As Dennis Shanahan points out, debate fails when the protagonists’ religious beliefs become the focus (“Not a first violet in sectarian spring”, The Australian, 7/10). But the current spat between free-market Liberals and DLP-style conservatives is symptomatic of a real schism.
Economic conservatives like Peter Costello, despite their conventional description, have a radical project of privatisation and deregulation, and may well be socially progressive. They have little in common with social conservatives like John Madigan, who may well have traditional statist views on economic management. They are only united by their opposition to the progressive agenda, but even then, not to the same parts of it. Cracks are bound to appear in such a marriage of convenience.