The May 21st 2022 federal election was not surprising in that it resulted in an Australian Labor Party (ALP) victory.  However, the ALP won just over thirty percent of the nationwide primary vote.  Therefore, the role of Greens Party preferences was crucial in delivering the ALP victory, albeit with a narrow parliamentary majority.

However, despite this narrow parliamentary majority (seventy-seven seats to the ALP out of one hundred and fifty seats) the May 2022 federal election might go down in history as a transformational one due to its impact on the Liberal Party.  Political historians may mark the 2022 federal election as a political earthquake in which the Liberal Party completed the process of being transformed into a hard right neo-liberal political party.

This transformational process was reflected and was partially facilitated by the Liberals losing six blue ribbon seats to the so-called ‘teal’ independents who were partly funded by the Climate 200 organisation headed by the businessman Simon Holmes a Court. The most dramatic and profound impact of the ‘teal’ successes was Monique Ryan’s electoral victory in the inner eastern Melbourne suburban seat of Kooyong against the then Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

Josh Frydenberg’s defeat to this ‘teal’ independent was almost as important as the overall election result.   This was because Josh Frydenberg’s defeat virtually ensured that Peter Dutton, the Defence Minister in the Morrison government, subsequently became the Opposition Leader, thereby consolidating the transformation of the Liberal Party into a neo-liberal political party. The defeat of Josh Frydenberg also means that talented people such as him will be wary about putting themselves forward for future Liberal Party pre-selection, which is another significant outcome of his defeat.

Furthermore, the defeat of Josh Frydenberg also signified that no matter how much you effectively represent your local community or serve the nation you will not necessarily be re-elected.  For Josh Frydenberg, along with Peter Costello, were Australia’s most effective federal Treasurers. It should not be forgotten that the Covid pandemic which hit Australia and the world in the first quarter of 2020 could have plunged Australia into its worst ever socio-economic crisis.

The potential disruption to Australia’s service sector was massive due to the social isolation constraints wrought by the Covid pandemic crisis. The Morrison government’s response of introducing Job Keeper, which subsidised the payment of wages while employees were temporarily laid off was brilliant!

This policy response also showed that during a steep economic crisis, even centre-right governments become Keynesian.  Therefore, instead of Australia being plunged into the throes of massive and debilitating unemployment, Australia recorded the highest employment rate since 1974! The Morrison government also knew when to turn off the financial assistance so that Australia could transition back to socio-economic normalcy.

The Morrison Government’s Inhospitable Political Climate

The question therefore emerges as to why the Morrison/Frydenberg government was voted out?  One of the important reasons why this government was removed was its perceived ineffectiveness when it came to countering human induced climate change. However, under the Morrison government Australia had achieved a twenty percent reduction in emissions.  Furthermore, for a nation which produces less than two percent of the world’s emissions it was ill-advised for the Morrison government to have committed to an unachievable net zero emissions target by 2050.

This policy commitment only served to legitimatise the misperception that Australia is in a ‘climate emergency’ and that even more has to be done to combat human induced climate change. This is in spite of the fact the world’s two leading emitters, Communist China and India are currently doing little of practical consequence to counter this phenomenon.

It was this perceived inaction on the part of the Morrison government regarding human induced climate change which saw the Greens Party win three more federal seats in the 2022 federal election in addition to the seat of Melbourne which their federal leader Adam Bandt holds. The six seats won by the so-called teals can also be attributed to the indoctrination which a predominately left-wing media has conducted concerning human induced climate change as part of the so-called culture wars. The impact of this massive media bias was such that even in the wealthiest geographical part of Melbourne, the federal seat of Higgins, fell to the ALP due to Greens preferences!!

That is not to say that there are not strategists within the federal coalition’s ranks who are politically savvy when it comes to effectively fighting the culture wars.  For despite the success of the ‘teals’, the Greens and ALP in snaring blue-ribbon Liberal seats the coalition almost won the 2022 federal election!  A political strategy was employed whereby there was dog-whistling by some Liberals (including Prime Minister Scott Morrison) to lower-income earning voters in outer suburban seats who are socially conservative. This political dog-whistling has been analysed and dubbed in previous Social Action Australia (SAA) articles as the Lasch political strategy.

Unleashing the Lasch Political Strategy

The late Professor Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) was an American political scientist who astutely appreciated that much of the lower middle class and the upper working class were socially conservative. As such, Lasch argued that right wing political parties could win over working-class voters at the expence of left-wing political parties. Professor Lasch’s assertion was most vividly apparent in the 1980s with regard to the phenomenon of the so-called Reagan Democrats where millions of working- class Americans voted for President Ronald Reagan.

Australia’s version of the Reagan Democrats was the so-called ‘Howard Battlers’. The application of a Lasch political strategy was most effectively demonstrated in 2001 with the so-called Tampa affair when in August that year the Howard government refused to allow a Norwegian ship carrying predominately Afghan refugees into Australian waters. This incident was a dog whistle to induce-middle class/upper working-class voters to transfer their support from the ALP to the coalition which they did in sufficient numbers to allow the latter to shamefully win the November 2001 federal election.

