TOUGH TIMES: Nationals federal president Larry Anthony, speaking at the Nationals Federal Council   last year, has some big challenges in coming months.
TOUGH TIMES: Nationals federal president Larry Anthony, speaking at the Nationals Federal Council last year, has some big challenges in coming months. AAP/MICK TSIKAS

Let's get this party started

WHAT'S happened to the National Party?

As a kid growing up in the bush, the National Party was such a compelling and imposing political force on the Australian political landscape.

Men such as Doug Anthony, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Russ Hinze and Ian Sinclair were powerful and intuitive.

They got things done for the bush and their Liberal Party colleagues knew they meant business.

Continuing that tradition were men like John Anderson, Tim Fischer and Ron Boswell.

Those halcyon days are a far cry from today, where the Nationals have meekly surrendered their ideals to outside forces.

It's hardly surprising that a "get rid of the Nationals” group has been formed.

The National Party is unquestionably at serious risk in both the NSW and federal elections in coming months.

Much of its authority and voter attraction has been eroded by fringe parties such as Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernardi, Bob Katter, and the Fishers and Shooters Party.

Most conservative voters are not switching to Labor, but to other parties.

The reason is clear.

The Nationals have lost their common touch.

They have blindly fallen in behind the Liberal Party, becoming a bit player in the Coalition.

When former NSW premier Mike Baird decided to ban greyhounds in 2015, Nationals leader Troy Grant simply followed his Coalition leader off the cliff.

Dyed in the wool National voters couldn't believe their party would vote alongside the Greens, who would like to see farming closed in this country because of their rabid animal-activism policies.

We know how the dog ban finished, but it showed a remarkable weakness and lack of political strength from the Nationals at a time when that decision was threatening the very livelihood of scores of country NSW towns.

Now the Nationals are mired in scandal with Barnaby Joyce and Andrew Broad.

Those behind the "get rid of the Nationals” group have questionable credentials, but they will be a threat to the Nationals ... as will Katter and One Nation.

As Australians tire of the division and disunity among the conservatives in Canberra, they are branching out into other conservative options.

The Coalition vote in the next federal election could be reduced to record low primary figures.

That's bad news for the Nationals, who are already on the nose.

National Party chairman Larry Anthony has some big challenges in coming months.

The Nats need to fight back because Australia needs a strong National Party.

More than ever, the bush needs a strong National Party.

Gleeso's News Talk airs weeknights at 5pm (6pm AEDT) on Sky News Live and Sky News on WIN.



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