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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2647


Mr BRUMBY(10.40) —I want to talk tonight about some of the developments that have occurred over recent weeks and, indeed, recent months, in the Opposition parties. We have seen amazing turmoil and division in the Opposition parties. We have seen, of course, that the once great Liberal Party of Australia has now been hijacked by the honourable member for Bennelong, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard), who has given it an extremely conservative political agenda. He has, as the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has noted in this House, managed to bring about a situation in which there is now more talent on the Liberal Party back bench than there is on the front bench. Of course, I refer particularly to my colleague the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), who is a classic example of one who, because he does not agree with the views of the current Leader of the Liberal Party, finds himself on the back bench. We have also seen the National Party of Australia hijacked. Two National parties have really been formed. About half of the National Party has been hijacked by Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the other half is still led by the right honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). So there are really three parties in opposition.

There is more to this turmoil and division than simply the three parties that are now in opposition. We have seen from Press reports over recent weeks a number of amazing revelations in terms of developments and campaigns against sitting Liberal members in Victoria. There is the well noted campaign, of course, against the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton). That campaign has been running for some months. It now seems likely that, because of pressure on the honourable member for Higgins, he will be forced to stand down and preselection will be reopened for that seat. Unfortunately, we could be seeing the last of the honourable member for Higgins in this place.

In recent weeks an even hotter campaign has been waged by outside elements against the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Aldred). That is a much more recent development. The honourable member for Bruce let his views on this process be known publicly when he was interviewed on the 12.30 Report today. I happen to have with me a transcript of that interview. The honourable member for Bruce described the people who have been orchestrating a campaign against him as trying to destabilise the electorate of Bruce for the past 12 months. He stated:

. . . that destabilisation, of course, is not confined to Bruce. It's been going on in several other electorates, Higgins, Corangamite and elsewhere . . .

He described some of the people who have been trying to take over preselection in Bruce. He said:

. . . their aim, I think, is undoubtedly to break the Liberal Party as it exists,-

I ask honourable members to take note of this-

as a mainstream conservative force, and replace it with something much further to the right of an extreme right neo-fascist nature.

That was said by the honourable member for Bruce, a member of the Liberal Party, in talking about elements wishing to take over preselection for his seat. He would not name those individuals and he would not confirm whether John Elliott, the present Treasurer of the Liberal Party, was one of the people that he described as being neo-fascist right wing. He said that the interviewer should direct that question to Mr Elliott.

Of course, the honourable member for Bruce is not the only one in the firing line. As I said, there is the honourable member for Higgins. I was amazed, in looking through some files today, to see that on 4 March a group of Victorian Liberal members of parliament-the honourable member for Bruce, the honourable member for Indi (Mr Ewen Cameron), the honourable member for Casey (Mr Halverson), the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Reith), the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Hawker) and the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr McArthur)-put out a combined Press release defending their friend the honourable member for Higgins. They stated:

The Liberal Party has a system for endorsing candidates, and those who attempt to undermine Mr Shipton are effectively destabilising the Liberal Party.

So they are all teaming together. I think the message tonight is that we have only seen the beginning of the end for those Liberals, because if one looks through the list one will see that the honourable member for Bruce will be defeated in preselection, that the honourable member for Indi will be defeated by the National Party of Australia, that the honourable member for Casey will lose his seat to the Australian Labor Party, that the honourable member for Flinders will lose his seat to the Labor Party, that the honourable member for Wannon is under threat by the National Party and, according to the honourable member for Bruce today, the honourable member for Corangamite will lose his preselection to the right wing neo-fascist forces.