CPAC and its No-Show ‘Conservatives’

Just back from CPAC 2022 and thought I’d share a few highlights.

In fact, incredibly, the whole show – the Conservative Political Action Conference, remember – started with a low light.  Yes, you guessed it.  They gave us an Aboriginal song and dance routine followed by a ‘welcome to country’. I’d like to say that, at its conclusion, you could have heard a pin drop. Not quite, but the applause was so tepid, it was probably touch and go. 

Not so for the follow-up act which first sang ‘We are Australian’ and followed that with a full-throated rendition, on the part of all attending, of the National Anthem.

Senator Jacinta Price kicked off the real proceedings and was greeted with a rapturous standing ovation when she arrived on-stage, a reception she justified by then delivering a powerful address.

Fred Pawle and Johannes Leak remembered the late, great Bill Leak.

Tony Abbott delivered the keynote address and was also given an enthusiastic greeting, which prompted him to lament that more of the attendees did not live in the electorate of Warringah.  During the pandemic hysteria, Abbott was very circumspect in his treatment of the disastrous decisions made by the Morrison government while it was still in office, and more credit to him for that, but he clearly no longer feels constrained and made some cogent points.

After lunch, we were treated to a recorded message of support from NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, which was greeted with a boos and catcalls.

We then heard former Extinction Rebellion member Zion Lights advance a very convincing case for the use of nuclear energy for providing base load power to back up renewables, but, inexplicably, she failed to take the logical next step which suggests that if we adopt nuclear we will not need renewables at all.  Nuclear, being emissions free, could simply replace the 24/7 coal-fired plants that have served us so well for so long.

Michael Schellenberger, author of Apocalypse Never, came next and did not disappoint with his withering demolition of the green playbook, which can be summarised as ‘everything the greens do to supposedly protect the environment is wrong’.  This was a real highlight of the day, and if you haven’t read Apocalypse Never, do yourself a favour.

Senator Matt Canavan did not disappoint.  His message was pretty much what he always says (but there is merit in that) and it was delivered with his usual devastating logic.

The afternoon included useful presentations from Senator Alex Antic, Mathew Whitaker (former Attorney-General under Donald Trump), Daniel Wild from the IPA and Nick Cater.  And, of course, Nigel Farage was as entertaining as usual and provided another highlight later in the afternoon.

DAY TWO commenced inauspiciously for me personally when some bloke on the train I was in, decided to have a psychotic episode.  I was in the upper level of the main carriage and he was in the vestibule section behind me.  It started out as loud muttering, proceeded to shouting and abuse and ended up with physical violence as the man smashed the walls with his fists and I think also with his head.  At that point I decided discretion as the better part of valour and moved to another carriage.  I did not think this warranted a 000 call, so I decided to call the NSW Police Transport Command.  After what felt like about ten minutes worth of useful information, I was put on hold waiting for the next available operator.  I was still there when the train arrived at Central.  I alighted and heard my fellow traveller do the same.  As far as I could see he was allowed to proceed on his merry way.  Where were all the police, I wondered?

Oh, that’s right.  Most of them were at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre making sure that we CPAC attendees did not provoke, by our mere presence, an outbreak of violence by triggered leftie loonies that had gathered noisily there the day before.  The police presence, which I have no doubt CPAC paid handsomely for, was in attendance both days and must have numbered at least thirty officers.  You might argue that we still have free speech in NSW but it is certainly not gratis

The day commenced with an entertaining set piece by Mark Latham and Ross Cameron.  They were followed by conservative rapper Zuby.  I didn’t know much about him and was not particularly looking forward to being rapped at by a man in a baseball cap at 9.30 in the morning.  Well shame on me for my preconceptions.  Zuby, clad in suit and sans baseball cap, delivered a very interesting take on 20 characteristics of human behaviour that he believes shape the dystopian world into which we are rapidly descending. He is very articulate and has an interesting life story.  He is an Oxford graduate of whom James Delingpole would approve.

After this we had talks from Warren Mundine (Chairman of CPSAC), Professor James Allan, Jason Miller (founder of social media platform GETTR) on the subject of censorship.

And then Natalya Melnyk gave an informative talk on the recent history of Ukraine.  She made no bones about the chequered nature of Ukrainian governance since independence. Her essential message, delivered as her final point, was that, no matte how flawed the fledgling democracy of her country may be, it does not deserve what Russia is inflicting upon it.

Ian Plimer gave us a truth-telling about CO2 in his usual combative style,. He was followed by Kevin Donelly and Amanda Stoker, who both delivered thoughtful speeches.

But after lunch we were treated to what turned out to be the absolute highlight of the conference.  Topher Field and his team delivered a presentation on his award-winning documentary Battleground Melbourne (watch it here) There were four presenters (not all of whose names I remember) each of whom released their stories in short bursts throughout the presentation, which was powerful, professional and profoundly moving.

