Australian Notes

Australian notes

1 July 2017

9:00 AM

1 July 2017

9:00 AM

LINO takeover

Did that curious phone call really mean I was to be dragged before some Liberal inquisition to suffer the inevitable auto-da-fé? That it purported to be from an ‘anti-corruption consultant’ suggested it might be a practical joke, or , like those ‘tax office’ calls, yet another scam.

As for corruption, I’ve never been one of those MPs who say they’re retiring to ‘spend more time with their families, only to take up a suspiciously magnificently paid post with the usually foreign cronies they’d been dealing with. (Forbidden in comparable countries, Australian politicians do this all the time with impunity.)

Nor had I ever awarded multi-million dollar contracts to the clients of friendly lobbyist-powerbrokers without ever going to a tender. Nor had I approved the sale of strategic and heritage assets or precious prime agricultural land to communist government cronies, only to take a well-paid position with them later. Nor did I master the biggest branch stack ever known nor leak against and treacherously undermine the elected PM while pretending to be a loyal cabinet minister.

Yet the cash-strapped Liberal Party has engaged a professional anti-corruption consultant to investigate none other than moi. To check whether this was genuine, I asked the anti-corruption consultant to send me the relevant parts of the party constitution, which he did. Under these, I can be expelled for ‘unsatisfactory conduct’. So what is unsatisfactory conduct? That is imprecise and not at all clear – I suppose that this would include such sins as listening to Alan Jones, watching Andrew Bolt, writing for Rowan Dean or worse, observing the Oath of Allegiance rather than treacherously breaking it as so many Liberal politicians do. But it seems from the charge sheet that my alleged crime was something far worse. It was alleged that during the 2016 endless election, I had behaved abominably. My crime was exercising that freedom of political communication I foolishly thought all Australians enjoy. My heresy was that I had interviewed a candidate for the NSW seat of Mackellar, one Jim Ball. Not only did he not enjoy the sacred endorsement of the NSW Liberal Party, he had previously been a popular commentator on that notorious haven of common sense conservatism, 2GB and the Macquarie network. I made one final attempt to verify whether this charge was genuine. When I phoned Liberal HQ and explained that all I wanted to know was whether this was the joke it seemed to be, there was a long silence. They were to phone back ‘immediately’; I have so far heard nothing.

In the meantime, the bragging by Minister Pyne about the takeover of the Liberal Party by the LINOs – Liberals In Name Only – only reminded everyone how he performs in parliament. Instead of representing Menzies’ party with dignity as manager of opposition business in question time, he was just an embarrassing jack-in-the-box, constantly testing the patience of the speaker with a succession of spurious and tedious points of order.

When Tony Abbott led the Coalition to victory in 2013, Pyne was rewarded as education minister. His principal project was his attempt to insert free market university fees into the socialised command economy that is the university sector. Universities would have had an incentive to push up fees, paid initially by the government, to stratospheric levels. Had Pyne’s folly not been blocked, it would have ended in a bubble mirroring the GFC sub-prime crisis. Now he’s in charge of the defence equipment budget which the government shamelessly raids for electoral purposes.

Earlier, when Senator Cory Bernardi used a slippery-slope but truthful argument about same-sex marriage (polygamy, rather than bestiality might have been more appropriate), Pyne and Turnbull saw the chance to persuade Abbott to ease this true Liberal out of the Ministry.

Senator Bernardi is one of those rare politicians who proceeds from principle, in his case, sound Liberal principles. So when it came to the Turnbull government’s extraordinarily socialist and anti-Catholic ‘Gonski’ policy, only he and Senator Leyonhjelm emerged with any credit. Not content with throwing over $18 billion in borrowed money into so-called ‘needs-based’ education, the government borrowed yet another $5 billion to buy votes from the crossbench. Bernardi proposed money only be allocated for which funding already existed − I would have thought that to do anything else would be in breach of the Constitution. But apart from Leyonhjelm, the Senate rejected such honesty and propriety.

There are two serious problems with this Turnbull ‘Gonski’ policy. (Labor would be even more profligate.) First, throwing additional money with federal interference into education, a state matter, has only been a recipe for significantly declining standards. According to all international measures, our standards have been falling significantly below those not only of comparable countries but even of less-developed countries and even on one measure, Kazakhstan.

What is needed is a return to what Australia once enjoyed – traditional teaching methods in ordered classrooms with the influence of the Marxists removed. As for funding, parents are better judges; moving to a voucher system rather than bureaucratic formulae would be far more effective. The second problem with the Turnbull government’s policy is the failure not only to acknowledge the significant historical role of the Catholic sector, but the equal failure to treat their leaders with respect. It was Sir Robert Menzies who began to provide some justice to the Catholic community in relation to their schools. This had the consequence that increasing numbers of Catholics would become supporters, at times first through the Democratic Labor Party. As with self- funded retirees, farmers and others, the Turnbull government is determined to lose their support.

It is surely time for the bedwetters to wake up and return the real Liberal leader, Tony Abbott. And to keep the hard left LINOs honest, there’ll be the increasingly powerful blocs of Cory’s Conservatives and Pauline’s One Nation.

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