The Liberal Party of Victoria has been criticised in various quarters for being “Labor-lite”, for being silent on important issues, and for lacking a principled approach to policy. In other words, critics have only seen evidence that Matthew Guy’s Liberal opposition blows with the policy wind, whichever way the leftist elitists blow it. But of recent days, Guy has shown some spine.
The leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party hasn’t had to do much spadework to bring the Labor government down to earth. Current polling suggests Daniel Andrews and his buddies are on the nose, and Guy simply must avoid moronic stupidity to be the next Premier of the Education State. Easier said than done, of course.
But he has stepped things up by coming out at state council with some justifiably sharp criticism of the Safe Schools Program, promising to scrap it if elected in 2018. In an interview with the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton, Guy also made some rather conservative-sounding remarks about the state government not being the primary educator of children. Instead, and contra Andrews and company, Guy believes that parents are. That this even needs to be said is incredible, but at least Guy has done so. Good on him.
Home-schoolers, who have been mentioned on these pages as being under pressure from the current state government, will also be encouraged by Guy’s stated concern about the impending home-schooling regulations. He is absolutely correct to note that the Andrews Government wants to get their fingers into every family’s pie, and these regulations are evidence of that. God forbid that people should directly educate their own kids!
Thankfully, Guy sees that this way of thinking is unhealthy. As he says in his interview with Shelton, ‘This state government wants to control the raising of everyone’s children.’ Strong words from an opposition leader who has up until now been relatively quiet on these issues. On the home-schooling regulations, he states that the opposition will ‘look to’ oppose them. Bravo.
Who knows what has caused this sudden outburst of sense and courage from Matthew Guy? Hopefully, it was his principles, his constituents, his party room, and his heart. Maybe the Trump Train has come to Spring Street as well. Malcolm Turnbull has been giving a pretty good impersonation of a Trumpian nationalist on citizenship issues in recent days. He’s putting Australia first, as it were. And maybe Matthew Guy has also caught the winds of populism (whatever that is) and turned to some more principled policy positions.
Long may it continue. I am no fan of Donald Trump. But I am happy if the anti-elitist, anti-leftist turn in western politics results in some more principled policies from the non-Labor parties in this nation. And I am happy to wish Matthew Guy well if he keeps it up. But only if.
J.P. Tulkinghorn is the pseudonym of a public policy researcher and freelance writer.
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