Michael Pascoe: Liberal Party unable to be honest with itself, let alone the nation

Peter Dutton should take note of Bridget Archer’s stance on integrity, Michael Pascoe writes.

Peter Dutton should take note of Bridget Archer’s stance on integrity, Michael Pascoe writes.

“If you can’t be honest with yourself, you can’t be honest with anyone.”

That little homily is playing out for the federal Liberal Party with a thread running from its election review through to Peter Dutton’s present gaming of the Voice referendum and on into the party’s future of decreasing relevance.

The election review might seem like old news now – heck, it was three weeks ago, last year even – but its painful prevarication exemplifies the rot at the party’s core: A collective and individual lack of integrity that offers no resistance when charlatans, liars and chancers have the numbers.

The post-mortem by Victorian Senator Jane Hume and former party director Brian Loughnane is too cute by half in (mostly) blaming Scott Morrison and listing a few of the symptoms of the party’s necrosis, rather than the cause.

Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison was blamed for the election loss in the Liberals and Labor reviews.

Yes, as identified by the Labor Party’s review as well, Scott Morrison was the single biggest factor in the Liberal Party losing 18 seats. “Women didn’t like him” was and is obvious.

If the review was honest, it would concentrate on why they didn’t like him rather than fiddle with excuses about COVID distraction and treating the advent of the Teals as a somewhat random event.

It’s not a hard task. The Teals have done it for them, laid it out as their platform for all to see:




I’d go a step further though. The electorate reacted to the Liberal Party’s lack of integrity about climate policy, its lack of integrity in dealing with issues of inclusivity and basic human relations (the Biloela family, anyone?), and the lack of integrity in addressing integrity – its federal ICAC failure and multibillion-dollar rorting.

In plain English, we’re sick of political bullsh-t, of lying and dissembling.

Leading by example

Underlining the difference a show of integrity can make, one Liberal MP actually increased her margin while all about her suffered sharp falls: Bridget Archer.

What was different about Ms Archer? She showed she had some integrity, that she had the ticker to stand up for a reasonable principle by crossing the floor in 2021 to support at least debating Helen Haynes’ federal integrity commission proposal.

As a matter of integrity, she was prepared to do it again to vote against the Morrison government’s religious discrimination bill and did so in opposition to support the Labor government’s climate target.

Where were the alleged “moderates” in the Liberal Party on those occasions? Nowhere to be seen.

Such irony in the Liberal Party’s limp lettuce platoon trying to protect their preselections by doing as they were told by the Morrison mob only to lose their seats for it.


The David Littleproud-led Nationals have changed little since Barnaby Joyce with their opposition to the Voice.

Would the Teals have won those seats if they were standing against people with the integrity to stand up for integrity, if a vote for the sitting Liberal member wasn’t a vote for Barnaby Joyce’s National Party tail wagging the government dog?

It’s much easier for Senator Hume – loyal supporter of PM Morrison – and Mr Loughnane to blame Scott Morrison and “events, dear boy, events” than to smack responsibility home to the individual candidates for lacking the courage of their convictions.

And nothing has been learned. The Liberal Party’s leftovers still go through the motion of defending their government’s unprecedented corruption of grants, are still playing a rear-guard action on climate change, still don’t know what to do about “women”.

Playing politics with Voice

Which is the thread that leads to the political game Peter Dutton is playing on the Voice referendum – where’s the integrity?

Does Mr Dutton support the Uluru Statement or not? There’s no straight answer, nothing that rings true, just weasel words about “show me the detail”.

Professor Marcia Langton is but the latest possessor and publisher of detail to destroy that ruse.

It’s not about the detail – it’s about the politics. It’s not about behaving with integrity when dealing with a matter that goes to the nation’s soul – it’s about trying to weaken Anthony Albanese.

The National Party has been elevated by the election to more than tail status in the Coalition dog. (Tail and fleas? Hind legs, tail, ticks and fleas?)

It was no surprise they were quick to bag the Voice but in the process they pupped another politician of conspicuous integrity: Andrew Gee.

Now Ms Archer is not alone. In reasonable politics, Mr Gee quitting the National Party over its opposition to the Voice could be enough to take the issue out of party-political positioning, making it a very simple thing to adopt Ms Archer’s suggestion of making it a conscience vote.

A simple solution, an easy matter – all it would require is a little integrity.

Oh well.

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