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The liberties of George Brandis by @awelder

In Andrew Elder, Brandis Remember This Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Ideology, Journalism, Liberal Party, Media Reform on May 22, 2013 at 7:17 PM
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Tony Abbott and George Brandis before his address on freedom of speech. Picture: Sam Mooy Source: The Australian

By Andrew Elder

May 22, 2014

Margo: After the recent George ‘free speech’ Brandis speech  I asked (begged) @awelder to write me a piece on the civil liberties credentials of the man who would be Attorney General under an Abbott Government. This is Andrew’s first piece for @NoFibs. Thank you.

There is a story of a Queensland shearing team and a cook who was especially sensitive to their rough-and-ready ways. One day the shearers came for their meal break to find the cook refusing to serve them. Someone was sent in to find out the problem: the peacemaker returned to the shearers and asked “All right, which one of you bastards called the cook a bastard?”. After a pause one of the shearers replied: “Never mind that – who called that bastard a cook?”.

When George Brandis calls himself a defender of our liberties, and of media freedoms in particular, why is he taken at face value? What makes you think that if Brandis was confronted with a threat to civil liberties, he’d do anything but cave in and insist it was for our own good?

George Brandis was apparently big on civil liberties as a University of Queensland student, and studied their roots in philosophy and law at Oxford, as a Commonwealth (not a Rhodes, as so often misreported) Scholar. He became a barrister specialising in trade practices law, a field dedicated to defence against unfair market practices – essential freedoms play a role, kind of, but they involve the relationship between government and corporations rather than with or among individuals. Very little of his 15 years as a barrister was spent at the coalface of civil liberties, asserting the rights of clients from low socio-economic background against crusty police and snippy magistrates.

Before becoming a barrister, Brandis co-edited a book on Liberal politics called Liberals face the future. The book followed the defeat of the Fraser government federally, the defeat of longterm Liberal governments in states like Victoria, and the removal of the Liberals from Coalition government in Queensland. Three chapters are co-written by Brandis: ‘Liberal values’, ‘The Liberal Party: towards government’, and ‘Policy choices for Liberals’. All expound liberal philosophy and try to balance it against conservatism and libertarianism, but all shy away from actually showing what liberal policy might look like for Australians of that time.

In 2000 Brandis became a Senator, replacing Warwick Parer, who was one of John Howard’s closest friends. In his maiden speech Brandis quoted from Isaiah Berlin, Shakespeare, J S Mill and Adam Smith, and lumped ‘political correctness’ in with tyrannies. All the big decisions seem to have been taken, and Brandis would have our roles as citizens and legislators to provide the aspic in which they are to be preserved. Liberties are to be inherited and defended, not advanced or reinvented, nor extended to those excluded from the birthright in the past.

Most of Brandis’ parliamentary career has taken place since 2001, when the attacks on the US on 11 September that year ushered in a series of challenges to the execution of civil liberties under law. His thinking on the matter appears to have been piecemeal and working on trade-offs rather than on guiding principles on the execution of justice in 21st century Australia. Brandis claimed the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005 represented:

a very conscientious attempt within the government to reconcile those two conflicting values: the real—not the imaginary or fanciful—threat of domestic terrorist violence in Australia and the fact that as a liberal democracy we fight with one hand tied behind our backs.

The lesson from the Second World War, and indeed the end of the Cold War, is that social/liberal democracies are more resilient than tyrannies – even those beset, to whatever degree, by political correctness. It is telling that Brandis relies upon the following quote to an extent that would have made the blood of his Joh-era Queensland youth run cold: Read the rest of this entry »

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Trying for Pyne and Entsch accountability on @MRowlandMP baby leave

In Ideology, Industrial Relations, Liberal Party, Margo Kingston, Misogyny, Paid Parental LEave on May 21, 2013 at 1:45 PM
Refused leave to look after her sick daughter: Michelle Rowland with daughter Octavia Chaaya and husband Michael Chaaya. Photo: Supplied - The Age

Refused leave to look after her sick daughter: Michelle Rowland with daughter Octavia Chaaya and husband Michael Chaaya. Photo: Supplied – The Age

By Margo Kingston

May 21, 2013

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about the Coalition’s May 16 response to the revelation of its decision to refuse Labor MP Michelle Rowland a pair to be with her ill baby.