This time you could have heard a pin drop right up until the rousing standing ovation. 

The whole conference was streamed live by ADH TV and I urge reader to check out this presentation on-line – about 2pm on day two.

I bailed out at afternoon-tea time, hoping to beat the NRL Grand Final rush.

Although a lot of the material was stuff we have all heard before, there were some new insights gained and the chance to hear the speakers live and interact with them to some extent was valuable. 

The programme was intense. The morning and afternoon breaks were just long enough to attend the calls of nature and the speakers followed each other immediately.  Only one speaker offered the chance to pose a few questions and that was Nigel Farage.  Overall, this was a good thing.  It kept the conference moving and, although it denied me the chance to display my own erudition by offering up statements thinly disguised as questions, it also meant I didn’t have to sit through half a dozen other people doing the same thing.

One thing that struck me was that Coalition politicians, supposedly conservative, were conspicuous by their absence.  There were only four currently serving Coalition politicians present, Jacinta Price, Matt Canavan, Alex Antic and Keith Pitt – all Senators.  This was telling because if there was one theme that emerged from CPAC it was that conservatives need to have the courage of their convictions and stand up for what they believe in.  And that’s true, but it seems their elected representatives don’t quite subscribe to that view.

29 thoughts on “CPAC and its No-Show ‘Conservatives’

  • Tom Lewis says:

    An interesting summary.

    Yes, if the Liberal Party want to move ahead, they really need to stop having a policy of being slightly to the right of Labor, and hoping people will vote for them.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Thanks Peter for that concise rundown. Had thought about going. Went to the previous one. But pretty well knew what was going to be said and how little impact it would have. Preaching to the choir. Still good for the soul I suppose.

  • DougD says:

    Tom – or in the case of the LNP in Qld, stop not having any identifiable policies at all.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    Thank you for informing us which Coalition members attended this conference, Mr. O’Brien. I will not immediately condemn any individual who was NOT there; he may have had something else that he truly needed to do, or been unable to attend for some other reason. However, it is no great surprise that my local MP, Andrew Hastie, was absent. During the Present Crisis, my sister and I have called this man, whom we had previously thought quite highly of, the Cellar Dweller due to his being almost entirely silent and absent while our freedoms were torn from us.
    Mr. Hastie promotes himself as a great conservative, and I believe that, in many ways, he is. His absence from this meeting indicates otherwise, but, as I said, I will not completely condemn him without knowing the circumstances.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    We were sorry to miss CPAC this year after the US electoral system let us down at CPAC 2020, where on the night for a long time things seemed to be going so well until ‘unknown’ votes teamed into crucial electoral offices altogether at the eleventh hour. It seemed at that time pretty much to indicate that Trump was right and his electoral win was stolen. Recent events with the FBI don’t inspire confidence.
    We’ll see you all at the next one in 2021, we declared in sorrow at CPAC 2020, but inspite of us both signing The Great Barrington Declaration as PhD Science and MPH respectively with many other hopeful scientists looking for change, we didn’t get a CPAC then as it was cancelled due to ongoing lockdowns, which, interestingly, the powers that be are now all noticeably walking back on.
    This time for CPAC our cancelled pre-paid 2020 trip to the Cook Islands came good – take it or leave it – on CPAC dates and we’ve been overlooking a beach and blue reef while catching up with some of the speakers online, which has been helpful. But not as helpful as your rundown above, Peter, and many thanks for it, for we have plenty now to discuss on our return with friends who were present.
    The fact that no Federal Liberal MHR’s were present is disgraceful.
    There is no Liz Truss figure lurking in our Net Zero shadows.
    And good on her for very plainly instructing King Charles 111 to butt out or lose his head.
    There has to be some resistance to Net Zero here or our goose is cooked too. Good on CPAC.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      You said: “There has to be some resistance to Net Zero here or our goose is cooked too. Good on CPAC.”
      My wife and I have both had four vaccination shots each, but despite those we tested positive to covid, but with mild flu symptoms at worst. But some people we know have been very sick from covid, despite getting vaccinated. This is NOT an argument against vaccination, or an endorsement of the usual denialist lines of this site that the truth or falsity of the propositions and discoveries of science is conditional on the effect of same on business-as-usual, and where the Ostrich Schools of Climatology and of Epidemiology are thriving.
      But this denialist form of ‘scepticism’ sets the believer up to be pretty thoroughly dudded when the Big One arrives; the deadly Black-Death type epidemic which we humans with our huge urban population densities have set ourselves up rather brilliantly for. Think rabbits in Australia and the myxomatosis virus, which initially took out 99.8% of their population.
      But, dudded or not, you can’t keep a determined coal shill or other brand of denialist down.

