John Howard’s dig at outgoing MP
At federal level, the Liberal Party is imploding. At state level, they're barely putting up a fight.
It's a "crisis", 730 host Leigh Sales asserted on Tuesday night. The party is in crisis.
But ask former Liberal Prime Minster John Howard what he makes of the current state of affairs and he isn't terribly fazed.
"The Federal Liberal Government is doing well," Mr Howard told the program on the same day his beloved party watched one of its own defect to the crossbench, sticking the boot in on the way out.
Security. Borders. The Budget. Everything is working out just fine, he says.
"One of the reasons it doesn't suggest a crisis is on all the fundamentals the Federal Liberal Government is doing well.
"The Prime Minister announced today that we are going to have a surplus Budget next year. When you consider the mess we inherited five years ago, that is a remarkable achievement."
But what about the thrashing Victorian Liberal Leader Matthew Guy took on the weekend? Mr Howard reckons that's a Victorian problem, not a Liberal Party problem.
"Sure, we are disappointed about what happened in Victoria, but one of the things that we have to do is not automatically extrapolate that into the federal scene," Mr Howard said.
Mr Howard's support for his party has never wavered. It showed with his not-so-subtle parting shot at Julia Banks, the former Liberal MP for the marginal Victorian seat of Chisholm who today declared herself an independent.
Hours after Ms Banks delivered an impassioned speech prioritising the "people before the party", Mr Howard suggested she remember what got her where she is today.
"I obviously don't know much about Julia Banks, except that I did campaign for her and she, like me, owes a lot to the Liberal Party," Mr Howard said.
"I would never have achieved anything in politics without the Liberal Party. I owe them so much. I think is always important for people who are elected to Parliament, whether it is on the Labor side or our side, to remember that they are overwhelmingly there because of their patronage from their own party and they should never forget that."
“I obviously don’t know much about Julia Banks except that I did campaign for her in her marginal seat of Chisholm. She, like me, owes a lot to the Liberal Party." John Howard on Julia Banks #auspol #abc730 pic.twitter.com/Ubi2ZqwBmn— abc730 (@abc730) November 27, 2018
Critics on social media suggested the Liberal Party had wheeled out the former PM as they always do in times of crisis.
"How many times between now and the election are the LNP going to roll out John Howard," Julieanne Wagner wrote on Twitter. "It is going to be a long five months."
But others praised the former PM for being "clear and competent" and making "so much sense".
@leighsales Great interview with John Howard :) he makes so much sense when he talks and its all honest and from the heart— glenncogar (@glenncogar) November 27, 2018
Mr Howard said he believes Scott Morrison has "got the capacity" to win at next year's election and he has his full support.
"When Tony Abbott was the Prime Minister I supported him 100 per cent," he told the 730 host.
"When Malcolm Turnbull was the Prime Minister I supported him and I believe I retain the friendship of both men. But now Scott Morrison is there, I am going to give him total support because I want him to win. I believe it would be better for Australia if he does and I want all of the members of the Liberal Party to bear in mind the importance of working together.
"Don't get too despairing about what happened in Victoria."