The Liberal Party has published an internal review of its 2022 Federal election loss. It was authored by Liberal Senator Jane Hume and former Party Director Brian Loughnane.
The review suggests the reasons for the loss include negative perceptions of Scott Morrison, party dysfunction, the pandemic, and failure to appeal to women voters.
It recommends a 50% target for women candidates and party members, but not a formal quota.
Size of the loss
The authors note the Liberal Party lost “nearly all” of its inner metropolitan seats and several outer metropolitan seats. The only remaining “stronghold” is in rural areas, where many seats are held by their Coalition partner, the Nationals.
“No party that is seeking to form Government has a pathway to a majority solely through rural and regional electorates,” the review states.
The review describes the pandemic as “equivalent to war-time”. It suggests the pandemic generated negativity about the Government’s performance, especially during the first Omicron wave and in WA, where the Government supported Clive Palmer’s legal challenge against the border closure.
The review acknowledged voter perceptions of then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison “deteriorated significantly”, in part because of the pandemic and in part because voters felt he was “not attuned to the concerns of women”. It suggests Morrison was seen as “out of touch” and that leadership became “the most influential driver” of voting intention.
The review was highly critical of internal processes for candidate selection and campaigning, especially in NSW where there were lengthy delays.
It argued this dysfunction put off “attractive” potential candidates and meant party members were reluctant to volunteer.
The review recommended better internal processes and better candidate vetting to avoid “possible embarrassment”.
The review describes the Liberal Party’s declining support among women as a “decisive factor” in the defeat.
Of the 30 seats with the most female professionals, the Liberals won only three, compared to 15 previously. Women of every age group preferred Labor.
The review identified “a sense that the Liberal Party is failing to adequately represent the values and priorities of women in modern Australia.”
The review recommended the party set a target for 50% of its parliamentary representatives to be women within a decade.
It also recommended 50% targets for party membership and for internal party leadership positions.
However, it did not recommend a binding quota.
The review also noted a significant drop in support for the party among Chinese voters, which it attributed to a perception the Coalition Government’s criticisms of the Chinese Government “included the wider Chinese community more generally.”
The authors suggested this perception was “obviously incorrect”, but that it needed to ensure “language used cannot be misinterpreted as insensitive” in future.
The review argued the election campaign itself had been positive and had reduced the gap between the Coalition and Labor by 3-4% in key seats. This success was in part attributed to shifting the focus onto economic issues.
The review also suggested the Party’s advertising had been effective, with evidence of “cut-through” from the slogan “It won’t be easy under Albanese” and the “Hole in the Budget” ad, which the authors say is “still being shared and disseminated on social media today”.