      • Elizabeth Beare says:

        One can compare Covid and Net Zero as both are symptomatic of the same sort of governmental scientific over-reach and reliance on poor science – but they are about very different issues. This doesn’t of course obviate real science rather than fake science on both as separate issues.

        So – with epidemics, one day a ‘big one’ in the form of a major viral disease may start to depopulate the human species, but scientific sense must be applied – it is unlikely that the epidemic curve will be the same in every region or equal amongst all individuals and responses must be commensurate with the threat. Plus, epidemics do have curves and disease immunity does matter. The human body is well evolved to fight back and vaccinations do help, no question about that
        Any problem virus or whatever and its vector should stamped upon by whatever means we have available bearing in mind the nature and severity of the threat. The plan for an epidemic such as the 1918-20 flu pandemic was containment to lower the curve but with no lockdowns as they would be counter-productive to herd immunity and social wellbeing. The plan recognised that immunity, vaccination, modern medical treatments and a good level of human nutrition would all be different to previous devastating flu epidemics. That plan wasn’t followed with Covid. Next time it should be, judiciously, not as a panicked one-size-fits-all reaction..

        With ‘climate change’, we haven’t yet been scientifically shown that there is any real problem let alone any anthropogenic cause of it. It is mostly modelling in terms of catastrophic effects. Historic and minor cllimate changes have always been happening, mostly regional but some seemingly on a world-scale. Reasons are variable. Evidence for anything current and anthropogenic on a world-scale is thin to non-existent. So much of the glacier, temperature, ice core, snow cover, polar ice, tree ring and other supporting-factor evidence is open to criticism on its validity.

      • Citizen Kane says:

        The only reasoning here that approximates an ostrich, is the one that ignores all the perpetual cosmic and global drivers of climate such as the solar cycle, the orbital cycle, long term hydrological cycles etc, etc and replaces them with a monomaniacal religious zealotry on the role of 400ppm of atmospheric CO2 as the main or even significant determinant of climate. This ostrich approach is even more blinkered by the fact that atmospheric CO2’s role as a significant driver of climate is not supported in the least by the geological record and the fact that the physicochemical properties of atmospheric CO2 have a low saturation point of infrared radiation meaning that it could never lead to a linear ‘run away’ global warming. But i guess we can never underestimate the motivations of BIG Lithium shills.

  • lbloveday says:

    I presumed Warren Mundine was Chairman of CPAC, but I seldom leave a stone unturned so I DuckDuckGoed CSPAC just in case.

  • Lonsdale says:

    Was Quadrant there?

    • Roger Franklin says:

      Many Quadrant subscribers were there, no doubt.

      As for me, I’m heading to the States shortly for the midterms (and to meet my first grandchild), so was simply too busy making preparations, trying to find a housesitter/cat-feeder etc., to get to Sydney.

      • Elizabeth Beare says:

        Cat sitters, the globetrotters’ perennial problem for adored cats and dogs, who do miss us a lot.
        Nevertheless, they cope, as we do. And nothing should stand between a Grandpa and his first grandie.
        We will be in the US for the mid-terms too but deep in the Southern delta. Plus Florida, De Santis territory.

  • Davidovich says:

    One would expect such a conference to be well attended by many Liberal and National Party politicians but, in keeping with their inability to proudly espouse conservative policies, they appear to have adopted their favourite approach which is to hide in case anybody says something critical of them. Little wonder they are in Opposition federally and soon to be in the rest of Australia where they have abandoned the field to Labor and the Greens.

  • Rob H says:

    No speaker stood up and clearly condemned the the Liberal/National Coalition for abject failure to deliver on its written principles and a demand those members who do not campaign and support in Parliament those principles resign. Number 1 of course would be Malcolm Turnbull who remains a member of the party only because of support from current sitting Liberals. Nothing will change with these so called “big tent” members who will ensure the Labor Light approach is paramount.

  • Paul from Sydney says:

    I too attended most of CPAC. While I appreciate the message that conservatives need to stand up and fight, there was very little on how to do that in an effective way that actually engages the hearts and minds of Australians who could be sympathetic but typically aren’t when it comes to the ballot box or the media they consume. How can conservatives get the message across without being seen as irrational and lacking compassion by middle Australia, when this is how we are spun in mainstream media? There was next to nothing on this strategic question. Also, apart from Tony Abbott’s speech which threaded the needle very carefully, there was little exploration of some of the inherent contradictions between conservatism, classical liberalism and libertarianism. Covering the differences with slogans like ‘freedom’ hardly helps advance our coherence. On the whole it was an intellectually shallow affair unfortunately.