During the April/May 2022 federal election campaign the then Prime Minister, Scott Morrison tepidly attempted to apply a Lasch political strategy by publicly voicing support for the comments made by *Katherine Deves,[1] the Liberal candidate for the federal Sydney seat of Warringah concerning transgender children participating in sport.

Prime Minister Morrison’s endorsement of Deves’ comments was a dog whistle to lower socio-economic voters in the outer suburbs which nearly won enough of them over to the Liberal Party so that the coalition could have achieved another political miracle by winning the May 2022 federal election.

Scott Morrison was constrained in the application of a Lasch political strategy because of the threat that the ‘teals’ and the Greens Party posed in blue ribbon Liberal seats. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Morrison still applied this Lasch type of political manoeuvre, which had it succeeded, would have amounted to a virtuoso political triumph, perhaps with Josh Frydenberg losing his seat while the coalition was still returned to office, although this outcome would still have ensured Peter Dutton’s eventual elevation to the prime ministership as the confirmed immediate successor to Scott Morrison.

Will Peter Dutton Pursue a Lasch Strategy?

Even though Peter Dutton as Opposition Leader will talk the talk about the Liberal Party being a broad political church it is now expected that he will apply a Lasch political strategy therefore virtually abandoning any serious attempt to regain the blue-ribbon seats which were lost in the May 2022 election and to retain other remaining blue ribbon Liberal seats in future elections.

The application by Peter Dutton of a Lasch political strategy might well be aided by the Albanese government’s economic ineffectiveness. Nevertheless, the new federal government is already adroitly blaming the preceding federal coalition government for Australia’s economic problems which might be an indicator that the ALP is incapable of overcoming these contemporary challenges.

For it is yet to be seen whether the new Treasurer Dr. Jim Chalmers and the new Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher have either the willingness or the technical capacity to pay down Australia’s massive one trillion-dollar public foreign debt which is a primary cause of the ever-spiralling cost of living crisis which now threatens Australia’s socio-economic status as a first world nation.

Should the Albanese government fall into the Keating trap of failing to address the public foreign debt while pursuing politically correct social policies (such as mandating emissions targets) then this government will pave the way for Peter Dutton to win power at the next federal election through the application of a Lasch political strategy. A Dutton led coalition government will be similar to the Howard government (1996 to 2007) in that it will cultivate the support of working Australians while applying neo-liberal policies (portrayed as traditional liberal policies) which will ultimately sell them out.

The above cited tragic scenario occurred in late 2005 when the Howard government passed the so-called Work Choices (No Choices) legislation. Even though the Howard government had helped facilitate the attainment of higher living standards by 2007, enough of the Howard Battlers turned on the coalition due to the No Choices industrial relations regime so that the ALP won the November 2007 federal election in which John Howard, the battlers so-called friend, deservedly lost his parliamentary seat.

The Need to Break with Australia’s Neo-Liberal Cycle

Due to Australia’s massive public foreign debt there needs to be a circuit breaker which ends the tragic cycle of going from politically correct neo-liberal ALP governments to anti-employee rights coalition governments which cultivate and then betray working Australians. Alas, it is highly improbable that such a circuit breaker will eventuate in the foreseeable future because of the current balance of political dynamics.

Because a politically correct Albanese Labor government will probably economically falter, this government might very well during the current parliamentary term call a referendum to recognise local government in the Constitution. This referendum proposal was legislated for by the Gillard government during its last week in office in 2013.  Presently, there is no indication that such a referendum proposal will be put to the Australian people, but that does not mean that those who believe in states should not be vigilant.

If such a referendum proposal passes, then state governments will not be immediately abolished.  However, the creation of new super regional councils which will be directly funded by Canberra could ensure a process by which state government functions are transferred to the Commonwealth and subsequently administered by these newly created regional councils so that the states will eventually be phased out.

Under this new regional regime, amalgamated industrial trade unions such as the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) will have control of many of the new regional bailiwicks due to their having the requisite capital and human resources because of their massive economies of scale to run for and gain election in these areas. There may be elements within corporate Australia which naively believe that they too can similarly control new super regional councils.

However, the recent successes of the ‘teal’ independents demonstrate that well-funded grass-roots campaigns can succeed.  Indeed, there may be denial in Liberal Party and National Party ranks that the success of the ‘teals’ can only be achieved in wealthy inner suburban seats. This is not the case!

The Mc Gowan Model

Indeed, the model for the teal candidate’s successes was first formulated and developed by Cathy Mc Gowan who won the north-eastern Victorian regional federal seat of Indi in 2013 as an independent. The Mc Gowan model was one where with the recruitment of a dedicated cadre of campaigners, the utilization of the latest digital technology and old-fashioned footslogging, a campaign was conducted to successfully win over uncommitted voters as well as rusted on Liberal voters.

The Mc Gowan model could be replicated with regard to the election of new future regional councils thereby providing a ‘teal’ type of operation with the capacity to institutionalise by having access to patronage and resources.  Should such a scenario come to pass then the ultimate viability of the Liberal and National parties will be fundamentally endangered. Therefore, the onset of regionalisation not only threatens the continued existence of Australian states but also of the two coalition parties.

