Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lisa Molinaro interviews Otto Marasco about the L Party

"... This is the challenge, to successfully differentiate the party from Labor through the upholding of traditional Liberal values associated with Social Conservatism and Economic liberalism and in doing so not alienating the electorate. This is very challenging because at least on the surface, today’s ALP advocates a belief ... "

Thursday 28 August 2008


LISA MOLINARO: It has been a tumultuous nine months for the Liberal party. A comprehensive election loss last November coupled with ongoing leadership issues have meant that Kevin Rudd has enjoyed an otherwise easier run to date.

Joining me today is Otto Marasco who is the owner and author of the blog, The L Party. Now Otto, I was going to ask what the L Party is all about but after having visited myself I think you’ve pretty well covered it onsite so instead I ask, why; why the L Party?

OTTO MARASCO: Thanks Lisa, I think it’s fair to say that I felt compelled if you like, to kick start something online for promoting the Liberal Party and also as an outlet for expressing my ideas, concerns and questions on not just the Liberals but the Rudd Government especially after the Kevin ’07 experience last year. The ALP made far better use of the World Wide Web and was able to communicate its message effectively, particularly to our younger voters.

LISA MOLINARO: So you are targeting a younger audience because it sure doesn’t read that way…

OTTO MARASCO: I’d like to think that it targets a wide-ranging audience so in a sense you are correct in saying that it doesn’t read that way. Let me say this though, The Liberal Party as I see it, needs to uphold its traditional values as related to social conservatism and economic liberalism but in doing so they need to explore methods of making these values fashionable if you like, in a world where progressive media rules the print and electronic airwaves.

LISA MOLINARO: Like the ABC perhaps?

OTTO MARASCO: Certainly the ABC and lets not forget Fairfax, it’s a vast reach they have in terms of breadth and depth of audience and includes many local or community papers. But getting back to the upholding of traditional values part, the process can be assisted by seeking ways to develop a conservative online infrastructure to shape the party’s thinking. Now obviously I refer to think tanks and the like, but also the development of online communities that include freelance commentators and bloggers not too dissimilar to those that are aligned with the Republican Party in the United States. In Australia, we simply do not have a conservative Liberal blogosphere, it’s about time we did as a way of driving the message, to assist the idea generation process for more inventive policy development, not just for election campaigns but between elections as well.

LISA MOLINARO: So this is where the L Party comes in…

OTTO MARASCO: It’s my hope that the L Party can be one of many online portals that can assist. A small contribution to the development of an online community, that can include and bloggers. The new media must be embraced and especially I might add youtube, as another medium or vehicle to connect with the electorate.

LISA MOLINARO: I’ll come back to this but changing the subject, the Rudd Government has been criticized for dong very little of substance to date but some have suggested that the liberals did nothing for ten years, how do you respond to that?

OTTO MARASCO: How do I respond? I would have to say that they’re misinformed, what can I say, misinformation, ignorance perhaps, actually its certainly a lack of knowledge I mean, if free trade agreements, world beating economic growth, very low levels of unemployment, massive reduction in Government debt is doing nothing, and I’m only scratching the surface, then someone’s out of touch.

LISA MOLINARO: So why did they lose so comprehensively?

OTTO MARASCO: I notice you used that term earlier, I don’t think its right to say beaten comprehensively just beaten. We must realize the Libs finished with nearly forty-seven and a half percent of the two party votes with a large number of seats that could have gone either way. Of the eighty-three seats Labor won, nearly ten seats were won by margins of less than one point five percent, seats like Bennelong, Solomon and Flynn come to mind.

LISA MOLINARO: But for all the talk of great economics, they were beaten.

OTTO MARASCO: It was Rudd, who incidentally is very good with the media, the unions and the general ALP campaign machine that did, I must say, did a fine job in communicating their message.

LISA MOLINARO: So where too, what must the Liberal party do to get into office, is it simply a case of resolving the leadership crises?

OTTO MARASCO: On the last question, the Liberal leadership question will be fully resolved within weeks or at most a month or two that I am sure of. On what they must do to win back office, that’s a big question with lots of possible answers, I would however suggest that they avoid at all costs, falling into the trap of me too – isms. I’d hate to see liberal politicians trying to occupy the middle ground with Rudd ‘07 style “me too” responses in regards to existing and future policy development. This is the challenge, to successfully differentiate the party from Labor through the upholding of traditional Liberal values associated with Social Conservatism and Economic liberalism and in doing so not alienating the electorate. This is very challenging because at least on the surface, today’s ALP advocates a belief in being a fiscally responsible unit, in small governance, in minimal taxation, and free markets. I mean hello. So these ideals needs to be marketed such that firstly, the electorate appends them to the Liberal party as apposed to the ALP and secondly in a manner that makes them palatable for the electorate or so to speak. It’s easier said than done, but with the development of new media strategies and the development of an online liberal conservative infrastructure it’s far from impossible. It is here that we can do with a lesson from our American conservative colleagues I refer to the Michelle Malkins, Ann Coulters and Jules Crittenden’s of the world.

LISA MOLINARO: So I gather you’re saying that its not just a case of drawing more visitors to the Liberal Party website …

OTTO MARASCO: Well it’s that too, like it would not hurt to start some moderated discussion boards on the site but it’s so much more. Speaking of the site, I offered one valuable suggestion to the Liberal Party’s Futures Committee earlier this year. I thought that the site member’s profile section was lacking and suggested that it be overhauled so as members can provide information about themselves, perhaps incorporating optional questions such as, what motivated you to join the party. Alternatively, about specific contributions the member feels he/she can make to the party, there are many options. At this critical time, its vitally important that the party screen members for talent to maximize the contribution each can make. Being able to provide more information within the member’s only section of the Liberal party site is a helpful first step. In my case, I had several suggestions to make but was disappointed to see that no provision was made to share them.

LISA MOLINARO: Any ambitions yourself, a career in politics perhaps?

OTTO MARASCO: The thought has crossed my mind more than once Lisa

LISA MOLINARO: Otto, I’m afraid that’s all we have time for which is a pity because I thought you were just getting on a role. Maybe we can continue this another time.

OTTO MARASCO: Feel free to ask, always available

LISA MOLINARO: Good luck with the L Party


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