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Turnbull govt "at war with the people": former SA Liberal director

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The Liberal Party figure who guided the South Australian party to the last state election has launched an extraordinary attack on the Turnbull Government and the "political brats" advising him, warning the Liberals face electoral annihilation across the country.

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The Turnbull government is at war with the people. This is a government which hates their own constituents. The Liberal Party has lost touch with what it stands for and will be decimated unless it changes tack. Across the next electoral cycle the Liberals will lose power federally and in every state with the exception, perhaps, of Tasmania.

Those are not the words of the opposition, but of one of the Liberal Party’s leading strategists of the past 20 years.

Geoffrey Greene has worked as Liberal Party state director in both South Australia and Queensland and was one of the architects behind John Howard’s successful election campaigns between 1996 and 2007.

Greene spoke to The New Daily in the hope of shocking his party back from the brink.

Known for his ruthless political savvy, Greene was an old-fashioned, behind-the-scenes political operative. His public declaration of despair follows on from the resignations this month of Liberal federal director Tony Nutt and his deputy John Burston, also a former South Australian Liberal Party director.

“They would not have supported the warfare this government has declared on its citizens,” Greene said.

“The Turnbull government has attacked every core constituency, small business, superannuants, pensioners, families with children, all because they have a budget that is out of control.

“They have not done anything about their own backyard. Public servants still fly at the front of the plane.”

He warns that the crashing political fortunes of his party is being accompanied by administrative collapse at federal, state and branch levels, with membership and donations in freefall.

Geoff Greene. Photo: AAP/Dave Hunt

Greene said a major Liberal Party constituency was small business, yet they had been burdened with excessive regulation.

“This is a government which only listens to big business,” Greene said. “Small business has been annihilated.”

Greene sheets home blame for the Liberal Party debacle to a lack of professionalism.

“Generally speaking, the whole malaise of this government is due to inept advice, ministerial and organisational,” he said. “The Liberal Party once possessed a professional caste of political operatives and campaign staff who helped politicians nuance their messages and understand the voters.

“We knew from our polling how every person voted in every street and why. We understood how to ensure policy platforms met the expectations of the citizenry.”

Greene said Malcolm Turnbull did not represent the traditionally socially conservative Liberal voter.

“The rise of Pauline Hanson is a reflection that the Liberal Party has walked away from their values. It permeates the brand across the country. It is offensive.”

Greene said the party’s drift from its base was compounded by the lack of professional political operatives now working in parliamentary offices.

“I have never seen a set of government ministers more captured by their departments,” he said. “Managers sourced from the department are loyal to their departments, professional advisers are loyal to their parties, and to those who voted for them.

“Turnbull is running the country with a group of 25-year-old political brats. He doesn’t listen.”

From Centrelink robo-calls to the botched implementation of the NBN, government incompetence is at the forefront of public concerns.

“It will be a hard road to win them back,” Greene said.

In recent weeks there have been frantic attempts by Turnbull to seize control of the national narrative, including the “dog-whistling” of citizenship tests and attacks on so-called dole bludgers, many of whom, with the destruction of manufacturing, are simply unable to find a job.

All this activity barely lifted Turnbull’s dismal standing in the polls a single point.

“Turnbull has nothing left,” Greene said. “There are no other constituencies his government can attack.”

This article was first published at The New Daily.

Geoffrey Greene was the director of the South Australian Liberal Party from 2012 to 2015.

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