full of hardliners; the moderate middle dies.

We don’t want that because it would be bad for democracy, but the alternative as I see it is that the two factions hive off. The conservatives go further to the right, embracing fellow travellers like One Nation and joining with Cory Bernardi’s ratbags. The moderates make for the sensible middle – the place Turnbull always wanted to sit, slightly to the right of the ALP (but just marginally these days – Labor has trended right too). That might be the best option.

What happens, I don’t know. Worst case scenario is that Dutton becomes PM and we’re stuck with him for the next 9 months. Best case scenario is a general election is called so we can sort this out sensibly. Somewhere in the middle is Bishop as PM, or even Turnbull surviving, not perfect, but better than the Huns.