Christopher Pyne, the likely new head of government business in the House of Representatives,  and Warren Entsch, the likely chief whip in an Abbott Government, made several false statements to the public about the matter which they have not withdrawn. Neither have apologised to Ms Rowland for relying on that false information to question her behaviour as a mother. Mr Abbott has not been questioned about their behaviour, and Mr Pyne has sought to erase his statements from the public record by failing to post the transcript on his website

http://www.pyneonline.com.au/category/media/transcripts

I believe it is a baseline responsibility of political journalists to require that politicians tell the truth to the public. If they don’t, more politicians will lie more often, and the public will be more misinformed than they already are. It’s an accountability responsibility of the fourth estate which involves seeking to uncover the truth and insisting that politicians who have not told the truth correct the record and explain the reasons for their falsehoods.

Last Thursday, May 16, News Limited papers published the news that Mr Entsch had refused Ms Rowland’s request for permission to return to Sydney early to be with her sick baby.

Press gallery journos on morning duty outside the doors of Parliament House, and the gallery, led by Fairfax media, Nine news and ABC radio, did a strong job getting most of the truth and the lies on the public record. Due to Pyne’s transcript cover-up, the record of his doorstop was missing, and I published it after Fairfax online editor Tim Lester kindly sent me the audio feed available to the Press Gallery.

But hey, the issue blew up on budget reply day and Press Gallery journos moved on. Fair enough – there’s a lot fewer of them these days, and they have many more platforms to fill.

So there’s a gap that new media needs to fill. We can’t do the job as well, of course, because we aren’t backed by big media employers and thus don’t have the power to pressure politicians to answer our questions. But we can put on the record the fact that politicians who have misled the people have been asked to correct false statements.

My first step was to DM Ms Rowland asking her to write a piece detailing her version of exactly what happened. And that’s when I realised that there is yet another factor in play in the brave new world of public affairs that I hadn’t comprehended – the social media pressure on politicians not to pursue stories to protect themselves from harm.

Ms Rowland said she didn’t want to write about her ordeal because she had already been falsely accused of playing politics with her child and needed to move on. As a result of statements by Mr Entsch questioning the quality of her care for her baby, she said she had been bombarded with tweets and emails saying, among other things, that she was heartless mother and would be referred to DOCS (the NSW Department of Children’s Services). ‘I don’t want crazies to mess with my mind on this. I’m a first time mother and this is the first time my baby has been this sick.’

She was happy to give me the facts as she knew them, and I talked her into letting me quote her for this story.

So here we go. Read the rest of this entry »

The Opposition #NDIS no show. A rant from the heart by @R_Chirgwin

In Federal Election, Health, Ideology, Liberal Party, NDIS on May 13, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Wed, May 16 2013
People’s obligation in the first instance is to be in this Parliament.  — Warren Entsch:
  1. The LNP’s absence in Parliament in the chamber for the NDIS legislation … atrocious. Nutlessness as a service.
  2. So, Abbott tells the whip “nobody attend”. Whip tells nutless sheep “nobody attend”. What a grovelling bunch of coprophages they are.
  3. A minimal gesture of respect to the disabled would have put at least Abbott in the chamber for the NDIS first reading. (Yes I’m ranting)
  4. (Mute me if you like. Fight me if you dare) Abbott’s absence is the mark of the petty, vindictive, vicious, gratuitously nasty …
  5. … proud-to-hate, revelling in despising those who don’t fit his fresh-from-knuckle-dragging American philosophy … a shrivelled, heartless…
  6. …horror of a pond-scum, a dweller in the arse of life, a devourer of misery, the kith and kin, pith and epitome of the worst of Rand.
  7. Had Tony Abbott the faint shreds of decency you could attribute to a hyena, he’d have been present in the chamber. But …
  8. … This scummy vote-grubber, this little poseur of stunts, this infamous little ponce for whom “conscience” hangs in the wardrobe …
  9. … holding second place to his “imitation suit of the Lizard People” can’t manage to actually warm the SEAT HE WAS ELECTED TO …
  10. … to honour a move that is in favour of one of the most suffering groups of society. This man sucks shit lozenges and smiles.
  11. As for the rest of the LNP members. Having been lettuce-whipped into panting submission by your great leader, not one – NOT ONE of you…

