PODCAST EPISODE

Liar Liar, Liberal Branch Stacking and Defamation

New Politics: Australian Politics

10-11-2021 • 37 mins


There won’t be a federal election in the short term, but that doesn’t mean campaigning can’t start early. It feels like the election campaign has already commenced, with Scott Morrison wanting to ‘move on’ from all the errors from the past and present his best face to the public. But this depends on the fine art of the political lie, of which Morrison is happy to contribute to. In 2004, John Howard opened his campaign with “who do you trust on the economy?”, flushing out memories of continuous ‘mean and tricky’ lies, and helping him to roll Mark Latham and the Labor Party on election day. Morrison will use this same strategy but he’s not as clever as Howard, and he’s not up against Latham. Will it work? He’ll certainly try it out. Two and half years after Anthony Albanese decreed ‘no Labor MP will use “liar” to describe their opponents’, the term has become very fashionable and Labor is now calling Morrison a liar at every opportunity. Which means its focus group testing is suggesting Morrison’s propensity to lie and misrepresent everything in sight is become a serious problem for him. Branch stacking occurs in all political parties but it seems that there are different media rules when it comes to reporting Liberal Party malfeasance. The Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar has been accused of implementing a tax-payer funded system, where political staffers had the task of signing up Opus Dei, neo-Nazis and fascists as members of the Liberal Party, so Sukkar could hold control of the Victoria branch of the Liberal Party. The media has been reporting about these issues but, essentially, it’s just providing the facts without the running commentary which they always provide when the Labor Party is involved in branch stacking – ‘The MP needs to be expelled! Daniel Andrews needs to resign! Albanese too!’ But they’ve been strangely quiet in creating a link with Scott Morrison, and when Josh Frydenberg suggested there was nothing to see here, they shrugged their shoulders and ‘moved on’. Which is just the way the Liberal Party would like it. And in keeping with the Liberal Party’s form in terrorising women of all persuasions, two Liberal Party MPs – Christian Porter and Andrew Laming – have threatened defamation action against the academic, Gemma Carey, who posted offensive Twitter messages about these men, who then removed those messages and publicly apologised for these messages. For most people, this would be enough, but these Liberal Party MPs are glass-jawed and their action is all about shutting up the people who criticise the government and members of this government. And we’re seeing why the Liberal Party encourages illiberal people such as right-wing religious fanatics, neo-Nazis and fascists to become a part of their membership. They’re very happy to dish out the abuse, but will ensure that when members of the public try to return serve, they’ll use laws inappropriately to crush dissent.

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