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Is Australia in need of its own Donald Trump?

IS Australia ready for its own Trump figure?

That was one of the first questions off the rank as the ABC's live Q&A program returned to air last night for the first time in 2017.

Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews; Minister for Resources and Energy Josh Frydenberg;

Menzies Research Fellow Daisy Cousens; Climate activist Xiuhtezcati Martinez and Trump supporter and policy analyst Helen Andrews joined host Tony Jones on the panel.

"Will Cory Bernardi's new Conservative Party have the same effect that Trump did in America and, if so, will it pull votes away from both major parties," a member of the audience asked the panel.

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi is expected to quit the party in favour of his own Australian Conservatives movement on Tuesday.

Minister for Resources and Energy Josh Frydenberg dodged the question but host Tony Jones continued to press him on whether or not another Liberal defector would unravel the Turnbull Government.

Mr Jones said a "crisis has emerged in (the Government's) ranks".

"You are about to have a defector," Mr Jones said.

"If you have another one from the House of Reps - if, for example, George Christensen decided it was time to up stumps and join Cory Bernardi's new Conservative Party, you would have to perhaps go to an election because you would lose a majority in the House.

"That is how tight the situation is. Are you not at all concerned?"

Minister for Resources and Energy Josh Frydenberg on the Q & A panel.
Minister for Resources and Energy Josh Frydenberg on the Q & A panel. News Corp Australia

Mr Frydenberg said "votes are tight, but we do have a majority on the numbers". The party is "very unified", he said.

"George Christensen has made it very plain publicly, he's not about to leave the Liberal Party," Mr Frydenberg said.

"You are right, there has been silence from Cory Bernardi.

"But we can't comment on that until we actually know what he is going to do and, if so, where he is going to go."

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is not a fan of Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is not a fan of Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi. News Corp Australia

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Mr Bernardi's "extreme conservatism" and Trump-inspired politics wouldn't resonate with Australians.

"I don't agree with probably anything that Cory Bernardi necessarily puts forward," Mr Andrews said.

"It is a pretty hateful agenda. It is an agenda that doesn't resonate with working people. It doesn't resonate with people who are fair-mined and, in body, I think that Australian spirit of a fair go.

"That sort of extreme conservatism that is the exact opposite of that fair go that I think all of us cherish will not resonate, whether Cory Bernardi is the leader of that Conservative movement or anybody else for that movement.

"I think Australians have got much bigger hearts than that."

Mr Bernardi was photographed during the US presidential election wearing a red baseball cap with the slogan 'Make Australia great again'. It has since been suggested he is modelling himself on Mr Trump.

"Obviously, he's been a big fan of Donald Trump, his campaign, and now his presidency," Mr Frydenberg said.

"It is wrong, to line up people like Pauline Hanson and her supporters and Cory Bernardi and their supporters, and say they have no place in Australia.

"In fact, hundreds of thousands of Australians are actually voting for them.

"So you have got to listen to the message - why are people voting with them?

"(Mr Trump) threw out the rule books when it came to political candidates and now in the Oval Office he has a different standard operating procedure than anyone before him.

"I don't think we can dismiss that and take a 'holier than thou' approach. We have to listen to the causes, react to the them and do it in a much more sympathetic way."

Policy analyst Helen Andrews said “Australia is ripe” for its own version of Donald Trump
Policy analyst Helen Andrews said “Australia is ripe” for its own version of Donald Trump News Corp Australia

"I think he wants to prevent a Trump in Australia," she said.

"Now, among the many things that Donald Trump destroyed in his journey to the White House, one of them was conservatism because he is not a conservative, he is a protectionist, a populist. "Cory Bernardi's social views eat up all of the media, but he is actually a very committed small-government conservative.

"He likes low taxes. He is not a protectionist. If you are someone who believes the things that Cory Bernardi believes and believes in small government, rather than populism and you see all of this discontent in the public, you don't want that channelled towards a populist party like One Nation that is going to throw out terrorists. You want it channelled towards genuine, principled conservatism. I think that is his game."

Menzies Research Centre research fellow Daisy Cousens said Mr Trump should be considered family.
Menzies Research Centre research fellow Daisy Cousens said Mr Trump should be considered family. News Corp Australia

 


Menzies Research Centre research fellow Daisy Cousens said the way to understand Mr Trump was to think of him like family.

"He is kind of like that weird relative that everyone has that comes over once a year at Christmas, who is nice, but occasionally he says things that just make you go, 'Oh, God, sorry, he didn't mean that', but ultimately you forgive him because he is nice and gives you the best presents," Ms Cousens said.

"He won because of his stance on political correctness and free speech which are the two main concerns of millennials.

"I don't like everything that Trump does or all of his policies, but I do like his stance on that and respect his stance on that and he is of the school of thought of sort of being more socially libertarian in a funny sort of way which a lot of young conservatives are.

"I think his presidency will either be the best four years in American history or a complete disaster. There will be no between."

There’s not a lot that refreshing about US president Donald Trump, according to climate activist Xiuhtezcati Martinez
There’s not a lot that refreshing about US president Donald Trump, according to climate activist Xiuhtezcati Martinez News Corp Australia

Climate activist and hip-hop artist, Xiuhtezcati Martinez said Trump was "refreshing" in one way only.

"I think it is like when you are trying to sleep and someone dumps a bucket of cold water on you," Mr Martinez said.

"Ice cold water. It wakes people up. That is the only successful thing that Trump has done as representation for the American people.

"It has woken people up and brought them together.

"We are thankful for them bringing 300,000 people worldwide after his inauguration to stand in the streets and demonstrate that we are independent standing for a hateful, racist bigot that is a tyrant that will not bring out values that the United States represents."

megan.palin@news.com.au

News Corp Australia


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