The Liberal Party’s war on freedoms: My reply to Brandis

In Brandis Remember This Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Ideology, Liberal Party, Margo Kingston on May 10, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Capture_2013_05_10_15_41_00_803

By Margo Kingston

May 10, 2013

But at least the debates about freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which we have seen in the past couple of years, have been a sharp reminder to the Liberal Party
of its historic mission. For in the freedom wars, there has been only one party which has stood steadfastly on the side of freedom.’ – Freedom Wars: The George Brandis speech

I used to be quite close to George. We were both small-l liberals, not surprising because we grew up under Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and studied law at Queensland University at the same time, a time of the right-to-march protests. For Queenslanders of our era, free speech and political freedoms are fundamental because we’ve lived under a government that didn’t believe in either.

George is a Menzies scholar, and I asked him why Sir Robert, a true believer in democratic values, had banned the Communist Party. I learned that he had tried very, very hard not to.

We fell out when he signed a stat dec denying he had called Howard a ‘lying rodent‘. I was shocked because I knew he had called him a liar and a rodent. Still am.

In retirement I eschewed anger, and was surprised how deeply angry I became while watching his free speech interview on Lateline. Luckily I’ve also learned not to write in anger, so I spent the week publishing extracts from my book which detail some of the relentless attacks on free speech and political freedom which were a hallmark of the Howard Government. That’s what the book is about, really, and that’s why, after voting Liberal in 1996, I became a Howard-hater.

How could George forget? I mean, he was one of those who fought Howard’s attempt to trample our freedoms in his anti-terror laws! How could he forget?

I think he has to forget because he has ditched his core values to survive in a Party which has slowly and surely eliminated the moderate, Menzies branch of the broad church. He has had to prove he’s not one of those limp-wristed small-l liberals any more.

The other reason for personal anger was his assertion that Bolt and Albrechtsen were the only journos who supported free speech. I have written about and campaigned for free speech all my working life, beginning with Labor’s attempt in the early 1990s to ban political advertising during elections. I have also opposed racial vilification laws on free speech grounds, and campaigned to maintain media diversity to protect free speech. It is true that many journalists, including me, support media reform  for reasons eloquently stated by Press Council chief Julian Disney (see here  and here).  We support reform because we believe in free speech, and the Brandis smear against journalists who want reform made me feel sick.

So, having sorted out the reasons for my personal anger, I planned to write a considered response to George today. This morning, before the bombshell news that Bolt and the IPA were asking Australians to donate to an IPA free speech fund, Google revealed that I had already done so.

My reply is a 2004 speech to the Sydney Institute, the same organisation which hosted George’s ‘freedom wars’ speech.

George, I am still a small l liberal. I guess you had to black out your party’s horrific free speech and political freedom record under Howard so you can sleep at night in your new skin. Good luck with that.


