Bridget in turbulent waters 2023

“Disgruntled” Liberal MP Bridget Archer is staying to rescue the party. In the Good Weekend feature on the floor-crossing moderate, he wants a “revolution” to “take the party back” since it is unelectable. In an RN interview, Archer said she would battle for the party’s essence rather than shift to the crossbench, where her views on integrity, climate, and voice are better aligned.

She called for a Coalition agreement rethink this morning to defend and gain urban seats. Archer is right: some city-based Liberal seats would likely lose in an election today.

Why would the Peter Dutton–led Liberals to listen to Archer when they won’t listen to pollsters, results, electoral calculations, electoral reviews, Indigenous Australians, women, science, or their party’s death knell? Why would they start listening now? Bridget Archer would best serve small-l liberalism by leaving.

Watching the Liberal Party keep digging is perplexing. Not merely the pit it is digging “to bury Uluru,” as Noel Pearson said the morning after Dutton opposed the voice.

The Liberal Party is self-destructing, despite existential threats. Dutton’s group seemed to be driving the car into the bush. After the 2022 federal election, conservatives have 27 of the party room’s 66 seats, while “moderates” retain 14.

Liberalism may only be saved by hastening the Liberal Party’s collapse.

Dutton’s rightward shift will further swing the balance. When there were enough “moderates” with big profiles to take a position, they might have been able to accomplish anything. Dave Sharma, Trent Zimmerman, and Josh Frydenberg were content to go along with Scott Morrison’s folly to stay in power. Look what happened.

“Moderate leader” Simon Birmingham, meantime, has abandoned climate and the voice, refusing to condemn Dutton’s “re-racialise” statements despite experts’ warnings that they incite racists and expose Indigenous Australians to abuse and vilification.

Julian Leeser and Senator Andrew Bragg, who battle for the voice, have also neglected to criticize Dutton’s dark and deadly words. Imagine how powerful their votes would be if all the moderates called out Dutton and went to the crossbench to show they disagree with the party’s dismal trajectory. Birmingham and Bragg would suddenly control Senate votes.

Power isn’t everything. In this nation-defining referendum year, it’s about principles and right. It’s about defending small “l” liberalism if you believe in it.

The Liberal Party of Australia has been warned repeatedly that it is on the wrong track to appeal to multicultural, empathic young Australians. Aston should have been the last warning after the teal wipe-out of May 21, 2022. One federal MP told Good Weekend that conservatives “hate her,” making Archer’s message unreachable. Archer likely fears losing her position if she leaves the party.

Despite Birmingham’s five-year tenure, Bragg and Birmingham would not be re-elected as independent senators. With the way things are going, their party is unlikely to return to office soon, and not in a fashion that would reflect their ideals. Why be a Liberal senator if you can’t express your opinion in a wide church?

“Grow a spine and join the crossbench,” Sky News anchor Caleb Bond advised Archer in April. Archer is tough. She is unable to accept that liberalism can only be saved by leaving the conservative ship. Staying in a party that won’t listen or desire you is pointless. “Come the fuck on, Bridget,” I tweeted about Bridget Archer’s struggles.

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