I recently received a “community survey” in the mail from my local federal member, Trent Zimmerman, (occupying Joe Hockey’s old seat for the Liberals). Respondents are asked to number from 1 to 4 the issues most important to them from a list of fourteen. Nowhere on the list is reducing the size of government or reducing regulation or lowering taxes or balancing the budget or enhancing national security or achieving the aspiration to spend 2% of GDP on defence or reducing welfare dependency or protecting free speech.
And it goes without saying that no provision is made for those who want to protect our cultural values by halting Muslim immigration. In fact there is nothing on immigration at all.
Now I don’t want to give the impression that there are no worthwhile issues listed. Securing Australia’s borders is there, as are building better local roads, investing in public transport and supporting seniors and aged care, among a number of others. It is what is missing that is of note and some of those effectively occupying the space in their stead:
- Building a strong 21st Century economy
- Creating jobs for the future.
- Supporting renewable energy
- A sustainable environment.
- Investing in innovation and science
What mindset lies behind these issues? First, it is a mindset that sees government at the centre of economic progress. Second, it is a mindset that treats people as idiots by assuming that unless otherwise prompted they might support building a 20th Century economy or creating jobs for the past. Third it is a mindset that is preoccupied with ‘clean’ jobs. There is no invitation to register support for measures to assist mining or farming or heavy manufacturing.
Welcome to the present-day Liberal Party. I could say that it is the party of Malcolm Turnbull but that would be unfair. Turnbull has not made the party in his image. Turnbull is simply a better fit than was Tony Abbott. Mind you, Abbott was hardly a disruptive force. The system does not lend itself to the emergence of disruptive forces. Someone like Donald Trump would not get to first base. In fact, scratch out anyone of stature and principle. Make Australia great again ain’t gonna cut it with pantywaists.
I recall a few years’ ago being introduced to two preselected candidates when I was briefly a member of the Liberal Party. Not trying to be unkind; aspiring they were, inspiring they were distinctly not. Craig Laundy was the electorally successful one of the two.
How on earth were either of them preselected I thought at the time. Both appeared to be devoid of any depth, passion or philosophy. Unsurprisingly, ‘Friend of Palestine’ Mr Laundy went on to oppose changing 18C and to support Turnbull’s elevation. I was wrong. Laundy and the other chap were no doubt selected for good reason. They fitted the Party. I am the one out of step.
I intended to return the survey with some pointed observations. I decided that there was no point. Judging by the content of the survey, the gulf between me and the Liberal Party is becoming unbridgeable. My observations would be filed away in the ‘deplorables’ basket once note was also taken of my opposition to gay marriage – the subject of a separate question.
Of course, I don’t know whether the survey is a creature of Mr Zimmerman, as distinct from the party as a whole. But I suspect that it would pass muster at head office. The Liberal Party is obviously fertile ground for dripping ‘wets’ when the threatening economic and cultural times call for principled conservatives. Abbott’s demise showed how little conservatives hold sway within the party; if any demonstration was needed.
Some conservatives find hope in Cory Bernardi. I don’t. He has the philosophical depth, but from what I have heard from him not the bottle to strike out from the Liberal Party. Pauline Hanson has the bottle and good instincts but perhaps not the philosophical depth. Having said that commonsense goes a long way and she seems to have plenty of that.
When you think about it, commonsense is the defining difference between conservatives and those on the hard left — the Greens and the present-day Labor Party and the soft left — the present-day Liberal Party. Among other things, commonsense tells you that the private sector creates wealth not government; that we can’t go on spending more than we earn: that wind and sun cannot generate base load power; that free speech is a bulwark against despotism; that marriage is between a man and woman; that children should not be confused into believing that their evident gender is a societal construct; that all cultures are not nearly equal; that a religion whose creed preaches supremacism, intolerance and violence is not benign or peaceful; that civilised society cannot exist without borders; and that there are bad people who wish to do us harm and have to be deterred by force of arms.
I don’t think you have to be terribly clever or learned to get all of this. However, you might have to have a touch of the deplorable about you. I bet Ms Hanson would accept that as do I.