Earlier this week, while touring London, Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull gave a speech outlining the founding philosophy of the Liberal Party’s founder, Sir Robert Menzies.
The PM basically stated the party was set up as a centrist small ‘l’ liberal party or, a party philosophically based in essentially classical liberalism i.e. individualism, equality, low taxing small decentralised government, entrepreneurial, family, community civic spirit etc.
As a party in opposition to the Left leaning Labor party, the Liberal Party has mainly been in power whilst in partnership with the conservative National Party; their union of sorts is called the Coalition. It hasn’t always been a marriage made in heaven but they have dominated the Australian political scene since the party’s inception in 1949.
Attorney General, seeing himself as a party historian and intellectual has stepped in and appeared on last night’s ABC’ Lateline program to put a spin on his leader’s views; on what the Liberal Party stands for.
He laughably took a blended position, in an attempt to ameliorate Turnbull’s argument or simply being too smart for his own good; of stating that:
Liberalism and Conservatism are basically indistinguishable in the 21st century political scene.
It was pathetic to watch as it was ridiculous to listen to. Especially when one considers it was the Marriage Equality aspirations of liberals that kicked off the debate in the first place. Idealogically, Liberalism accepts the premise of equality, however, conservatism is where the opposition to this concept exists. Arguing that marriage, traditionally, is between a man and a woman. The Bible, both Old and New Testament, has many examples where this authority is written as god’s will. People who interpret the bible in this way are looking increasingly to be on the wrong side of history.
What has gone unnoticed is how the former ‘conservative’ PM, Tony Abbott, basically said the same thing in his book Battlelines. He noted that Mr Menzies knew of the ideological divide that exists in the USA of Conservatives and Liberals but went ahead nonetheless, joining forces with all-and-any anti-Labor parties, most notably the much older Country (later National) part of Australia. Mr Menzies would go on to be our longest serving PM; holding power since the party’s iconic 1949 victory till his retirement in 1966.
To see a desperate George Brandis argue this mish mash spin shows, to all and sundry, that the party is in severe decline. And his attempt to be intellectually dishonest as a sycophant of the PM was simply absurd. The sooner this accident prone AG retires or is pushed off as the next British High Commissioner; the better our quality of in-depth political debate will be in this country.
We’ll also see, as the PM returns to Australia in the next few days, how he handles his conservative backers he appears to have alienated and now maligned.
Interesting days ahead, or the decline of a once great party; time will tell.