Last Saturday evening I had a curious encounter. I was busy running around LibertyFest making sure everything ran smoothly when I popped out of the main conference room and found a woman flicking through an agenda left on our registration table. I asked the woman if she was part of the conference and she answered, no. She then explained that she recognised some of the people at the conference. After she finished flicking through the agenda, she began to walk away and then turned around and said, ‘My family’s voting, “Yes”!’
I found this strange for several reasons. First LibertyFest wasn’t a conference about same-sex marriage. We had one session on the issue that involved a debate between former LDP Senate candidate Gabriel Buckley and Queensland Australian Conservatives state director Rod McGarvie. The second reason I found her statement perplexing was that it seemed to summarise her entire political outlook: ‘I’m voting, “Yes”. I’m a good person’.
The agenda she looked at covered a wide range of issues ranging from energy policy to lessons from Marcus Aurelius. It included a diverse range of speakers including Mark Latham, Jacinta Price, Corrine Barraclough and Helen Dale, just to name a few. It’s disturbing that the only thing she could say was that her family was voting yes. Those few words to her were enough to announce her virtue.
It’s truly worrying how superficial political debates in this country have become. It’s no wonder we’ve ended up with a disastrous energy policy when people only care about seeming good rather than doing good. We now live in an age where symbolism trumps outcomes. It’s enough that policies seem good rather than being good. This is how we’ve ended up a with a renewable energy target that has driven up energy prices, created energy poverty and failed to make any impact on climate change.
We now have an entire industry that exists on renewable energy subsidies that are dependent on coal-fired power. Those receiving the subsidies don’t care that their energy can’t be stored allowing it to meet actual demand; or that their subsidies are paid by those who can least afford it. All that matters is seeming virtuous.
People who would happily see the state crush individual liberty on any number of other issues are superficially convinced that same-sex marriage is the greatest issue of our time. Those people who are happy to see the state control what others do with their bodies, who they can employ or what they can say or think, suddenly believe the state has no place in defining marriage.
Should people have the freedom to smoke? Or to say nasty things on the internet? To hire whomever they choose? Or to even to have a sugary drink? It seems unlikely that the virtuous left would support any of those things. And yet, they demand conservatives support the right of two blokes to get married. The hypocrisy of this position is astounding.
Political beliefs should be based on principle not on superficial virtue. When that woman announced across the room that her family was voting yes, she wasn’t concerned with the liberties of others. It was all about her and her need to virtue signal. Don’t vote ‘Yes’ to virtue signal, vote ‘Yes’ because you want people to be free.
Justin Campbell is General Manager of LibertyWorks.
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