The best way to avoid the above cited scenario is for the Dutton led federal coalition to oppose a future referendum proposal that local government be recognised in the Constitution. If the Liberal Party is to revive, then let this mainstay of Australian politics return to its Menzian roots by cultivating its branches as the depositories of human resource talent. Consequently, there needs to be an early pre-selection (at least eighteen months out from an election) of candidates so that these Liberal contenders can utilize and/or recruit new talent into the branches in order to conduct a campaign of at least similar intensity as that undertaken by the ‘teals’.

A return to the past Liberal Party tradition of respecting and harnessing human resource talent in its branches will also mean respecting branch autonomy so that socially liberal policy positions such as support for refuges can be espoused.  The recent May 2022 federal election results and the success of the ‘teals’ also indicated that there is a sufficient critical mass for a new socially liberal political party similar to the now nearly extinct Australian Democrats. However, should the Liberals and Nationals fight to retain states then these two major political parties may well survive and prosper into the future by also being underpinned by strong branches within a federal Westminister parliamentary system.

The Nexus between Social Democracy and States Rights

For those readers who may think that SAA is becoming a pro-Liberal Party operation it should be restated that SAA is still orientated toward Labor governments. The Malinauskas ALP state government in South Australia is a government which SAA gives its qualified support to.  However, unless the Liberal Party returns to its historical roots by wholeheartedly supporting party branch democracy and defending state rights then they may well be no Malinauskas government to support because states may be eventually phased out.

 

[1] Katherine Deves was specifically and directly chosen as the Liberal Party’s candidate for Warringah by the then Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a so-called ‘Captain’s pick’

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A paid advertisement for the United Australia Party (UAP) appeared on the front page of Melbourne’s Herald Sun on the 20th of September 2021 calling for the abolition of Australian states saying that there should only be national and regional governments.  This advertisement encapsulates the concerns which Social Action Australia (SAA) has expressed over the years that there is an agenda to abolish Australian states and replace them with a new regional tier of government.  It is also possible that Clive Palmer’s UAP will later try to pressure the Morrison federal government into holding a constitutional referendum in which local government is recognised in the Australian Constitution. 

Legislation authorising this referendum proposal was passed in the last days of the Gillard federal government in 2013.  Should such a referendum pass then Australian states would not be immediately abolished.  However, a paradigm will be established by which funding for the states, as well as the functions which they currently fulfil, will eventually be usurped by a new Canberra dominated regional tier of government.  Consequently, Australian states will ‘wither on the vine’ so that their viability will ultimately be fatally undermined.

 

The Threat to Australian Democracy

The above scenario is a disastrous one for Australia because funding and/or resources for new regional council/authorities will inevitably go to the more populated areas.  Furthermore, new regional councils will probably be respectively dominated by big business interests and hard left-wing amalgamated trade unions so that Australian democracy will be fundamentally undermined along with the overall quality of good governance. 

The Morrison federal government will hopefully resist holding the constitutional recognition referendum.  Unfortunately, the prospects of this referendum not proceeding are not high.  This is because the political dynamics which precipitated Scott Morrison’s rise to power as prime minister in 2018 have probably included anti-state elements within the federal coalition ensuing that the local government recognition referendum will proceed. 

It is therefore probable that such a referendum will be held in conjunction with the next federal election and that the announcement of this referendum will coincide with the calling of that federal election.  This strategic timing for the calling of this referendum proposal will be intended to deny genuine pro-states forces the capacity to organise an effective ‘No’ case. 

The irony of the situation is that the best hope for organising a genuine ‘No’ case now rests with federal coalition Members of Parliament (MPs), many of whom previously gave pro-state maiden parliamentary speeches in 2010.  It is also ironic that it is within the ranks of the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party and the Liberal National Party (LNP) in Queensland that there is now an anti-states sentiment and agenda. 

This paradox is derived from the frustration which exists within these two state party branches at not being able to win state government.  It is also a plausible scenario that the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party is also now inclined toward supporting a constitutional local government recognition referendum given that this state branch was reduced to a mere two seats in the March 2021 state election!

There are many state-based coalition politicians who envisage that there will be a ‘benefit’ in controlling new regional bailiwicks in lieu of states.  The fundamental problem for the Liberal Party will be that if regionalisation occurs then the continued viability of this political party will be threatened.  This is because the Liberal Party is conceptualized as one of the two major political parties by the public. 

This mindset is reinforced by there being state-based Westminster parliamentary systems.  However, parties on the right (such as the UAP) stand to win representation, if not power, in a new regional tier of government so that the long-term viability of the Liberal Party will eventually be challenged. 

 

Australian Political Parties and Regionalisation

The National Party is another political party which cannot (to say the least) be relied upon to protect the states.  The recent June 2021 leadership change from Michael Mc Cormack to the recycling of Barnaby Joyce by the federal Nationals is possibly testament to this party adopting an anti-states position.  Barnaby Joyce has publicly advocated the introduction of a regional tier of government so that his 2021 return to the Nationals federal parliamentary leadership can be seen as an indication that the Nationals will support recognition of local government in the Constitution. 

