Nationals taken for granted, says political expert

Warren Truss
Warren Truss

THE Liberal Party seems to be "taking the Nationals for granted", but a leading political academic expects the smaller Coalition partner will only "toe the party line".

And that was despite the reported clashes between the Nationals and the Liberal Party over the Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme.

La Trobe University Emeritus Professor Judith Brett has written much about the country-city divide and how political debate affects regional Australia.

But she said not a great deal had been offered to regional Australians during the election campaign.

Prof Brett said this was primarily down to "the absence of the country independents from the campaign".

"The last parliament was a bit of a high point for regional Australia, and for the influence of regional issues on politics," she said.

"But to date, it seems the Liberal Party has been taking the Nationals for granted, and this is displayed in country Victoria, where the Liberals put up a candidate in a three-cornered contest against the Nationals."

While Prof Brett said Nationals leader Warren Truss had been "almost invisible" in the campaign to date, Mr Truss is expected to reveal regional policies during a speech at the National Press Club this week.

But she said the influence of the Nationals had waned, and despite "loudly proclaiming their independence, in the end they tend to toe the party line" in and outside the Coalition party room.

While Prof Brett acknowledged some backlash over Mr Abbott's paid parental leave scheme, she said the Nationals would be placated at the Cabinet table.

"People seem to be predicting a large divide between them, but the Nationals are given a pretty good deal with ministerial seats," she said.

"But it's hard to know whether they might be given trade or not - they have in the past, but I'm not sure they would get it."

Topics:  federal election 2013 lnp nationals tony abbott

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