Craig Kelly Who?

Posted: August 7, 2019 in Ranting
Tags: , , ,

Craig Kelly, Liberal MP (photo credit AAP)

As little as a year, ago hardly any of us had heard of Liberal MP, Craig Kelly. Yet now he keeps popping up in the news. So, who is he and just what changed?

Kelly was elected to the House of Representatives for the electorate of Hughes in Sydney, in 2010, being re-elected in 2013, 2016 and 2019.

The best part of a decade is long enough for a politician to make their mark. Yet Kelly’s parliamentary record is quite scant. One thing that never goes begging is the availability of parliamentary committee positions. Most MPs and Senators of the same duration as Kelly have a respectable list of committees they have served on. Kelly, however, has very little. And he has nothing even remotely approaching Ministerial or portfolio activity.

That would seem to suggest that perhaps Kelly is not held in the highest regard by his parliamentary peers, particularly the various PMs and power brokers.

Kelly is part of the conservative bloc, previously headed up informally by Tony Abbott. But even his factional mate didn’t seem to find any real use for him during the unlamented Abbott Prime Ministership.

As an Abbott-follower, Kelly was obviously anti-Turnbull. And here is where things begin to get interesting.

After the infamous spill of Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison found himself in a bit of a quandary. He had also originally been part of the Abbott bloc until presumably he saw more of a political future with Turnbull and deserting the Abbott ranks. After finding himself in the PM’s chair, Morrison was faced with a party riven by disunity. While the conservative faction’s bogeyman, Turnbull, was gone, the faction was still an unsettling influence, punching with more weight than their numbers would suggest. Morrison had to make peace and that meant placating people.

Meanwhile it seems that Kelly’s own immediate party peers had lost interest in him, perhaps not helped by his continuing pro-Abbot stance and things like a hostile anti-climate change position. He lost his pre-selection for the 2019 election, but he wasn’t going to go quietly, threatening to go independent.

That left Morrison with a conservative faction upset at losing one of their own as well as the prospect of a disgruntled former MP causing public grief during an election campaign that the Coalition were supposed to lose.

Morrison’s answer was straightforward. He simply declared that Kelly was to be given back his pre-selection. Thus, he placated the trouble-making conservatives as well as silencing a potentially dangerous voice.

Then came the election with two big results. First, Morrison won despite what all the polls said would happen. Second, Abbott was given the boot by his electorate. The conservative faction had just lost its main driver and chief head-kicker. With Abbott’s loss, the faction suddenly was not the threat it had been. The likes of Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz do not carry nearly the weight that Abbott did.

Kelly’s seat was a fairly safe one for the Liberals and would surely have still been returned to them without Kelly. Morrison’s blunt intervention was probably not needed at all, although hindsight is a wonderous thing.

Circumstances briefly made Craig Kelly a great deal more important than in the past. That is gone. And he has returned to a parliamentary nobody with virtually no meaningful role at all.

Unfortunately, in the interim the news media found Kelly to be good for quick, easy copy with things like more blunt denying climate change. As a result, the news media are still giving this otherwise inconsequential MP, who is totally out of step with mainstream policies and politics, an entirely unwarranted veneer of relevance.

Craig Kelly was very briefly part of the key to Morrison’s settling his hold on the government. That is now well gone. He is so far out of step that it is hard to see him being thrown another pre-selection lifeline come next election.

Hopefully the news media shall tire of him soon and return Craig Kelly to his well-deserved oblivion. Unless there actually is anyone who gives a damn about him?

Ross doesn’t bite – a lot – so if you like this piece, feel free to share it and follow Ross’s Rant. But please – don’t use this without contacting me first.

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