Understanding the scope of Malcolm Turnbull’s extraordinary miscalculation in claiming the Liberal party is ‘not conservative’, requires a brief trip down memory lane.
The year was 2013, and as this author was often swamped by rabid Leftists in his first year of University, the Aussie Conservative Blog’s ideological roots were taking hold.
Meanwhile, conservatives championed by Tony Abbott were on the march, who promised to end 6 years of open borders, deficits, and personal battles which had changed the Prime Ministership into a game of musical chairs. “Elect Tony Abbott, elect the Liberals, and we will put an end to removing Prime Ministers during their terms”, was a common mantra conservatives were often fed.
Then on September 7, 2013, Tony Abbott returned his conservative coalition to government in a landslide, winning 90 seats to 55 in the House of Representatives. And with this enormous majority, Abbott secured a huge mandate for his Prime Ministership in seeking to implement a conservative agenda.
However, just 2 years into the Abbott government, Malcolm Turnbull overthrew the man who led the coalition to their famous 2013 victory, in taking the job as Prime Minister for his own. Although Turnbull claimed at the time that if the coalition continued with Abbott as leader they would face certain defeat, it was Turnbull’s government that endured massive losses at the 2016 Federal Election, losing 14 seats to maintain a razor thin majority in the House of Representatives.
Conservative voters who once backed Tony Abbott in the 2013 Federal Election felt betrayed by 2016, as their leader was not allowed to finish a job which the Australian people overwhelmingly voted for. Consequently, millions of conservative voters fled for Right- wing minor parties, including One Nation, Liberal Democrats, Shooters Fishers and Farmers, Australian Liberty Alliance, Family First and Australian Christians among others.
Given the coalition is struggling to resonate with its conservative base, any moves to further alienate these voters is nothing short of an advertisement for minor Right- wing parties. Subsequently, just after Turnbull’s recent remarks, Pauline Hanson described One Nation to be Australia’s ‘largest conservative party’. Meanwhile, Cory Bernardi seized on the comments, arguing that Turnbull had confirmed why ‘regular Aussies’ should join the Australian Conservatives.
While Turnbull will bear the brunt of his gross misjudgment via likely defeat in next year’s Federal Election, his claim to be the political successor of Sir Robert Menzies’ Liberal tradition, is particularly distasteful.
“Menzies said: ‘We took the name Liberal because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary but believing in the individual, his right and his enterprise, and rejecting the socialist panacea,” Turnbull said.
“The sensible centre was the place to be. It remains the place to be.”
But if Turnbull wanted to consolidate a truly Liberal party in the ilk of John Stuart Mills: a party which favours non-interventionism in both the social and economic affairs of citizens (Libertarianism), how can one explain the rise in national debt throughout his leadership?
Or the Laborite, anti- business banking levy?
Or the record number of federal cabinet positions?
Additionally, how can Turnbull possibly compare himself to Sir Robert Menzies, as Menzies supported the controversial White Australia policy, whereas Turnbull allows bureaucratic institutions such as the AHRC, the ABC and Australia’s race commissioner to collect exorbitant taxpayer- funded revenues, for the job of shaming the very people who pay their wages?
Malcolm Turnbull is no conservative, nor is he a principled Liberal. Instead, the Prime Minister along with his faithful pawns in Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop, who once broke the heart of conservative Australians by ousting Tony Abbott, are futile centrists adaptable to any set of policies suited towards re-election.
Despite Turnbull’s absurdly inaccurate comparison to Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, Menzies was in fact critical of opportunistic, malleable politicians who describe themselves as ‘Liberal’.
“There are Liberals who believe in nothing but still believe in anything if they think it worth a few votes. The whole thing is tragic.”