Not Happy, John! Reflections of a Webdiarist

By Margo Kingston
August 11, 2004

The day after Mark Latham was elected ALP leader by a whisker, I had a coffee with a Liberal MP stunned by his ladder-of-opportunity victory speech. “We’re in trouble,” he said. “Latham has updated Menzies’ ‘Forgotten People’.” Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom Wars: The George Brandis speech

In Brandis Remember This Freedom, Freedom of the Press, Ideology, Journalism, Liberal Party, Margo Kingston, Media Reform, MSM on May 9, 2013 at 6:22 PM
Liberal shadow attorney-general Senator George Brandis. Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Advertiser

Liberal shadow attorney-general Senator George Brandis. Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Advertiser


ABC Lateline Interview May 7, 2013

Margo: Well here it is, the Brandis speech on free speech he calls the Freedom Wars. It is not online, so Barry Tucker rang the Brandis office and obtained a copy. Thank you @btckr. I have a feeling I’ll want to write a response soon – my boiling anger at his @Lateline interview on the speech has just about subsided enough to safely have a go. (UPDATE: My reply to Brandis.)

Thursday 21 March – the last sitting day before Parliament rose for the Easter recess – will long be remembered as one of those days of frenzy and madness which infrequently, but memorably, punctuate the pages of our political history. It was, of course, the day of the famous leadership challenge that wasn’t. We will long remember Simon Crean’s stupendous press conference, as much as we remember the confused hours and bizarre outcome which it called forth. The political shenanigans of that day masked an event which was, in its way, even more consequential: the announcement earlier that morning by the Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, that the Government would not proceed with its attempt to create a statutory office of Public Interest Media Advocate – the most overt interference by an Australian government with the freedom of the press since Governor Darling’s (also unsuccessful) attempt to licence newspapers in the colony of New South Wales in 1825.

Just 24 hours earlier, the Attorney-General, Mr Mark Dreyfus, had announced that the Government was also abandoning another of its ill-conceived assaults on political freedom, the bizarrely titled Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, which famously – or perhaps I should say infamously – proposed to make actionable the expression of political opinions on the ground that they might be insulting or offensive to other citizens – and, for good measure, proposed to test that requirement by the subjective standard and with a reverse onus of proof.

That same morning, as Mr Dreyfus was announcing the government’s backdown on the Anti-Discrimination Bill, Mr Crean gave a little-noticed speech in the House of Representatives – although he did not know it at the time, his last Parliamentary speech as Arts Minister – introducing the Australia Council Bill. This Bill, currently before the Parliament, is the product of an extensive review of Australia’s principal arts funding body, whose operations have hitherto been governed by a Whitlam-era statue, the Australia Council Act of 1975. Although Mr Crean told the House that “the core principles of the Council … enshrined in the [1975] Act … are … retained by this bill”, there is one core principle which has disappeared entirely.[1] S. 5 of the existing Act defines the functions of the Australia Council as being to formulate and carry out policies designed, inter alia, “to uphold and promote the right of persons to freedom in the practice of the arts”. However, when one inspects the comparable clause of the new Bill, one discovers that the protection of artistic freedom has mysteriously disappeared from among the Australia Council’s core functions: a development not missed by the arts community themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Missing an IPA transparency moment

In Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party, Margo Kingston on May 6, 2013 at 12:14 AM
IPA is conducting scientific research which is, or may prove to be, of value to Australia, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, BHP Billiton, Western Mining, Caltex, Esso Australia (a subsidiary of Exxon), Shell, Woodside Petroleum, Murray Irrigation Ltd. Telstra, Clough engineering, Visy and News Ltd.

The IPA is an Approved Research Institute (ARI) and therefore eligible for endorsement as a deductible gift recipient (DGR). Donations from secret donors are tax deductible.

Jon Faine’s Friday Wrap. with John Roskam from the IPA and Sally Warhaft from the Wheeler Centre.

Broadcast Friday 26 April 2013.

