Niki Savva is apparently unaware of how sadly comic her obsessive Turnbull sycophancy and Abbott-hatred have come to look, repeated monotonously in The Australian. One of the more recent effusions by this spouse of a prime ministerial staffer is headed Turnbull is flawed but only he can win for the Libs and breaks new ground in the reversal of fact. She even managed to dredge up that greatest beat-up of all time, Abbott’s “knighting” of Prince Philip, which unlike Turnbull’s energy policies, cost the community nothing. It simply brought Australia into line with other Commonwealth countries. The remainder of her article is long on abuse but short on facts, plus religious statements of faith such as that under Turnbull the next election is “eminently winnable.”
If the Liberals go into the next election under Turnbull, I believe that they will stand not only to lose but to lose on a scale that will make their recent wipe-out in Western Australia look like the proverbial vicarage tea-party. Forget about merely losing government for a term, let alone any chance of retaining it: the Liberals, as the standard-bearers of Australia’s liberal-conservative tradition, under a continuing Turnbull leadership, stand a good chance of disappearing from history, or perhaps, like the British Liberals, dragging out existence as a sort of ghost of a party. A conservative party under a man with no belief in conservatism is simply not viable.
They just might be saved in the short term by the electorate’s quite justified dread of Shorten’s ruinous 19th century socialism and generally dubious connections, but that’s not the way to bet. And remember 1982, when Labor in a last-minute ambush produced Bob Hawke as leader and trounced Fraser?
The closest thing to values that Turnbull has evoked has been the near-meaningless mantra of “Jobs and Growth.” There is no sign that he comprehends there are things of more transcendent importance. He has given no sign of any awareness of warnings like that given by Italian writer Giulio Meotti:
Without the courage to insist on safeguarding our values, and passing our inheritance on to our children, we Europeans will simply disappear — as many groups have before. With us, however, will disappear the most enlightened civilization the world has ever known.
It is conservatives who take values seriously, who see society not as a machine to be re-jigged but as an old growth to be trimmed and tended with care, the traditions, conventions and values of the past to be take seriously (as Chesterton said, “the democracy of the dead”). They will find precious few signs of such attitudes in what the ABC/Fairfax axis calls the “moderate” – ie Turnbullite – wing of the Liberal Party today.
As Whitlam, Fraser and others discovered to their cost, one thing the Australian electorate dislikes is arrogance. Voters are hardly likely to flock to a prime minister who is arrogance personified — and whose arrogance seems, moreover, to be quite without justification.
Turnbull has allowed the Australian government to pay, on an annual basis, $43.8 million to the Palestinian Authority and $17.6 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The PA is not only a vicious, corrupt dictatorship but both are directly connected to anti-Jewish terrorism and murder. About half the PA’s budget goes to paying terrorists and their families. The fact Turnbull and Bishop have made simultaneous warm overtures to Israel bespeaks either ignorant confusion of an attempt to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. This is shocking and indefensible.
The Liberal powerbrokers, if there are any left, cannot depend on conservatives voting for them because, as Mark Textor shamefully and inaccurately opined, they have nowhere else to go. They do. This time there are a number of conservative, patriotic or generally-right-of-centre alternatives. None can be seen as achieving power in its own right but they do not need to. There are none, so far, I agree with completely, and I have deep disagreements with some, but compared to Turnbull’s Black Hand gang, they offer, so far, an awareness of honour and courage. It must take some bravery to be Pauline Hanson.
I write this with no pleasure. My family are rusted-on Liberals. My father and maternal grandfather were Liberal MPs and founding members of the party (my father being briefly Premier of WA). I have twice been a Liberal State candidate and have worked for the party in various capacities since I was teenager. With my children, that makes four generations.
The salient point is that many of the conservatives who make up a large part of the Liberal Party are utterly disgusted by Turnbull’s betrayal of Abbott in particular and betrayal of Liberal principles in general. And they have maintained their rage. The Turnbull regime amounts to nothing less than an attempt to hi-jack the Liberal Party, and in this endeavour it has had far too much success. It has already made it in some places unrecognisable as the party of Menzies and Howard.
Why, apart from the fear of what Shorten would do in government, should any conservative vote for it? Indeed, many a conservative might reason that Australia would at least survive three years of Shorten, but the Liberal Party, and Australia conservatism as a whole, would not survive three more years of Turnbull. Shortly before the last election Turnbull sent me and some other Liberals an emetic e-mail explaining that his father had taught him “loyalty,” proving only that his father was either not a very effective teacher or had a very strange idea of loyalty. How can Turnbull ask for loyalty when he has shown none?
