Barrie Cassidy posits, after rambling for half an article, something which I am somewhat qualified to comment upon:
There is no equivalent in Australia of the Tea Party that has wreaked havoc upon the Republicans in the United States. Not yet anyway.
But there is at the margins signs of a "weak-tea party", made up essentially of far right commentators and a small minority in the parliamentary party who want to use high office to settle scores.We are lucky in this country not to suffer a lot of the insanities built into the American system of democracy. One of the main flaws in the US system at the moment is the primacy of money being funnelled by old rich white men to unelected political organisations which then hold elected officials to ransom, dragging them away from the platform they were elected on and towards positions that suit the interests of old rich white men. This long story, which has developed over the course of decades, is now coming to a head with the congressional wing of the Republican Party declaring civil war against conservative groups like Heritage Action and Club for Growth. These "super PACs" are, like the Tea Party, funded mostly by billionaires and share most of their values, so that the Tea Party itself is mostly an entity of the grass roots but the super PACs act as their avatars in Washington.
Thankfully, we don't have that sort of perversion of democracy at work in Australia, or at least nowhere near those levels. When Murray Newman bangs on about lowering the minimum wage, no one treats it seriously and it means nothing. David Leyjonhelm of the LDP banged on about the exact same subject the other day in the Fin Review as republished on Catallaxy Files, and that also had no effect whatsoever. If this was America, there would be danger of supply being blocked in the Senate until all Hungry Jack's burger flippers were paid $5 an hour. Erick Erickson of Redstate.com wields significant power; when he makes threats like this, you can be pretty sure it's going to come true:
Then a comical and strategically miscalculated thing happened. John Boehner decided to let everyone know publicly what many have known privately for a while — he won’t be coming back in 2015 as Speaker.Erickson's closest counterpart in Australia might be Sinclair Davidson, who sometimes uses Catallaxy to attack others on the right, but whose rants largely fall on deaf ears.
There are, however, some significant parallels between the Tea Party and the Liberal Party of Australia. The Tea Party's ultimate goal in life is to gain political power, but then dismantle government from the inside. Their libertarian ideal is for government to consist of police plus defence, and very little else. The Liberal Party seems to be doing a swell job of implosion itself in its first three months, which have been the worst in recorded history. Like the Tea Party-inspired Republicans, Abbott gained a reputation as leading a "party of no" while in opposition, and he has continued that negativity into government with most of his actions concerned with tearing down previous Labor reforms.
Of course, the old saw about never assuming conspiracy when incompetency is more believable applies here. Is Abbott leading an extremist fifth column with an agenda of self sabotage to undermine the legitimacy of government... or is he just not any good at governing?