‘A private school boy’: Liberals attack one of their own over housing affordability
Prominent Liberal ministers have launched a stinging attack on one of their own – the head of the NSW Young Liberals, Harry Stutchbury – over his stance on housing affordability.
In a provocative opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald, the 26-year-old Mr Stutchbury argued the Liberal Party should abolish the exemption that allows retirees to claim the pension despite owning multi-million dollar homes. The long-standing arrangement means a person’s primary dwelling is not counted in the asset test for the aged pension, and presently enjoys bipartisan support in the political arena.
Mr Stutchbury said the Liberals were “terrified of taking serious steps to tackle housing affordability”, having been burnt by its attempt to curb superannuation excesses before the last election.
Harry Stutchbury, the president of the NSW Young Liberals. Photo: Supplied
In response, NSW Counter Terrorism Minister David Elliott blasted Mr Stutchbury on Facebook, suggesting Liberal voters in western Sydney would use the opinion piece to light their barbecues.
“A middle class eastern suburbs private school boy is hardly qualified to pass judgement on something he’s never faced,” Mr Elliott wrote. “Haven’t we already had our quota of policy brain farts?”
He also referred to Mr Stutchbury’s father’s job as editor-in-chief of the n Financial Review, which is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald. The two newspapers have separate editorial departments and Michael Stutchbury said he played “no role whatsoever” in publishing the piece.
Federal Assistant Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke – a factional ally of Mr Elliott on the centre-right – joined the throng, dismissing Mr Stutchbury’s contributions as lazy and wrong.
“It definitely was intellectually lazy and inaccurately posited that older people exercising their absolute right to stay in their own home as long as they want are somehow hurting young people from getting ahead,” Mr Hawke wrote. “Sadly, there is a lot of this sort of groupthink around these days.”
The public spat reflects the disintegrating relationship between the dominant moderate faction and the ailing centre-right bloc in NSW, which until recently had forged something of an alliance.
Behind the scenes, the public pile-on has caused angst in the party’s senior ranks, including among the moderate-dominated state executive team. As president of the NSW Young Liberals, Mr Stutchbury has a seat on the executive and is also exempt from the party’s strict rules preventing members commenting in the media.
It is routine and expected for Young Liberal presidents to criticise Coalition governments on policy matters relevant to young people. Mr Stutchbury’s predecessor Alex Dore, whacked the NSW government over the late-night lockout laws and school funding.
“Young Liberals have always taken great delight at tilting the senior party windmills,” posted NSW upper house Liberal Shayne Mallard in response to his colleague Mr Elliott. “Good to make us uncomfortable and take a second look at some things we take for granted.”
Another senior Liberal said the outburst from Mr Elliott and Mr Hawke was “a juvenile tantrum from two junior ministers who should know better”.
A popular figure in the party, Mr Stutchbury was elected to the role in October with 94 per cent of the vote. He works in communications for the NSW Minerals Council and previously worked for former prime minister John Howard and Transport Minister Andrew Constance.
More than two years ago, Mr Stutchbury defected to the party’s dominant moderate faction, whose truce with the centre-right has recently broken down over a series of internal disputes. He declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media.
In an extensive debate on his personal Facebook page, Mr Elliott stressed that his gripe with Mr Stutchbury was not personal and the two had never met. “But this sort of disloyalty and mislead[ing] criticism against your own party doesn’t say much for him,” he said.Posted in: 苏州美甲