Whither the Liberal Party?

Liberal Party of Australia, 2019 Election Flyer [CC0] 

Despite being the natural party of government for decades in Australia, the “broad church” of the Liberal Party appears to be on the ropes. Some say the Liberals need to be more like the teal independents, others that they need to become even more conservative. Neither approach will work. What is needed is a grassroots movement that puts the “liberal” back into the Liberal Party and halts the green-left’s long march through our institutions before it’s too late (and we all sing kumbaya like we have a diversity of views as seen on Q&A.)

Conservatism in its Hobbesian sense was less about a focus on unthinking ‘tradition’ a la Fiddler on the Roof, and more about having a strong government to ensure a stable and free society. Sir Edmund Burke thought English liberalism better than the revolution-to-liberty path taken by the Americans and the French to achieve what the English had already developed – a strong state, a separation of powers, and a Westminster tradition that was stable enough to make daily life predictable, yet flexible enough to allow governments to govern. Until recently, Australia was such a place, where individuals have rights and responsibilities but are viewed as rational beings capable of looking after their own welfare and being tolerant of each other’s divergent views a la John Locke.

This complex intertwining of conservatism and liberalism is at the heart of the Liberal Party ideal, and it is the major difference between the Liberal Party and all the others. Or it used to be, anyway.

Since the late 1990s, internal rifts between liberals and conservatives created the disunity to allow green-left converts within the Liberal Party, what I call il-Liberals, to routinely cross the floor (on ideological, not policy grounds), wish the party was more like the teals, or otherwise develop what I call unoriginal ‘non-policy’ by pursuing the exact opposite of what the government of the day is doing. Rather than strong individual leadership that the flexible party structure allows, the Liberal Party is developing factions and systems of compliance that mirror the green-left and their mini-dictatorships driven by political correctness and woke compliance.

To be sure, Liberals past tried to protect free speech and  academic freedom, but much of the focus was not on core principles but targeted at groups who might (hopefully, one day) support them in an election. This only demonstrates that the Liberals have forgotten the forgotten people.

People didn’t vote for Joh Bjelke-Petersen because he was politically correct, they voted for him (ongoing gerrymandering aside) because he said he was going to do something and then he did it. People didn’t vote for Daniel Andrews because his socialist policies have merit, it’s because he does what he says he is going to do (or so my father reckons). Sorry, did you say something Mr Guy? I didn’t hear you.

Prime Minister Albanese is not of this mould, or your power bills would be down by $275. The jury is still out on whether this means that they will be reduced by $275 by 2025 from the time of the election, or whether after increasing by thousands of dollars they will be $275 less than the highest price between now and 2025. But people voted for Albanese because Morrison was on the nose. And the voters are always right.

Mr Rudd couldn’t hold is temper. Ms Gillard held the backstabbing blade only too well. Mr Abbott couldn’t let go of his enthusiasm for the 1950s, and former PM Scott Morrison couldn’t hold a hose. Mr Turnbull epitomised the worst of the Liberal Party and its current dilemma. Mr Howard, sans broadband, said what he would do and then did it. That’s leadership.

Whether the National Party’s decision to stand behind the brilliant Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is a vote winner remains to be seen, but it is saying what they will do and then doing it. It is also leadership.

Mr Dutton is biding his time and letting politics run its natural course during Labor’s extended honeymoon. Hopefully we will witness some leadership from him soon. But I do hope he or any future Liberal prime minister will end these back-and-forth inquiries into previous governments. If it is not illegal, then the voters have the final say.

Or do they?

The terms of reference for the recent inquiry into Scott Morrison’s multiple ministries appear to have been designed to support a censure in the lower house. Supposedly, Mr Morrison’s bizarre and unnecessarily secretive appointments ‘eroded public trust in responsible government’. Voters knew this already - that’s why he was voted out.

But Mr Albanese thought a bit of deflection from his broken promises and the swiftly sinking ‘Blackout Bowen’ energy policy (amid the dodgy jobs and skills ‘pattern bargaining’ approval by that workplace relations and climate science expert, the highly experienced Senator David Pocock), might be a good way to end the year. None of that has eroded public trust in responsible government (said nobody ever).

Here’s a quick list of all the things going wrong for the Libs: the antics of Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer, NSW Treasurer Matthew Kean, and Mr Malcolm ‘Barnacle’ Turnbull still clinging on for dear life. And Matthew Guy playing Little Dan ‘Lite and Easy’ (is the mic working?) hasn’t helped. That socialism is now rampant in Victoria should be a warning for the ACT Liberals (who no longer have a Liberal senator) that saying you’ll be the same horse with a different jockey is simply non-policy.

Any wonder the Liberals are in trouble.

But there is movement at the station. Or at least at the Coalition station. Standing up against the Voice (being called racist for being against a policy with zero details?). Standing up against ‘Blackout Bowen’ (paying through the nose for zero emissions?). Nuclear (it’s a thing). It’s all a good start. Let’s hear now from Mr Dutton. But wait, there’s more.

How about really standing up for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law? Where the rule of law is sacrosanct and public prosecutors are not emotionally invested in court cases (Did I say that out loud? See free speech, academic freedom above).

P.S. Liberal: adjective, willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one's own; open to new ideas (Dear US Democrats, get your own word). Liberalism: noun, a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise. Liberal Party of Australia: ‘In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise; and if you share this belief, then ours is the Party for you’ (terms and conditions apply). Woke: colloquial, none of the above.