Imposition of right-wing candidate intensifies turmoil in Australia’s ruling party
26 January 2019
The factional infighting tearing apart the Liberal-National Coalition, a mainstay of capitalist rule in Australia for 70 years, worsened this week when Prime Minister Scott Morrison installed indigenous businessman Warren Mundine as the Liberal Party’s candidate for an electorate south of Sydney, triggering a backlash by local party members.
The anointment of Mundine, an associate of ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott, overrode the party branches’ previous election of a local real estate agent. It is another indicator of a concerted drive to refashion the Liberal Party along Trump-style right-wing populist lines as a means of diverting mounting social discontent.
Morrison, who was himself installed as party leader last August via a factional operation to oust his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, is a leading figure in the party’s most right-wing faction, led by Abbott and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
By “parachuting” Mundine in as the party’s candidate for Gilmore, on the New South Wales (NSW) south coast, Morrison and his backers have sent a message of their determination to restructure the party, even if it means a disastrous result in the imminent federal election, which must be held by mid-May.
Local Liberal Party parliamentarians and branch members reacted with outrage when the party’s NSW state executive moved to overturn the preselection of Grant Schultz at Morrison’s behest. Schulz announced he had quit the party and would contest the seat as an independent, personally denouncing Morrison and accusing the party of betraying democracy.
Long-serving NSW south coast state MP Shelley Hancock, the speaker of the NSW lower house, said it was…