The snooze-a-thon contest between former federal minister Peter Reith and former Victorian Treasurer Alan Stockdale for the federal Liberal presidency has left many Liberals shaking their heads in boredom and puzzlement.
â€œThere needs to be a new activist approach to the party organisation, one that supports the Leader with enthusiasm and passion,â€ a senior Liberal insider told VEXNEWS today.
With moderates say that Stockdale is considered highly likely to pull the pin on his increasingly beseiged candidacy, and with no great enthusiasm for Reith as an astute political judge or spokesperson, some Liberals are beginning to look outside the square for alternatives.
The fact that most see it as a proxy war between the Abbott-favoured Stockdale and the Turnbull-favoured Reith.
They might have run out of time, with the next party federal council to be held on June 25th.
One name kept popping up when we asked around about alternatives. Cory Bernardi.
Yes, that Cory Bernardi. The rebel outsider Senator who fields more invitations to speak to Liberal party branches than any other MP beyond the current Leader. Young and old, the membership love him, VEXNEWS has been repeatedly told.
Bernardi has been described by his growing number of backers as a â€œnext-generation leaderâ€ of the party who could potentially electrify the party membership with his straight-talk, good-looks and charm.
â€œThe average age of the membership makes the ALPâ€™s band of old comms look like the Eureka Youth League. We need to consciously make the party organisation attractive to young people, business owners and achievers. Cory can do that. Realistically, whether itâ€™s Reith or Stockdale, itâ€™ll just be more of the same. We need to turbo-charge the party organisation leadership, just like Abbott has done in the party room, youâ€™re simply not going to do that with retired politicians in their sixties who are just wanting to expand their network for their consultancy and directorships work,â€ one jaded observer told VEXNEWS.
While Reithy and Stockers might put the old dears in party branches to sleep, Bernardi could put a spring in their step, potentially revitalising the show.
Envious left-wing scribes have attacked Bernardi for his activist approach, setting up groups like the Conservative Leadership Foundation:
“Our goal is to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists in Australia by providing the training and skills necessary to succeed.”
Bernardiâ€™s many fans point to the web of other independent conservative organisations that Bernardi has established including the grassroots anti-carbon-tax group Can Do and another group that works closely with Dadâ€™s groups like the â€œShared Parenting Association of Australiaâ€. Itâ€™s called the Conservative Council of Australia.
While Bernardi doesnâ€™t skite about his role, the CCA which he established owns the website of both Can Do and the Conservative Leadership Foundation, so itâ€™s no secret in the halls of power just how busy Bernardi has been. All organisations share the good Senator Coryâ€™s Post Office Box in Walkerville, South Australia too, from which patriots can also obtain his latest book. Heâ€™s everywhere. Surely heâ€™d be a better bet than a recycled politician, many party insiders are saying.
If the contest of the oldies is allowed to continue, most expect Stockdale to prevail because of the brutal numbers-play of Senator Minchin, who has installed a federal leader and regards choosing a federal president as a stroll in the park, by comparison. Many think Minchin should have put up his himself but he has told mates he’s had a gutful of Canberra.Â In the senate today, when Senator Chris Evans yelled at Minchin about Reith across the chamber, saying “Have you got the numbers to stop him, Minchin” and Minchin made the international gesture for “so-so, bit iffy”. Most insiders reckon though that if anyone can keep Stockers alive, Weekend at Bernies style, it’ll be Nick Minchin, the best numbers’ man in Canberra since Robert Ray.
Bernardi would be a controversial choice in the eyes of many Press Gallery know-alls, whoâ€™ll wipe themselves out at this eveningâ€™s Mid-Winter charity ball at Parliament House, but he has none of Reithâ€™s IR baggage and a proven record of political initiative and entrepreneurship that puts many somnolent colleagues to shame.