FAINE: I’d like a pet plebiscite on disclosing the funding sources of the IPA says Belinda in McLeod.
ROSKAM: We’ll do a deal Belinda, we’ll disclose our sources one we know how much Jon Faine is paid.
FAINE: Sixteen minutes to eleven on 7…
WARHAFT: I wouldn’t have put that, oh Faine.
FAINE: Sixteen minutes to eleven on 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Victoria.
WARHAFT: Fess up now.
WARHAFT: Now is your big opportunity. It’s finally come…
ROSKAM: Now is your chance Jon to find the IPA’s funding sources.
WARHAFT: …after what a decade of trying, you just, you’re five seconds away or perhaps two.
FAINE: Insofar as the AB…I haven’t as I said before, I haven’t been asked, I haven’t been asked how I feel but I tell you now how I’m feeling about it…
WARHAFT: Can I just say I am sitting in a studio with 2 men blushing right now.
FAINE: No, I tell you how I feel..
WARHAFT: Absolutely terrifying.
FAINE: I tell you how I feel about it right now which is that if the ABC is going release details of everybody’s pay that’s fine, I have no problem with mine being released,…
WARHAFT: I agree with that. I agree with that.
FAINE: but i’m certainly not releasing mine whilst the rest are kept secret.
WARHAFT: And totally fair enough too.
FAINE: Yeah and you know, I think when people find out how little we’re paid compared to …
WARHAFT: Thar’s the embarrassment
FAINE: … the amounts paid to commercial broadcasters who do the same, ‘the’ sort of same sort of jobs…they go…
WARHAFT: Forget broadcasters, this is general people.
FAINE: Did you see Olivia Wirth the spin doctor from Qantas, in that magazine article last week.
ROSKAM: I did see that article, how much was she reputedly on?
FAINE: Eight hundred housand dollars to do spinning for Qantas.
WARHAFT: I think we are talking a bit more about these young advisors that Julia Gillard is trying to hang on to, aren’t we? it’s a, I think it’s a vicarious claim Jon
and I fully support…
FAINE: I can tell you the range we’re paid in, we’re paid like academics at universities.
ROSKAM: Does that include Kerry O’Brien?
FAINE: I have no idea what Kerry O’Brien’s paid. I know what I’m paid and I know what some of the other people who work and salaries around here are paid.
WARHAFT: And that sounds about right.
FAINE: I don’t know what my other colleague presenters are paid.
WARHAFT: That sounds about right to me.
FAINE: Yeah. Anyway. which is a fraction of what people get to the commercial talkback. So the re you go. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. 14 minutes to Eleven.
WARHAFT: Although your hours are more (inaudible) than your average academic.
ROSKAM: You are paid for by taxpayers.
FAINE: Go away.
WARHAFT: So are academics.
ROSKAM: Precisely.
FAINE: The conversation coming up shortly. That was Sally Warhaft and John Roskamn. John is from the IPA. Sally does work with the Wheeler Centre and they’ve been doing the Friday Wrap.


Footnote:
For the IPA’s broken promise to disclose donors in 2004, Howard’s blueprint for Abbott to stifle dissent

Read More:

IPA Archive

The shadowy world of IPA finances

My people’s petition for Abbott to reveal his other IPA policies

In Federal Election, Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party, Tom Cummings on April 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Petition   Tony Abbott  Leader of the Opposition  Clarify which of the IPA s 75 policies the Coalition plans to implement.   Change.org

By Tom Cummings (@cyenne40)
April 15, 2013

The Australian Labor Party is often accused of being at the beck and call of the unions. Of course there is a decent element of truth in this, in so far as they both tend to focus on workers rather than corporations, and the historical links between Australia’s unions and the ALP are many. However, in recent years those links have weakened (although never broken) and the dynamic of today is different than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

But what about the Liberal Party? What of their affiliations, their preferences? They have always come across as friends of industry and big business rather than the workers; their focus on ‘getting what you pay for’ is well in keeping with their conservative ideology and reputation.

The difference between the ALP and the Liberal Party in this respect is that, while the former is vilified for their union associations, the latter is largely forgiven for their industry bias. This may well be because the corporations they support are largely responsible for helping to shape and drive the public perception of such things, although that is a situation that is rapidly changing as non-traditional news outlets gain popularity and credibility.

But the Liberal Party of today has stronger, more visible links to the conservative side of town through its leader. Tony Abbott makes no secret of his relationships and associations with certain individuals within the Catholic church, the media and big business; and his fondness for sound-bites ahead of policy has left a vacuum that his friends seem only too happy to fill.