Again, as with the Liberals, the Nationals will ultimately electorally suffer should federal constitutional recognition be given to local government.  This is because other right-wing parties such as the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party as well as the One Nation Party will be given access to patronage should regionalisation be introduced so that the Nationals’ viability will also be threatened. 

There is also the question of the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) stance on local government constitutional recognition.  Perhaps this question is a rhetorical one because the hard left of the ALP has long sought the abolition of Australian states.  This stance was previously reflected by the 1987 release of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ (ACTU) report Australia Reconstructed (the Report).  This Report was not entitled Unions Reconstructed because the hard-left agenda of the majority of the Report’s authors was for Australian trade unions to eventually politically and industrially dominate Australia. 

It was for this reason that the Report advocated the ultimately de-unionising process of union amalgamation which commenced in the early 1990s.  The hard left of the Australian union movement envisaged that there would be a concentration of power via union amalgamation.  This is now on the cusp of being achieved because hard left wing amalgamated trade unions anticipate controlling super regional councils should federal constitutional recognition be given to local government. 

The hard left of the ALP will be better positioned to adapt to regionalisation than the coalition parties.  This will be because left-wing amalgamated trade unions will cohesively co-ordinate concerning future representation arrangements for a new regional tier of government.  The other party on the left which also stands to benefit from the introduction of regionalisation is the Greens political party which could well in a regional local government context link up with the hard left of the ALP at the expense of the moderate elements within the Labor Party and the union movement. 

This possible transition by Australia’s political parties with regard to them supporting an anti-states’ regime could not come at a worse time for this nation.  Australia needs to give its priority to socially and economically recovering from the Covid 19 pandemic crisis as well as withstanding the security threat from mainland communist China. 

The Morrison government from an economic perspective has adroitly handled the Covid 19 Crisis by the previous provision of the Job Keeper and the Job Seeker payment schemes.  However, the tasks of socially, economically and politically recovering from this pandemic crisis remains.  Should federal local government recognition be granted then Australia will have to subsequently endure different political forces scrambling to gain control of resources as this nation balkanizes. 

 

The Threat to Australia’s Viability

From a strategic perspective, Australia will also have to devote its resources to remaining united in the context of the bellicose stance which mainland communist China has adopted in relation to our nation.  The September 2021 formation of the AUKUS trilateral security pact is testament to the Morrison government being strategically adept concerning defence and foreign affairs.  However, as the great American president, Abraham Lincoln observed, a divided house cannot stand.  Australia cannot therefore afford to endure the Balkanization process which will be facilitated by regionalisation in the midst of the external threat which is posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

It is alas, a forlorn hope that the Morrison government will not hold a referendum on local government recognition given that there are such potent socio-political forces out to destroy Australian states.  SAA is too small a political operation to single-handedly conduct a ‘No’ vote campaign should there be a referendum proposal to recognise local government in the Constitution.  The best that SAA can do is what is being undertaken in this article - to whistle blow regarding the grave dangers which exist concerning the continued viability of Australia states. 

It will therefore be up to genuine pro-state forces within the major political parties to start preparing now to conduct an effective ‘No’ vote campaign so that the Australian people will really know what is at stake should recognition be given to local government in the Commonwealth Constitution. 

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A recent article by Professor Peter Van Onselen (‘Cabinet acts globally and ignores the locals’, The Weekend Australian, 19th-20th June, 2021) has advocated that representatives of Australian local government have a place on national cabinet, which is currently composed of federal and state government ministers.  Whatever the intrinsic merit of this proposal, caution should be undertaken when considering this particular reform.  This is because the Murdoch press could again be attempting to re-engineer the eventual abolition of Australian states!  

If states are to be ultimately abolished, then the way in which this will be achieved is by recognition in the constitution being granted to local government so that states can be by-passed to ensure that they (i.e., states) will eventually wither on the vine. 

Indeed, in the last days of the Gillard government in 2013 legislation was passed authorizing a future constitutional referendum to recognize local government in the constitution so that this important tier of government - local government- can receive Commonwealth funding.  Should such a constitutional referendum be held and carried then a regime will be put in place where the Commonwealth can eventually by-pass the states when it comes to service delivery and other important functions and representative roles which the states currently fulfill.

 Australian Labor Party (ALP) and coalition governments at a state and a territory level are to be praised for the adept way in which they have handled the covid outbreak.  State and territory bureaucracies by utilizing technological innovations such as contact tracing have been able to crucially help contain the spread of this extremely dangerous pandemic.

The Morrison federal government has also ably co-operated with the states to help effectively prevent the spread of the covid virus thereby illustrating what can be achieved when there is genuine bi-partisan federal-state co-operation. 

However, if local government was to receive constitutional recognition, then this tier of government (i.e., local government) will gradually transform into a new supra level of government dominated by Canberra due to its ultimate control of the purse strings. 

Consequently, the diversity and flexibility which the Australian body politic has enjoyed as a result of state governments (via their bureaucracies) being able to respond to specific macro public policy crisis (such as the covid pandemic) will be irretrievably lost.  This scenario will eventuate if Canberra can usurp the representative functions of states via local government being granted constitutional recognition.  