    • davidbarton says:

      Good points Paul, especially that there seems to be no advice at all about how we are to fight this ‘Aboriginal’ and ‘Climate Change’ onslaught. Worse still, there seems to be no effective or large-scale opposition being organised Australia-wide at all. Yes, there are some great voices in Price, Canavan and Antic, but it’s just all words, preaching to the converted. Unless there is some large-scale, wide-spread, well-funded counter-view launched and launched very soon, then this battle will be lost – again! So who is going to step and do it, and more importantly, who is going to fund it?

  • Suburban Boy says:

    Peter, it is a shame you couldn’t stay for the final session on Day Two. If the Battleground Melbourne presentation was the conference highlight – and it was, as you say – then arguably the runner-up was the session with Nick Minchin, Teena McQueen and Amanda Stoker.

    Michin and McQueen decided to inform the audience that the Liberal Party was doing a splendid job in standing up for conservative values and taking the fight to the woke.

    The audience expressed its scorn with a torrent of boos and cat-calls that were amply deserved for such mendacious and self-serving rubbish. While McQueen was disconcerted, Michin decided to double down and was greeted with an even louder wave of contempt from an audience that was quite fed-up with having its intelligence insulted.

    A splendid time was had by all (except the hapless Nick and Teena).

  • john.singer says:

    The non-attendance by ALL the NSW elected members of Parliament Liberal and National is unforgivable. Then to have the Conservatives in attendance asked to become members of the Liberal Party illustrates why they are in Opposition nearly everywhere. Their promoters did not even mention the National Party (which has propped them up).
    Politicians not mentioned above were Mark Latham NSW ON Leader, and Malcolm Roberts QLD ON Senator which suggests why Conservstives are parking their vote away from City LibNats.
    An excellent program for those of us watching on ADH.TV leaving me still unamazed at the failure of Federal and State Politicians to even want to learn what the people are thinking.

  • Adelagado says:

    I can’t believe they started with a Welcome to Country ceremony That truly shows they have lost the plot. I’d have walked out, or been thrown out, there and then. A Welcome to Country is exactly the opposite. Its purpose is to remind you that this is not your homeland and you are not really welcome at all.

    • John Cook says:

      Agree. It does seem to be quite incongruous for a conservative group to include a jape that is only a few decades old.

    • Paul from Sydney says:

      If it wasn’t a welcome to country I would’ve quite enjoyed the Aboriginal trio’s music and dance performance. A pity it had to be clouded that way.

      • Elizabeth Beare says:

        True enough, traditional cultures of all sorts can be fun to see in dance, music, song and stories. No-one wants to ethnically cleanse any of the many traditional ethnic cultures in Australia, including aboriginal culture. It is giving pre-eminance to one that gets on people’s nerves, and they start to shuffle. When one culture and group identity (uncertainly derived) is identified in law as pre-eminant, that is when real trouble begins. The Voice tries to do that. It has no place in our Constitution.

  • Sydgal says:

    As a first-time attendee, I really enjoyed CPAC and found it most enlightening. I can now follow-up with some other organisations and groups. The pace was fast and there were some very comprehensive presentations and powerpoints (I missed the first part of Zuby’s excellent talk) and yes, a very moving short film about the Melbourne lockdown protests. Former senator E Abetz was in the audience. The ICC had superb facilities – apparently the original venue was Luna Park but they pulled out at the last minute. In relation to the Welcome to Country – as someone has commented elsewhere, perhaps that component was written into the venue contract.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Sydgal, “perhaps that component was written into the venue contract.” Quite possibly, which is even more outrageous when you think about it.

    • Elizabeth Beare says:

      There may also have been an element of not wanting to antagonise or appear rude to aboriginal participants in CPAC or watchers of the streaming, but that does seem to be a misplaced politeness. Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine have shown very clearly that with regard to the situation of aborigines in Australia they want genuine action not symbolic action. Overt symbolic action does nothing to improve the reality.

  • Paul W says:

    If Welcome to Country was called a Greeting and Blessing Ceremony no-one would object. That makes it even worse because it could actually be a legitimate element but instead in typical fashion it only serves Left-wing sectarianism.

    • Elizabeth Beare says:

      Good point, Paul W. A ‘greeting’ ceremony would be far less objectionable. It is being ‘welcommed’ to one’s own country that sticks in the craw – as it is obviously meant to do. The term itself is making a territorial claim. In doing so, it is an ‘up yours’ to the rest of us.
      Traditional greeting ceremonies, btw, involved an exchange of sweat from the armpits of the meeting parties, gathered by hand in an armpit exchange, and then smearing their sweat on yourself.
      An interesting exchange of bodily fluids. Probably best not practiced in polite society today. 🙂

  • scottprasser54 says:

    Keith Pitt is not a Senator

  • ghaycroft says:

    There was one other LNP politician present. Bryson Head is the new Qld state member for Marani (Biloela ) Keep an eye on him.

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