Today, Online Opinion has published a piece I have written regarding the Abbott government’s early approach to controversial issues. In a nutshell, the new Prime Minister is doing as much as he needs to do, not as much as he should do.
In the absence of any credible political threat on the right, all the Liberal & National parties need to do to keep faith with conservative voters is be less ‘progressive’ than Labor and the Greens. Doing nothing ticks this box. Big time.
I’m not suggesting that Tony Abbott has done nothing since his election. There have been some positive changes. But mostly they don’t go far enough.
There is room for a minor conservative party to gain ground on the right, if it is prepared to stand strong and protect marriage, counter-attack hard on climate change, champion the rights of Christians to speak freely and, above all, highlight the absolute need for Australia to control its own borders.
A little over two months into office, the Abbott government is facing four big tests on four big issues linked to social views: homosexual marriage, climate change, free speech and border protection. And on all of these issues, it looks likely to pass.
That’s because in politics, a pass is not linked to policies but perception, although well-implemented policies have a natural tendency to be well-received by the voting public.
Starting with homosexual marriage, the situation facing Prime Minister Abbott is not as plain as that presented by the general media. The perception is that the Abbott government opposes changing the definition of marriage. But the case is not so clear cut. Abbott is personally against redefining marriage, but he is no longer definitively opposed to a conscience vote.
This is because the Liberal Party room now has a much more socially-liberal lean. Voters rejected Kevin Rudd’s plan to legalise ‘gay marriage’, but in doing so it appears that they actually elected an increased number of Coalition members who support the idea. This has led prominent Liberals, like Malcolm Turnbull, to comment that a conscience vote is likely.
You can read the full piece here.