The return of Barnaby Joyce to the Nationals’ federal leadership in June 2021 is further reason for wariness concerning threats to states’ rights because Mr. Joyce is an opponent of this tier of government. 

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A recent article in The Australian newspaper by former deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce (‘Our Parochial States Are A Sign of Another Time,’ 24/08/2020) highlights the danger to Australia’s federal system of government which comes from politicians who want to abolish Australian states. Social Action Australia (SAA) has consistently warned  that  there is an inter-party anti-states agenda, which if implemented, will eventually see that Australian states are replaced by a balkanized patchwork of enclaves which will come into existence by creating a new regional tier of government.

For the federal and state politicians who desire to implement this balkanization process the benefit from their perspective, is that these new sub-state creations would provide them with bailiwicks to rule over in their own right. There are National Party (or in the Queensland context Liberal National Party, [LNP]) bigwigs who envisage that they will gain control over lucrative regions instead of having to endure the inconvenience of being in opposition at a state level.

It should also be pointed out that that this anti-state rights agenda also extends into the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP). Former ALP Prime Minister Bob Hawke was in favour of the removal of states and former Victorian Liberal Premier, Jeff Kennett has also called for the abolition of states.

From a non-ALP perspective do not these anti-state coalition political figures realize that they are endangering the viability of their respective parties? The Liberal and Nationals Party (previously the Country Party) owed their longevity to the fact that they operated within a federal and state Westminster parliamentary system in which party pre-selections were binding. Consequently, when factional divisions arose, they were contained within a party context because factional warlords knew that if they split from their party that the voters would nearly always support the pre-selected party parliamentary candidate.

Should however regionalization be introduced then party factional leaders will run their own candidates for office at a regional level regardless of whether they have overarching party endorsement.  Furthermore, the introduction of regionalization will also be a boon for minor parties such as One Nation, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party,  the Greens Party and the Katter Australia Party, because they may well be able to institutionalize themselves within this new tier of government.

There are also broader public policy concerns about regionalization, such as the concentration of power in Canberra as proposed smaller units of regional government will be more susceptible to funding control from the central government. Furthermore, the more populous regional governments, due to their electoral clout under this new regime, may receive greater resource allocations from the central government. As a result, less populous states (or former states should regionalization be introduced) such as Tasmania could be grossly disadvantaged.

It is also ironic that non-ALP proponents of regionalization are ultimately and essentially implementing the agenda of the hard left of the ALP. In 1987 the Australian Councill of Trade Unions (ACTU) released a report entitled Australia Reconstructed. The major recommendation of this report was that it paved the way for the profoundly de-unionising process of union amalgamation, as members of trade unions declined to join new industry unions which they did not identify with.

While trade union amalgamation did not immediately translate into a concentration of union power, because of the steep decline in union membership density, those trade unions which did amalgamate were able to consolidate their resources. Consequently, industry trade unions are now very powerful within the ALP, arguably to the detriment of the rank and file union membership.

Should regionalization be introduced, replacing states then it is not inconceivable that massive resource based industry unions (or their constituent divisions) such as the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) will gain control of some of these different regional units of government therefore perpetuating their power despite relatively low union membership density.  Therefore, under regionalization hard left trade unions would be institutionalized within a regional tier of government.

How Regionalization can be Facilitated

 So how could this regionalization be implemented?  The answer to this question is that a referendum would need to be held in the future to recognize local government in the Australian Constitution.  Just toward the end of the Gillard government in 2013, legislation was actually passed which would have enabled a referendum on this matter.

Should the proposal to recognise local government in the constitution pass then the states would not be immediately abolished.  However, once the Rubicon has been crossed the process will commence in which new regional councils could be created by federal legislation.  These regional councils could then receive federal government funding as centralist elements within existing state governments will gradually transfer their functions and responsibilities either to Canberra or to this new tier of government.

Queensland is a state particularly prone to regionalization because of its large geographical size and high concentration of population outside the capital city of Brisbane. It is therefore not surprising that elements within the LNP at both a state and federal level covertly support the introduction of a sub-state regional tier of government. Due to the LNP’s pivotal role in ensuring that the Morrison government won the May 2019 federal election, it would appear that it is tragically almost inevitable that this federal government will proceed with holding a referendum to introduce the recognition of  local government  in the Commonwealth constitution.

The question therefore emerges as to what can be done? The answer to this question is that as a matter of urgency a genuine pro-state rights organisation be formed to wage a ‘No’ vote campaign for any upcoming referendum on local government recognition. It would be difficult to establish and maintain such an organisation due to the present uncertainty as to when such a referendum would be held.

However, perhaps the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) has the potential infrastructure in each of the states to run a ‘No’ vote campaign should they be inclined to do so. As part of their campaign to bring in an Australian republic, ARM could ‘beef up’ its existing resources to establish secretariats in each of the states to co-ordinate a ‘No’ vote campaign on the question of local government constitutional recognition. The ARM also has the potential to reach out to pro-state rights elements within the major political parties (even if they are monarchist) to conduct such a pro-state rights campaign.

