Immediately after the loss in the state election in WA, Malcolm Turnbull hedged his bets on future preference deals with One Nation. He refused to rule out the possibility of future Federal preference swaps with the renegade right wing party. You could almost hear the support for his leadership bleeding away.
Victorian Liberal MP Tim Wilson showed he is rather more sensible than the Prime Minister when he said:
“When we do a preference deal with One Nation we legitimise them and get distracted as the folly of many of their policies are exposed,” he said.
One issue has crystallised about preference deals.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has made it quite clear that Liberal preference deals are done to maximise the Liberal party’s vote. It doesn’t matter who you do them with as long as you can maximise the Liberal vote. The party you do the preference swap with can be on the nose but if they pull the votes, who cares?
There is another view: that you do preference deals with parties whose policies align with your own. After the WA debacle, it would appear that the electorate holds this view.
When a major political party (The Liberals) ditches a long standing political ally (the Nationals) and redirects their preferences, voters may think that this indicates a redirection of policy. When that redirection is towards a party like One Nation, many Liberal voters may be deeply offended and not just change their preference votes, but change their primary vote as well.
Naturally, the Prime Minister said that the election was fought on state issues. Shorten said it was fought on the question of giving preferences to One Nation. They’re both right.
But One Nation has turned out to be the kiss of death the kiss of death In WA, particularly with Hanson’s loose cannon statements about Putin and vaccinations crossing the border into political Lalaland.
It’s also become clear that One Nation is not a political party. It’s a single, not very bright woman who goes round the country making outrageous statements ,some of which resonate with a small proportion of the population who think she “tells it like it is.”
But that is all One Nation is.
It attracts a motley bunch of ratbags whenever there is a state or federal election. Most of whom managed to say or do something either completely outrageous or completely stupid before the election and get sacked by the leader. There is no organisation, there is no infrastructure and this certainly no discipline.
Yet Malcolm Turnbull and Mathias Cormann are lending credibility to One Nation by refusing to rule out preference swaps at the Federal level.
Malcolm Turnbull has a massive problem as Prime Minister.
He is not very good at it.