WHEN it comes to running in a federal election for the first time, one would expect a new political party to be cautiously optimistic and manage expectations. Not The New Liberals – or TNL, as they are now known.
The insurgent, anti-corruption party – launched by barrister Victor Kline in 2019 and registered in March – is bullish about making waves in this month’s Australian election.
Their message is minimalist – put the small ‘l’ back into ‘liberalism’ – but appears to be proving effective with disillusioned voters, many of whom Kline is hoping to attract from the mainstream Liberal Party of Australia.
Despite barely being featured in federal election polls, TNL’s own internal predictions have them winning in two seats in the House of Representatives, and in the North Sydney Senate seat. If the party pulls it off, it will be a remarkable debut in Australian politics.
Kline told Redaction Report: “If anything, the major parties have come closer together in their philosophies and approach that things should be business as usual in Canberra.
“And people are having none of it. Here in the seat of North Sydney, which I am contesting, dozens of people tell me every day that, whilst they have voted Liberal all their lives, they will no longer do so. And they do not see Labor as a viable alternative.”
TNL have only contested a single federal seat in their brief history. Karen Porter, an independent running under the TNL banner, only received 1.28 per cent of votes in a packed by-election in 2020. But the party feel they have made significant inroads, especially in Sydney.
Pollsters currently show Australian voters moving away from the mainstream Labor-Liberal duopoly – and TNL are confident of attracting most of that vote.
“Our very recent internal poll in North Sydney has us on 14.9%, the Independent Tink on 15.8 per cent, Labor on 19.6 per cent and the incumbent Liberal member on 30.6 per cent,” Kline revealed to Redaction Report.
“The Liberal, who in previous elections has garnered well over 50% and not needed to go to preferences, is therefore down at least 23 points.
“We see no way he can win from there. We are going up with every poll and the others are all going down, so we now see ourselves as a real chance provided preferences fall favourably.”
TNL’s 19 candidates will run under a primary message – one that is cross-party and timely.
“Many accept what we say that we are in a climate emergency, so that our policy of net zero emissions by 2030 (which is the strongest in the country and, along with Norway and Finland, the strongest in the world) is essential.”
But bullish as they are, the two lower house and one Senate seat won’t give TNL much influence over the next few years, albeit a crucial parliamentary voice.
Meanwhile, coalitions are common in Australian politics – current PM Scott Morrison heads up a Liberal-National coalition, of course – and could give TNL a way into power early on.
However, Kline was quick to reject these claims.
He said: “Our policy is that we would not go into a coalition as such. We would guarantee supply but not confidence to any minority government and would judge each piece of legislation on its merits.
“Of course. we would try to support a minority government wherever possible (though as you imply it is hard to imagine getting along with the Old Libs), but we would not be writing a blank cheque.”
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