The statesman who would be crucial in facilitating such a re-orientation of ARM’s activities is Malcolm Turnbull.  This former prime minister positively left his mark on Australia by scrapping Tony Abbott’s proposed ‘White Paper’ on federation ‘reform’. However, as a former prime minister, Mr Turnbull has an obligation to safeguard his legacy by utilizing his influence with ARM so that it will serve as a back-up organisation should a referendum on local government constitutional recognition be held.

ARM officials and its three-person national office staff would need to be consulted as to whether they in conscience agree to support a ‘No’ campaign on local government constitutional recognition. However, the ARM should as a democratic organisation be able to accommodate establishing a national infrastructure (including a special fighting funding strictly dedicated to waging a ‘No’ vote campaign on local government constitutional recognition) to help protect the integrity of Australian states.

The Importance of States Rights

It is perhaps a big ask to request the people involve themselves in preparation for such a campaign given the challenging Covid 19 virus era which is presently being endured. However, as the Barnaby Joyce article illustrates, proponents of undermining Australian states have not forgone doing the spade work to promote their agenda. Indeed, when Australia emerges from this pandemic the priority of the Morrison/Mc Cormack federal government must be on economic recovery by instituting a re-employment growth programme. For if an economic recovery is not successfully engineered then Australia could irretrievably lose its high standard of living.

Therefore, the Nationals cannot afford to be distracted by a destabilization campaign against its federal leader and Deputy Prime Minster, Michael Mc Cormack.  Should Michael Mc Cormack be replaced by a Queenslander then this may well be seen as a harbinger for the Morrison government to commence along the regionalization route which could perversely ultimately destroy the Nationals.

Already there has been an attempt from within the Queensland LNP to destabilize their Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington. Should the Queensland LNP lose the October 2020 state election then this may also serve to encourage the Queensland Nationals to commence a regionalization agenda. Pursuit of such a campaign would be a betrayal of the Bjelke-Petersen tradition which, say what you might about him, was about preserving Queensland as a sovereign state against a Canberra inspired centralization.

The current ALP premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk is a determinedly decent person who if she wins the upcoming October state election may well have the rug pulled from under her should a referendum to recognize local government pass. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Socialist Left (SL) of Queensland’s ALP will subsequently move to dismember Queensland via regionalization thereby creating the scope for parties such as One Nation (and others) to entrench themselves in the Queensland body politic.

Beware of the Chinese Communist Party

Not only does regionalization threaten the territorial integrity of existing states but it also exposes Australia to the potential to be dominated by the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC). It will be easier for the PRC to target new regional councils so as to exercise influence over Australia. Indeed, a top priority of the Morrison government must be to prevent the possible onset of PRC domination in Australia and elsewhere.

It is therefore imperative that Australia is at the forefront of moves to safeguard the Republic of China on Taiwan. Should Joe Biden win the American presidency in November 2020 there is little doubt that the PRC under the leadership of President Xi Jinping will move to absorb Taiwan into the PRC. If the United States fails to come to the military aid of Taiwan, then South Pacific nations such as Australia will be increasingly exposed to Chinese communist domination.

If President Donald Trump is to win re-election then he must issue a public declaration regarding the United States of America’s preparedness to militarily support Taiwan. Although Trump is almost instinctively isolationist, his Republican political base is not. American Republicans will not allow Taiwan to be conquered by the PRC. President Trump can engage with his Republican base by publicly declaring his support for Taiwan against Chinese communist aggression.

Furthermore, President Trump can publicly challenge his Democratic presidential opponent Joe Biden to follow suit by similarly issuing a public declaration that his administration would also militarily support Taiwan should it come under attack from the Chinese Communists. A failure by either Joe Biden or his vice-presidential running-mate Senator Kamala Harris at this stage  to publicly guarantee the military defence of Taiwan would show them up as being inadequate and unfit for high office so that they may well lose the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

No one wants war between the PRC and the United States. However, at the same time as the late Golda Meir of Israel declared, ‘peace is not achieved by sacrificing small nations’. Furthermore, nations such as India will probably also take exception to communist Chinese aggression so that world peace will be at risk with possible severe consequences if Taiwan is invaded by the PRC.

How the PLA Can Still Save The World

 

It is therefore imperative that that the PRC’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) collectively think strategically by reining their president, Xi Jinping in. The PRC has been a professional army in that it has consistently detached itself from exercising direct power. It is often forgotten that when Mao-Tse Tung died in September 1976, that the Communist Party of China (CCP) had virtually disintegrated as a result of the so-called Cultural Revolution so that power was there for the taking by China’s armed forces.

Had the PLA assumed direct power in 1976 then China may have degenerated into warlordism as occurred in the 1920s. Instead the PLA rallied to support Mao’s designated successor, the ineffectual Hua Guofeng by arresting the so-called Gang of Four. Realizing that Hua was ineffective, the armed forces rehabilitated the previously purged Deng Xiao-ping so that by late 1978 he had emerged as China’s de facto leader.

