KEEP CALM: Unless there is a sudden dramatic reversal of the counting trend thus far, there will be a new Member for Wentworth when Federal Parliament resumes next year. But that's nothing to panic about says Colin Claridge.
KEEP CALM: Unless there is a sudden dramatic reversal of the counting trend thus far, there will be a new Member for Wentworth when Federal Parliament resumes next year. But that's nothing to panic about says Colin Claridge. CHRIS PAVLICH

'Wentworth result a rejection of the hard Right's antics'

FEDERAL Parliament has risen for the next couple of weeks, ahead of the final sitting of the year.

When it resumes, there'll be a new Member for Wentworth.

And unless there is a sudden dramatic reversal of the counting trend thus far, that Member will not be a Conservative party member.

The first time in the seat's 117-year existence.

But...

There is no cause to panic!

It's not the end of civilisation as we know it. Minority government doesn't necessarily result in paralysis of government or turmoil. (At least it doesn't need to be.)

As the likely incoming Member Dr Phelps has put it on public record that she won't be withholding supply and will examine legislation and judge each on its merits, there is no reason to suspect she won't be true to her word. So, bad luck to anyone hoping for some sort of Constitutional crisis.

There is really no reason for the Morrison Government to rush to an early election. (Not that the calendar makes that possible. With Victoria and NSW both holding state elections in the next few months, it leaves no room to sandwich a federal poll in before May.)

Minority government should not prevent the Government from operating effectively.

The majority of the six crossbench MPs are quite-reasonable people and the Government only needs one of them to support their legislative ambitions for the remainder of this term.

So, even if the Greens' Adam Bandt was to habitually side with Labor and MPs McGowan, Wilkie, Sharkey and Phelps were to vote on each Bill as their consciences dictate, one suspects Bob Katter isn't going to act against type.

The likely election of Dr Kerryn Phelps to the House of Representatives marked the unprecedented loss by a Government of one of their safest seats.

Control of the House has slipped somewhat from the Coalition's firm grasp. But their fate still remains firmly in their own hands. But will they truly heed the warning the people of Wentworth delivered?

Labor cannot claim credit for the result. Figures indicate their support also declined from the last election.

The result clearly stated in no uncertain terms the voters in that electorate's distaste with how the Liberal Party treated their former Member. It was a repudiation of the hard right's antics and a rejection of Labor as an alternative.

One suspects that any hope the Liberal Party has of regaining the seat from Dr Phelps will rest with how the Coalition behaves between now and the general election.

The circumstances leading to the by-election were aptly described as "that week of madness”.

The week leading up to the by-election can equally be described as that week of sheer lunacy.

Never has an Australian political party looked so disinterested in retaining a seat.

A series of ill thought through announcements ranging from the rights of gay school students, moving our embassy in Israel, to the alleged insult of the former President of Kiribati by our Environment Minister had to be absolutely exasperating for those involved in the Sharma campaign.

The parade of Coalition MPs deciding to further infuriate Wentworth voters by attacking Turnbull for not turning up to support Dave Sharma was the last thing the campaign needed.

I don't know who was managing the Liberal campaign but I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't now in therapy. I feel sorry for them, as I do for Dave Sharma.

He's the kind of quality Liberal candidate so many have been crying out for. Which probably also means he's the type of candidate some in the party don't want.

Hence, what could be construed as internal sabotage. Sharma deserves another chance to win a seat. If not Wentworth (which might prove difficult to win back anytime soon if Dr Phelps proves to be an excellent Member), then another seat.

We heard it again on the weekend: The contrite apologies from party leaders that they have heard the message in the aftermath of an electoral shock.

But we've heard it all before, haven't we. Things will not change and the Liberal Party's electoral prospects will never improve until they deal once and for all with the wreckers from the hard right.

As I said, Dave Sharma is the kind of candidate the Libs desperately need.

Perhaps he'd make a really good Member for Warringah.

Gympie Times


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