In shock and anger over Liberal defeat, Sky News commentators urge party to shift right

·4-min read

When the Coalition lost government on Saturday night, Sky’s Paul Murray admitted he was “overly emotional” and needed to sleep on the result before analysing what went wrong.

But the journalist who campaigned nightly on his TV show to “stop the mad left” winning government was sure of one thing: “The resistance starts here.”

For six weeks Murray told his audience the polls were inaccurate and the Coalition could still win. He had cosy chats with Scott Morrison, who chose to appear on his program rather than the ABC during the election campaign.

“I’m proud of my mate”, an emotional Murray said on Saturday night when it was clear Morrison had lost.

On Sunday night he was gearing up for a new fight, saying: “Welcome to the first meeting of the new resistance”.

The reaction from News Corp’s media stable of commentators to the Labor win and the teal and Greens gains has ranged from shock to grief and anger.

Outsiders co-host Rowan Dean wasn’t taking it well. The editor of the Spectator said we were facing “three years of hard-core left-wing government that will destroy the fabric of this nation”.

For Peta Credlin, one of Murray’s Sky After Dark colleagues, the way forward was clear. The Liberal party, for which she worked before becoming a Sky talking head, must lurch to the right to provide a clear alternative.

“From Menzies, through Fraser and Howard to Abbott, the lesson is clear,” Credlin wrote in the News Corp tabloids on Sunday. “The Coalition wins and keeps winning when it’s a strong alternative to Labor. It loses when it’s hard to distinguish from the other side.”

Related: The election outcome exposes a gaping disconnect between News Corp and voters | Malcolm Farr

Michael Kroger, a former Liberal powerbroker and Sky regular, expressed the pain the Sky After Dark crew was feeling after the election of an Albanese Labor government: “It wasn’t the best night for us. Let’s be truthful. It was an absolute shocker.”

Herald Sun columnist and Outsiders host, Rita Panahi, was quick to accuse Albanese of causing division because the first thing he said in his victory speech was that Labor will commit “in full” to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Panahi said: “It wasn’t about Australia on the international stage. The very first thing [Labor] said was concerned with race, identity politics, division, and this is what it’s going to be like for the next three years. So strap yourself in. It’s going to be an interesting period.”

Like Credlin and Kroger, Panahi was calling on the Liberals to once again appeal to the “conservative values that Labor have abandoned”.

“Labor is a radically left party which the Coalition did not in any way go after,” she said.

But it was Andrew Bolt, the Herald Sun’s star columnist and Sky News host, who reacted with visceral anger.

“Scott Morrison’s pathetic Liberals got smashed by telling the world they were the Guilty Party,” Bolt wrote. “Guilty on the ‘climate emergency’. Guilty of being mean to women. Guilty on ‘reconciliation’.

“Who’d vote for such a mewling pack of self-haters with so little self-respect that they won’t even sack a party traitor like Malcolm Turnbull? Thank God this election wipe-out has taken out many of their worst grovellers.

“Please, Peter Dutton, take over, and make the Liberals stop apologising for not being more like Labor. Let the Liberals be Liberals again. But still I see some of the more clueless Liberal survivors crawl from the wreckage and whimper that they’ve got to swing even more to the Left.”

Alex Antic, a South Australian Liberal senator, told Sky News the “reality” is the Liberal party is a “centre-right conservative party” and should never have “capitulated” to net zero or vaccine mandates.

“We are the party of individual choice, freedom of speech and so forth,” he said.

The associate editor of the Australian, Chris Kenny, who had the unenviable job of attending the Labor victory party, seemed almost caught up in the moment and was generous towards the victor.

“It’s an amazing story,” Kenny said. “Albo grew up in this neck of the woods. Of course, we all know the story about a single mother on a disability pension. He is a great story of Australian success, of the way this nation operates.”

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