Conservative parties in virtually all western democracies have shifted to the right economically, and the Australian Liberal Party is no exception. However, in most countries a new generation of conservative leaders display eagerness to adopt more socially liberal policies in tandem with full-throttle free market (ie right wing) economics. In the case of Tony Abbott’s Liberals, however, the party has not only moved right of the earlier Turnbull leadership years, but it has also shifted to a more authoritarian position on the social scale. This is a move that will no doubt appeal to the otherwise mostly homeless former supporters of One Nation.
Labor reflects this drift, now occupying a space to the right of the 1980s Liberals. The debate between the two main parties, however heated, is within narrowing parameters. The two parties are now closer together than at any other time. The clash of economic vision of earlier campaigns is absent. It’s no longer about whether the prevailing neoliberal orthodoxy is actually desirable, but merely a question of which party can manage it best.
By contrast, the Greens, once pretty much a single issue party, have emerged with a comprehensive social democratic manifesto, more in tune with an earlier Labor Party, and significantly more socially liberal than either of the others.