Vote Tony Out: On AusPol, Warringah and the Liberal Party today

This week, Malcolm Turnbull faced criticism over the “Vote Tony Out” Instagram page. But with the Liberal party in its current state, I can’t help but feel it might be a good idea.



Is it just me or does it feel like politics in this country has resorted to a farcical display of childish slights and determined dogmatism? Where are the grown-ups, just quietly?

This week brings news of a group of liberal (and by liberal, I mean anything but) members of Roseville Branch looking to expel Malcolm Turnbull from said Liberal Party (and by Liberal Party I mean the let’s-not-even-pretend-anymore Conservative Party) for following an Instagram account called Vote Tony Out. Ex-PM Turnbull himself pointedly reminded the nation that freedom matters. One could be forgiven for thinking that the idea of freedom is a cornerstone of liberal ideology. Clearly not amongst our current lot of big L “Liberals”. Unless it’s the freedom to discriminate based on ludicrously outdated ideas about what defines a loving relationship. Never mind.

Tony himself, who can be relied on to be myopically self-unaware, was quick to assume good intentions. Perhaps Malcolm was staying up at night making social media choices with an eye to keeping the member from Warringah in power? I guess in politics anything is possible.

For my two cents’ worth this whole country would be better off if the sensible people of Warringah ditched the climate change denying ex-PM for someone a little more progressive and a little more reflective of their values. Yes, I know he rides bikes for charity and offers up his time saving lives of people who can’t swim or get caught in bushfires, but I want someone intelligent and – how shall I say it? Liberal? – directing the conversation in government. Why he remains the media’s go to guy on issues he clearly has no authority on astounds me. I am tired of hearing from him. It’s time to move on.

I am also disengaged from ScoMo (he is our current PM in case you find it hard to keep up). There is a patronising tone to his jolly announcements about what is best for us, and its hard not to smell a distinctly unpleasant note of desperation in his footy-dad-does-BBQ routine. Plus, he thinks prayer is a feasible policy alternative to drought management. It’s enough to make you cry into your Weet-Bix.

I have this dream where Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull get together and launch a centre-left party. A real liberal party, with freedom and economic common sense and fairness as its compass. A modern take on politics, with a secular vision fertilised by scientific understanding. And I don’t just mean that only as it relates to climate change and a space program, but more so how it relates to human behaviour and societal cohesion. A government that understands that safe and prosperous societies are not eat-or-be-eaten systems, and that societies that favour the privileged over the unlucky inevitably end up in unrest and strife.

Good governments surely should recognise that both beliefs and privilege are almost always a consequence of the random act of your birth, and in doing so, build societies in which the opportunity to prosper is available for all, regardless of one’s background or upbringing or gender or sexual orientation. John Rawls, an American philosopher, once proposed a thought experiment that suggested if we designed our society from behind a veil of ignorance – that is a place where you had no information about what position you would occupy in that society – we would opt for much fairer societies where rights, freedoms and benefits are evenly and equally accessed. Ah, the impossible dream.

If nothing else, maybe at least the residents of Warringah could do the rest of us a favour and oust Tony stage left. It would be a winner all round. Our newsfeeds would be free of his thoughts, and he would have more time to give to the Rural Fire Service, especially given the role he has played in shaping a future where bushfires are just going to get worse.


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