Reeling from its military defeat in the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War due to the application of outmoded Maoist military doctrines, the PLA gave Deng a free hand to implement market reforms which has led China to now be one of the world’s two super-powers. Although Deng was undoubtedly the PRC’s most powerful individual, his power was not absolute. This was demonstrated in early June 1989 when the armed forces foisted a bloody military clampdown against widespread socio-economic unrest.

It was only in the wake of the Soviet Union’s disintegration at the end of 1991 that Deng (who toured military bases at this time) was able to re-launch his economic reforms in February 1992 and in the process re-emerge as the PRC’s paramount leader, a position which he held until his death in early 1997. Unfortunately for China and the world the PRC is bereft of the stateman type of leadership of Deng’s calibre. So that should the communists attack Taiwan the world might be again brought to the precipice as it was during the October 1962 Cuban Missiles Crisis.

It is therefore vital that the PRC’s armed forces, as they did in 1976, demonstrate professional detachment by refusing to attack Taiwan should President Trump fail to win re-election. It is often overlooked that that Japanese military acted unilaterally without the imprimatur of the Tokyo government to invade Manchuria in September 1931. In an inverse of what happened in 1931 the Chinese military could, indeed should, refuse to invade Taiwan while still leaving Xi Jinping in power.

The Egyptian military, which has been the main source of power in Cairo since 1952 demonstrated its political sophistication in 1977 when it refused an order to crush bread riots therefore leading to President Sadat’s very successful visit to Israel later that year. The Chinese military is politically, uncannily similar to Egypt in that it has pursued a policy of ‘ruling without governing’. To avoid going down the road that Japan’s military went in the 1930s and the 1940s, the Chinese military should paradoxically assert itself by refusing to go to war over Taiwan should Joe Biden win the US presidency later this year.

Conclusion

Australia is also similar to the PRC in that this nation is at a cross-roads. While the PLA must decide whether to imperil the tremendous achievements which have resulted in higher living standards being achieved through the recent era of market reforms in the PRC by going to war over Taiwan, Australia must decide whether to safeguard the constitutional and territorial integrity of its constituent states.

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The real and non-identified reason why Malcolm Turnbull is no longer prime minister is because he would not hold a referendum on local government recognition in the constitution.  For the Liberal Party’s August 2018 plotters the priority was to ensure that there is a prime minister who will hold such a referendum so that the phasing out of states can be undertaken. 

Should local government constitutional recognition occur then states will not be immediately or quickly abolished.  Nevertheless, the narrative of a future Shorten ALP federal government will be (should there be local government constitutional recognition) the phasing out of states as their functions will be progressively ceded to a new regional tier of government which is integrally linked to Canberra.  For eventually, state responsibilities and associated institutions in education, law enforcement and the justice system will be ultimately subsumed into a future unitary structure. 

Perhaps a direct appeal should be made to Prime Minister Scott Morrison not to hold a referendum on local government recognition.  However, such an appeal would alas, be in vain.  Prime Minister Morrison and his deputy Josh Frydenberg were installed in their leadership positions to hold such a referendum so that the floodgates could be opened to ensure that states are eventually abolished. 

While Malcolm Turnbull has named the conspirators against him (and in the process raised the suspicion that Scott Morrison was neither a passive participant nor a totally loyal team player) he has not yet identified the underlying cause of the leadership coup against him- the eventually phasing out of Australian states.  The dividend as to why the August 2018 plotters (such as Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton and Greg Hunt) instigated the leadership change was to engineer the eventual abolition of Australian states to help establish regional bailiwicks which they erroneously believe will enhance their personal political power. 

                                                                                                                Back to the Future?  Will the Liberal Party go the way of the UAP? 

 

However, the onset of regionalisation will be the death knell of the Liberal Party.  Indeed, the Liberal Party faces the prospect of experiencing the political disintegration which its predecessor the United Australia Party (UAP) experienced between 1943 and 1944 if regionalisation becomes a reality.  The reasons as to how and why the UAP split into a bewildering array of state based micro- parties have never been adequately explained.  Nevertheless, this destructive process was halted and reversed at the instigation of Robert Menzies when conferences were held in Canberra and Albury respectively in October and December 1944 to found the contemporary Liberal Party. 

The prospect of the Liberal Party emulating the UAP by disintegrating into a myriad of micro-parties is a plausible one because these new parties will have a resource base under a future regionalised regime.  Already the signs are there with the establishment of Senator Cori Bernandi’s Australian Conservatives, Clive Palmer’s new UAP and Bob Katter’s Australia Party. 

It is therefore no stretch of the imagination to envisage that the Kennett faction of the Liberal Party in Victoria will go its own way as a new party as might two of the three factions which currently constitute the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party.   It also goes without saying that the Moderate and Conservative factions of the South Australian division of the Liberal Party will split with the only question being which faction will keep the ‘Liberal Party’ name.

There is also scope that should regionalisation ensue that local government campaign groups will win office of new regional councils.  Already left of centre campaign groups have won elections in the federal seats of Indi and Wentworth and this approach can be emulated in elections to new regional tiers of government in accordance with a pattern which is not necessarily beneficial to centre right parties. 