Nowhere was this more obvious than at the recent 70th anniversary dinner of the Institute of Public Affairs. The IPA is not well known to the majority of the public, yet this ‘independent libertarian think tank’ had News Ltd boss and IPA member Rupert Murdoch as their guest of honour. Right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt was the MC. Cardinal George Pell and mining magnate Gina Rinehart were in attendance. And Tony Abbott himself gave the speech welcoming Murdoch to the occasion (Murdoch’s ‘class war’ speech is published here).

One of the most frightening things about that night is that Abbott joked about a list of 75 policies that the IPA had published and encouraged him and his party to adopt. He listed which policies his Coalition had already taken on board: abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax, privatising Medibank and slashing the public service were just a few.

“So, ladies and gentlemen, that is a big ‘yes’ to many of the 75 specific policies you urged upon me in that particular issue of the magazine….but Gough Whitlam I will never be!”

 – Tony Abbott

The question here is this: where will Tony Abbott stop? How many more of the IPA’s radical policy suggestions entitled ‘Be like Gough’ will he adopt as party policy, before or after the election? We all saw last week what happens when Abbott tries to be creative with policy; the alternative NBN announcement with Malcolm Turnbull was an unmitigated disaster. How likely then that he will resist any further policy announcements for as long as possible, only to cherry-pick from the list the IPA has so kindly put together for him?

Because that list, and the 25 additional policies that the IPA subsequently released to make it an even 100, make for truly terrifying reading. It is a libertarian vision for the future, one without safety nets, one without protections, and one without regard for the individual.

That’s why I started a petition, calling on Tony Abbott to clarify which of the IPA’s 75 policies the Coalition plans to implement. Of course I have no illusions that this petition will ever reach Abbott, or that even if it did, that it would make an iota of difference to his actions. A friend of mine called it their “favourite useless waste of time” petition, and I can honestly see why!

But some people are reading it.  Some people are seeing the list of 75 IPA policies, are seeing that Tony Abbott is already committed to implementing a number of these policies, and are concerned. Already the petition has attracted more than a thousand signatures… far more than I thought it ever would.

Because the common wisdom is that Tony Abbott will be prime minister before the end of the year. We need to think about that, and scrutinise what it will mean. It’s not good enough for him to hold all his cards close to his chest and promise that life will be better under his government. We deserve better than that; we deserve to be told.


Sign the petition now:

ABBOTT says yes to 10 of the IPA’s 75 radical ideas, so far

In Federal Election, Freedom of Speech, Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party on April 8, 2013 at 12:24 AM

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Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia

IPA REVIEW ARTICLE

by John RoskamChris Berg and James Paterson

If Tony Abbott wants to leave a lasting impact – and secure his place in history – he needs to take his inspiration from Australia’s most left-wing prime minister.

No prime minister changed Australia more than Gough Whitlam. The key is that he did it in less than three years. In a flurry of frantic activity, Whitlam established universal healthcare, effectively nationalised higher education with free tuition, and massively increased public sector salaries. He more than doubled the size of cabinet from 12 ministers to 27.

He enacted an ambitious cultural agenda that continues to shape Australia to this day. In just three years, Australia was given a new national anthem, ditched the British honours system, and abolished the death penalty and national service. He was the first Australian prime minister to visit communist China and he granted independence to Papua New Guinea. Whitlam also passed the Racial Discrimination Act. He introduced no-fault divorce.

Perhaps his most lasting legacy has been the increase in the size of government he bequeathed to Australia. When Whitlam took office in 1972, government spending as a percentage of GDP was just 19 per cent. When he left office it had soared to almost 24 per cent.

Virtually none of Whitlam’s signature reforms were repealed by the Fraser government. The size of the federal government never fell back to what it was before Whitlam. Medicare remains. The Racial Discrimination Act – rightly described by the Liberal Senator Ivor Greenwood in 1975 as ‘repugnant to the rule of law and to freedom of speech’ – remains.

