Australian Economy

Reckoning begins for defeated Liberals

Scott Morrison’s “1970s attitude to women” was a particular problem, he said.

“The Liberals have taken their eye off professional women and have been disparaging of doctors’ wives for years now,” Mr Black said.

“It is antediluvian for Liberals to talk like this. When you’ve got a PM whose attitude to women seems to be rooted in the 1970s it’s not surprising that the Liberals have lost so much support in their safe seats.”

NSW Liberal Party president Philip Ruddock said the party needed to learn from the election result after it lost safe seats to teal independents and several key marginal electorates to Labor.

“Obviously, there are lessons to be learnt and the party will obviously have to look at what they are and deal with them in a considered and sensible way,” he told The Australian Financial Review at the Liberal Party’s election night function.

“Obviously, the party organisation will be giving thought to that as we move on.”

Mr Ruddock, a former federal minister, said it was disappointing the Coalition had not prevailed given its performance during the pandemic.

“I would have liked to think having come through the very difficult environment that we had, and having done it as well as we had, there would have been some reward for it, quite frankly,” he said.

“Not just in terms of COVID [but] in terms of the economic situation.

“If you look at it where we are in relation to most other developed economies we have come out of it considerably better and I would have liked the thought the government would get some credit for that.”

Former federal MP and one-time journalist for the Finanical Review Michael Baume said the strong economy made people comfortable to vote for change.

“In politics, every good deed is punished,” he said.

“The good deed here is the government has delivered a remarkably good economic situation, so good people think they can risk a ratbag vote or a change. Just as when [John] Howard left [in 2007] the economy was in good shape.

“In other words, success is ultimately greeted by a feeling we are so secure we can afford to take a risk, and I think that is what has happened this time.”

Senator Birmingham, a moderate, said the swing against Liberals in teal seats was a wake-up call.

“I think it sends a clear message and in the case of Warringah, we have seen the issues that are played out there.

“I think it sends a message about what Australians believe when it comes to issues of respect, of inclusion, of diversity, and the message is Australians want people to respect their lives but they also want to have a strong and profound respect for the lives of others and the circumstances of others.

“And I think what we are seeing there is a strong message, and I fear that the impact in Warringah may have had something of a contagion effect on adjacent seats that hold the right values.”

Outgoing Wentworth MP Dave Sharma, who was defeated by independent Allegra Spender, said frustration about the pandemic was part, but not all of the story.

“We need to regroup and learn some lessons here,” he said.

Mr Sharma said the Liberals needed to learn how to regain the centre-ground, particularly in electorates such as Wentworth that were economically conservative but socially progressive.

“We need to make sure we’re vying for the political centre of Australia,” he said.

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