The ALP by contrast will probably remain united under a future regional regime.  This will be because the discipline of conglomerate industry unions which currently underpin the Labor Party will continue.  Nevertheless, it is also not difficult to envisage the Greens establishing new power bases to link up with the Socialist Left (SL) of the ALP at a regional level to eventually squeeze out Labor Party moderates.  Furthermore, as bleak as the above canvassed scenarios are, there is still scope for the resource hungry People’s Republic of China* (PRC) to exercise influence and power at decentralized context over such a new regional tier of government. 

(*This wariness of Sino power is not directed against the Chinese people but rather the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

                                                                                                                                          The Threat of Regionalization

 

The most expedient action would be to directly to appeal to Prime Minister Morrison and Treasurer Frydenberg not to hold a referendum on local government recognition or to rescind the referendum proposal which was introduced during the last days of the Gillard government in 2013.  However to expect the Morrison/Frydenberg government not to proceed with such a referendum is an exercise in wishful thinking because these two leaders owe their positions to the premise that they will allow such a referendum to proceed.

This constitutional recognition local government referendum will probably be held to coincide with the next federal election to be held in May 2019 so that genuine pro-state rights groups will have insufficient time to organise an effective ‘no’ campaign.  To further complicate matters, the pro-Abbott Samuel Griffith Society is positioning to undertake a deliberately flawed ‘no’ campaign. 

Also increasing the prospect that the ‘yes’ campaign on local government recognition will succeed a referendum question on indigenous recognition will also probably be held so that voters will have a positive mindset to vote ‘yes’ on the question of constitutional local government recognition.  Furthermore, with probable bi-partisan support from Bill Shorten the outcome of a future referendum will alas be favourable to constitutional local government recognition. 

Another possible outcome will be that that the Morrison government will be voted out at the next federal election because the transaction cost of removing Malcolm Turnbull has been too high.  If the coalition lose the 2019 election the federal Liberals will probably elect Josh Frydenberg as their next leader.  Alas, due to the impending onset of regionalisation that the Liberal Party will inevitably balkanize so that Josh Frydenberg will never become prime minister. 

Why the Liberal Party Still Needs Malcolm

The only prospect that Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have of winning the 2019 federal election is for them to reach an accommodation with Malcolm Turnbull.  The November Victorian 2018 state election demonstrated that a multitude of once stalwart Liberal Party voters are prepared to vote in favour of the ALP out of a sense of sentimental commitment to Malcolm Turnbull due to their disgust concerning his deposition.  

The Morrison/Frydenberg leadership team could avoid this electoral rout which awaits them by arriving at a political deal with Malcolm Turnbull by arranging for this now former prime minister to run for premier of New South Wales in that state’s March 2019 general election. 

For such a scenario to be viable it will first be necessary for Malcolm Turnbull to be agreeable to it.  Furthermore, and very importantly, current New South Wales Premier Gladys Belejiklian (who is already campaigning to win the 2019 state election) would have to agree to step aside in favour of Malcolm Turnbull.  An arrangement could be agreed to whereby Malcolm Turnbull is designated New South Wales Liberal leader similar to the way in which then Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman was successfully designated Liberal National Party (LNP) candidate going into the 2012 Queensland state *election.

(* Advocating a Newman succession model does not necessarily mean supporting a New South Wales Turnbull government emulating the Newman government’s harsh neo-liberal economic policies). 

Malcolm Turnbull in contrast to the previously deposed prime ministers - Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott- now commands massive electoral support as illustrated in the aforementioned November 2018 Victorian state election.  To have voters in the once ultra-safe Liberal state seat of Hawthorn elect an ALP candidate should be a wake-up call to the coalition to seek a political rapprochement with Malcolm Turnbull. 

There probably is now sufficient support for Malcolm Turnbull to re-establish a socially liberal political party similar to the now virtually extinct deregistered Australian Democrats.  However, while such a Turnbull led new socially liberal party may be electorally viable such a new party would inevitably lead to a splitting of the non-ALP vote to the ultimate benefit of Bill Shorten. 

As a social democratic operation, Social Action Australia is inherently orientated toward the election of ALP federal and state governments.  However due to the threat posed by Australia transitioning to a regionalised regime the election of ALP governments in New South Wales and at a Commonwealth level is currently too much of a threat to the genuine national interest.  Consequently it would be best if Malcolm Turnbull remained within the Liberal Party ‘tent’ with the Morrison/Frydenberg leadership team (regardless of any possible complicity on their part with regard to engineering the August 2018 leadership coup). 

The political leverage that Malcolm Turnbull now has with the Australian electorate is so astounding that it is now incumbent upon the Liberals for the future survival to reconcile with him.  Malcolm Turnbull could use his political clout to ensure that the proposal to constitutionally recognise local government is either abrogated or does not proceed at the May 2019 federal election.  At the very least if the Morrison/Frydenberg leadership team were to still tragically proceed to hold a local government recognition referendum in 2019 then Malcolm Turnbull will hopefully publicly campaign for a ‘no’ vote in order to safeguard the continued viability of Australian states. 

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