It wasn’t as if this was because they were uncontroversial. The Liberal opposition bitterly fought many of Whitlam’s proposals. And it wasn’t as if the Fraser government lacked a mandate or a majority to repeal them. After the 1975 election, in which he earned a 7.4 per cent two-party preferred swing, Fraser held 91 seats out of 127 in the House of Representatives and a Senate majority.

When Mark Steyn visited Australia recently he described political culture as a pendulum. Left-wing governments swing the pendulum to the left. Right of centre governments swing the pendulum to the right. But left-wing governments do so with greater force. The pendulum always pushes further left.

And the public’s bias towards the status quo has a habit of making even the most radical policy (like Medicare, or restrictions on freedom of speech) seem normal over time. Despite the many obvious problems of socialised health care, no government now would challenge the foundations of Medicare as the Coalition did before it was implemented.

Every single opinion poll says that Tony Abbott will be Australia’s next prime minister. He might not even have to wait until the current term of parliament expires in late 2013. The Gillard government threatens to collapse at any moment. Abbott could well be in the Lodge before Christmas this year.

Abbott could also have a Fraser-esque majority after the next election. Even if he doesn’t control the Senate, the new prime minister is likely to have an intimidating mandate from the Australian people. The conditions will suit a reformer: although Australia’s economy has proven remarkably resilient, global events demonstrate how fragile it is. The global financial crisis, far from proving to be a crisis of capitalism, has instead demonstrated the limits of the state. Europe’s bloated and debt-ridden governments provide ample evidence of the dangers of big government.

Australia’s ageing population means the generous welfare safety net provided to current generations will be simply unsustainable in the future. As the Intergenerational Report produced by the federal Treasury shows, there were 7.5 workers in the economy for every non-worker aged over 65 in 1970. In 2010 that figure was 5. In 2050 it will be 2.7. Government spending that might have made sense in 1970 would cripple the economy in 2050. Change is inevitable. Read the rest of this entry »

IPA and Murdoch are freedom’s discerning friends: Abbott

In Federal Election, Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party on April 7, 2013 at 9:37 PM
IPA 70th Anniversary dinner attended by Murdoch, Rinehart, Pell, Abbott, Bolt,

IPA 70th Anniversary dinner attended by Murdoch, Rinehart, Pell, Abbott, Bolt,

By Tony Abbott
April 4. 2013
Source: tonyabbott.com.au

Andrew, thank you so much for that truly lovely introduction. All I can say is: I prefer your judgments to your reminiscences!

Mr Premier, Mr Lord Mayor, Your Eminence, parliamentary colleagues, I don’t want to single anyone out because there are so many of them here but I should particularly mention the Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis who did such magnificent work in opposing the current government’s attacks on free speech, family members of the founder of the IPA, CD Kemp, Gina Rinehart, who has given what I’m sure is the best speech that any one will give tonight, ladies and gentlemen.
At one level, tonight we celebrate the 70th birthday of the Institute of Public Affairs; but at a deeper level we celebrate things that are timeless – the freedom that our civilisation has nurtured and the faith that has nurtured our civilisation. In celebrating the IPA, we celebrate its calling which is to support and sustain the public culture which has shaped our country and influenced so well the wider world.

In the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve could do almost as they pleased but freedom turned out to have its limits and its abuses, as this foundational story makes only too clear. Yet without freedom we can hardly be human; hardly be worthy of creation in the image of God. From the Garden of Eden, to the Exodus, Athenian democracy, the Roman Senate, Magna Carta, the glorious revolution and American independence, the story of our civilisation has been the story of freedom and our struggles to achieve it.

Freedom, ladies and gentlemen, is what we yearn for but it can only exist within a framework of law so that every person’s freedom is consistent with the same freedom for everyone else. This is what the poet Tennyson meant when he described England as “a land of just and old renown, a land of settled government where freedom broadens slowly down from precedent to precedent”. At least in the English speaking tradition, liberalism and conservatism, love of freedom and respect for due process, have been easy allies.