Fiscally, Turnbull offers only Labor-lite high-taxing, high-spending. He is bashing the thrifty middle-class and self-funded retirees, foisting ruinous and, for pensioners etc., perhaps literally lethal energy policies on Australia, despite our huge energy resources, unreliable and costly wind and solar power, plus a scheme, as far as I can make out, involving making the Snowy River flow uphill.
There is an incoherent defence policy under one of the least impressive Defence Ministers ever, with a chief apparently falling in line with the official zeitgeist by solemnly banning skull decorations and Phantom rings for troops, as well as the name “Spartan” – not sissy enough for the jazz-ballet dancing, free verse-reading new model army apparently being aimed for. Meanwhile, notice has been given that ADF officers will be promoted according to their active support for homosexuality, signalled by a little rainbow flag beside their names. A word from the Prime Minister might have restored sanity to the circus of political correctness that is undermining our armed forces (there is no room to go into all the details here), but of course such a word is not forthcoming.
Despite assurances, the Liberal Party under Turnbull did not protect either freedom of speech or freedom of religion in the same-sex marriage bill.
The utterly toxic Section 18C is still in place. True, an attempt to modify it after the death of Bill Leak was defeated in the Senate but a determined Prime Minister could have found other ways to nullify it, or at least could have publicly and generously compensated and apologised to its victims, from Andrew Bolt to the Queensland University of Technology students, with a public denunciation in Parliament of the legislation. That would have knocked the stuffing out of it. Don’t tell me a leader, with all the resources of the Commonwealth Attorney-General at his disposal and a gaggle of party and parliamentary QCs, couldn’t have found a way.
Turnbull’s sins of omission, if anything, outweigh his sins of commission. All over what has been called the Free World there is an attack on free speech, now reaching its apogee in Scotland with a man being heavily fined for filming a dog giving a Nazi salute. In Australia, as elsewhere, a chief executive is needed who is a robust and high-profile defender of free speech. But from Turnbull, nothing.
Mosques dispensing Islamic extremism, even with connections to apologists for terrorism and to overt anti-Semitism, are allowed to flourish. Supporting the white farmers facing genocide in South Africa, or closing down jihad-preaching mosques might show a little gumption and resolve, and even draw some conservative votes.There are many thousands of Vietnamese in Australia (voters) who would appreciate Australia demanding that the Vietnamese police-state dictatorship respect human rights (if that annoys Hanoi’s boss-thugs, so much the better). The moving tributes the Vietmanese-Australians paid “father and saviour” Malcolm Fraser on his death showed their strong sense of gratitude.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for any of this to happen.
Abbott, despite moving too slowly in some areas, and making some blunders — what first-term leader hasn’t? — at least knew that the culture war was to be fought, and even more to the point, whose side he was on.
I know the Arts Council is supposed to be free of political influence but still I have a hard time believing that under Abbott the small grant to Quadrant, Australia’s only conservative literary-intellectual magazine, praised by some of the greatest names in the world in arts and letters, would have been cut off, while left magazines and a festival of Muslim hate-poetry (exposed by Mark Latham in The Spectator) would continue to receive grants totalling six figures from various government and quasi-government patrons. The leader of what sort of party allows his arts minister to heave an impotent shrug and do nothing upon being informed that one artistic recipient of the taxpayers’ largesse made her name by making “art” out of her own excrement?
Michael Connor wrote in Quadrant:
So-called conservative arts ministers place Left operatives in positions of power and encourage them to fund our cultural enemies. Coalition governments reward the people who hate them for the abuse they turn against them. Conservative politicians smile in photographs taken with people who loathe them, but who accept their money, [while] young (and not so young) conservative artists will be locked out for their lifetimes.
There was a real possibility of Abbott reducing this. Turnbull and his cronies offer none, and cultural conservatives know it. Their despair and rage may sometimes be motivated by self-interest, but by no means always.
Nothing has been done to clean up the extreme political bias of the gigantic, $1.1-billion ABC, in clear breach of its charter, and without a single conservative figure. Moreover, it is obvious that under the present regime nothing will be done — unless, of course, its grant money is actually increased.
Overarching all, there is the great, existential clash of cultures and civilizations. Again, apart from the commitment of a few troops at America’s behest, our Prime Minister gives no sign that he is even aware of it.
We can expect all this to be remembered by a substantial number of voters when the government, with its one-seat majority, achieved by Turnbull’s less-than-brilliant tactics, faces them at the next election.