A former Queensland senator has suggested the Liberal Party should go back to its original roots instead of becoming the “diet coke” version of Labor and Greens.
The comment comes after the Liberal Party’s defeat in the 2022 federal election sparked calls for the party to adopt progressive policies and shortlist more women to win back government and downtown voters.
But former Liberal Party senator Amanda Stoker recently argued that this means there’s “really nothing in terms of differentiation in prospect to get people to vote for our cause.”
Speaking at Australia’s biggest annual freedom conference on July 15, Stoker said that from a marketing perspective, “if you’re in a sea of left-leaning candidates, it can help tremendously if you offer something different”.
“Why do you go for the light coke version of being a left progressive when you have three types of full strength coke options to choose from?”
The three-day Friedman Conference held in Sydney from July 15-17 attracted over a hundred attendees this year and featured prominent figures including Victorian MP David Limbrick, former Liberal MP Tim Wilson , Indigenous community leader Warren Mundine, as well as academics and think tanks. .
Ethical reason to return to liberal roots
Stoker also noted that ethically, the Liberal Party’s traditional values, which emphasize freedom, families and businesses, are known for “providing the greatest freedom, the greatest individual choices, [and] the greatest human fulfilment.
Failure to consistently uphold these values would result in a loss of confidence among its electoral base. A lesson the party recently learned after an “era of capitulation to progressive positions”, she added.
“As a government we were largely off the field for a number of years before this election; then we shouldn’t be surprised that the dominating set of beliefs is one that doesn’t match ours,” Stoker said.
Lessons learned from the 2022 electoral defeat
The 2022 election saw a slew of moderate Liberal MPs lose to so-called ‘teal’ independents who advocated for strong climate action, including former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, while Nationals retained all of their seats .
Matt Kean, the New South Wales Treasurer and a moderate leader, said his interpretation of the Liberals’ loss is that “when the Liberal Party goes too far to the right, we lose to the centre.”
“The Liberal Party is at its best when we represent the diversity of the community,” Kean said. “Tonight we received a very strong message from our hearts that we do not represent them.”
Moderate Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham said in May the party needed to invest in Labor programs such as gender equality, diversity and climate change to claim government, but new Liberal leader Peter Dutton said he would instead focus on appealing to the aspirations of suburban voters. and small entrepreneurs.
Stoker told the conference it’s vital the party learns ‘the right lesson’, which is to have the ‘courage and intellectual rigor’ to make arguments that might at times be unpopular but align with its principles.
“What we need are people who are willing to make strong arguments, to make them as clear as possible, and to make them with a view to moving the dial,” she said.
“If you want to be harmless, there are plenty of other areas you can go into… But if you want to come into politics, this is not the place for you if what you want is to be universally loved.”