The IPA, I want to say, has been freedom’s discerning friend. It has supported capitalism, but capitalism with a conscience. Not for the IPA, a single-minded dogmatism or opposition to all restraint; rather a sophisticated appreciation that freedom requires a social context and that much is expected from those to whom so much has been given. You’ve understood that freedom is both an end and a means; a good in itself, as well as necessary for full human flourishing.

I particularly congratulate the IPA and its marvelous director, John Roskam, for your work in defence of Western civilisation. Contemporary Australia has well and truly – and rightly – left behind the old cult of forgetfulness about our indigenous heritage. Alas, there is a new version of the great Australian silence – this time about the Western canon, the literature, the poetry, the music, the history and above all the faith without which our culture and our civilisation are unimaginable.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the foundation of our justice. “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” is the foundation of our mercy. Faith has weakened but not, I’m pleased to say, this high mindedness which faith helped to spawn and which the IPA now helps to protect and to promote.

I want to say of the IPA that, unlike some other bodies dedicated to the promotion of an ideal, the IPA has never been too proud or too pure to campaign for its beliefs or to take sides in a good cause. Your campaign against the bill of rights caused a bad government to capitulate. You campaigned against the bill of rights because you understood that a democratic parliament, an incorruptible judiciary and a free press, rather than mere law itself, were the best guarantors of human rights. Read the rest of this entry »

Is the ‘liberal’ in the Liberal Party a case of false advertising?

In Ideology, Liberal Party, Noely Neate on March 2, 2013 at 5:32 PM

By Noely Neate
March 2nd, 2013

When I was young I would see something I thought was unfair, have a rant about it  (obviously have not changed over the years)  and my dad would mutter under his breathe ‘bloody bleeding heart liberal’.  As a youngster I never really knew what that meant, though I did get the gist that my dad thought I was being soft.

Reading about the highly anticipated or dreaded Costello report , depending on how you feel about the future of Queensland,  it was pretty clear that the Atate I love is about to be parcelled up and sold to the highest bidder.  In a nutshell Mr Costello is telling his liberal mate Mr Campbell Newman to Sell assets and outsource health services.

So where does that leave the people?

Kay Rollison has expressed my concerns very well in her recent article: Privatisation: Coming to Public Schools and Hospitals Near You.  She  infers that the LNP Queensland Government is setting the blueprint for what an Abbott Federal Government is planning to do to the country as a whole.  I have a terrible feeling she may be right, and again I ask, what about the people?  The people who can’t afford private schools, the people who can’t afford a private hospital, the people who are already struggling to pay their ever increasing electricity bill. Are we destined to a future of the rich being wealthier, healthier and educated, whilst the less affluent become poorer, die waiting for a hospital bed and more ignorant due to poor public education standards?

Is this what a so-called Liberal party should be doing? Let’s see how the party so proud of it ‘Liberal Party Values’ stacks up against the definition of the word ‘liberal’.

Being an old fashioned sort of girl, I hit the dictionary for the definition of liberal and you know what, the political party does not seem to fit the definition that the trusty old Oxford Dictionary shows me.  Let’s see…

willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own

I don’t think so. The demonisation of asylum seekers is not liberal by definition.  Recent comments by Morrison and Abetz display exactly how ‘accepting’ the Liberal Party is. Personally I would prefer to be warned that Morrison or Abetz was living next to me than an asylum seeker trying to start a new life with the family.  (their words and views)

open to new ideas

Gee that is a funny one. I’m pretty sure that the LGBT Australians are pretty sure there will be no gay marriage under the Liberals. In fact, dialling back Civil Unions was on the top of the LNP’s list when they rocked into power last year.

favourable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms

Well if Mr Abbott has his way, women definitely do not have reproductive rights or freedoms?  Now get back in that kitchen and make your husbands dinner, unless of course you work for or are related to Mr Abbott, because you are obviously one of the ‘good’ women…

(in a political context) favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform Read the rest of this entry »