In this dull, dispiriting time we have to get our humour where we can find it, no matter in how unlikely a place it might reside. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised on two fronts the other day to find a delightful piece of humour, first because it was in the usually turgid pages of the Age and, secondly, because it was attributed to our normally lugubrious treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, who is not renowned for his side-slapping wit. It came at the end of a long piece on the alleged takeover of the Victorian Liberal party by the fundamentalist Christian right, which of course mesmerises the Age, for whom religious people should not be allowed to join political parties, unless they are Muslims. Young Josh defended his party by observing: ‘My experience of the Liberal party… is that people have joined because they share the values of the party. They believe in the power of the individual, freedom, personal responsibility.’
That should be an early entry for when the Melbourne Comedy Festival gets back on its feet, for the modern Liberal party is nothing like that at all. It used to believe in those virtues. But today it is more of a Jerry Seinfeld party, a party about nothing. I ask myself, does the party do anything to enhance the rights of the individual, to encourage us to do well or start a business? Not that I see. But I see a lot of government policy revolving around handouts and restricting any sign of initiative. What power do I have as an individual to stop the insane flooding of this country with so-called refugees and migrants who cannot speak English? None. What right does the individual worker have to bargain with his employer and break away from the straight jacket of the industrial relations system? None. What incentive do I have to start a business or invest when the tax system will punish me if I succeed and if the government has not strangled me with red tape in the meantime? None.
As for freedom, freedom to do what? At the present, there is no freedom to move or travel (except for big shots) and no willingness in the Liberal party to do anything about it. The party has presided over probably the most draconian restriction on freedom of speech in the form of the infamous Section 18C ever perpetuated. Its leaders make pious speeches against political correctness and do nothing about it. Personal responsibility? The Liberal party has spent the last six months urging people to lean on the government for handouts, irrespective of their need and urged them to forget about personal responsibility. Just listen to Question Time and ministers crowing about the billions of dollars they are spending. The real philosophy of the party is : take the dole, do nothing for it in return, take this extra Covid-19 bonus, get more from the government under JobKeeper than you ever earnt before; and if you are an employer, make a profit on it by letting the government pay most of your wages bill. As for your personal responsibility; forget it. Mr Frydenberg’s humour is so well suited to the times.
But now, let us give credit where it is due. The Morrison government is absolutely right in taking back the power over treaties and agreements with foreign countries that has been allowed to slip away over recent years. And not the least reason why it is right is that we have long argued in this column for this overdue change in federal government policy. The states have got away for long enough with usurping Commonwealth power by entering into what are clearly treaties. Upstart councils have also tried to elbow their way into federal policies, especially on refugees and so-called climate change. This a bad thing because it prevents Australia from speaking with one voice internationally and is a restriction on its sovereignty. So the announcement is a powerful move towards full sovereignty and maturity. But it highlights for me the other change we have called for and which has not yet been implemented. The federal government should put an instant stop to the nonsense of allowing and, it seems, encouraging so- called treaties with aboriginal groups which, with their voters’ rolls based solely on race, will be utterly destructive of the Australian nation. As you would imagine, Victoria is the prime offender and its plans for a ’treaty’ are well advanced. Foreign governments represented in Australia should be told that treaties are solely for the federal government and that any diplomat even talking about an aboriginal treaty with a state, let alone praising it, will be declared persona non grata. That should make the point.
But I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I saw the other day that Bob Brown and his ilk had announced yet another court challenge to forest logging in Tasmania (ho hum) so that they can destroy more jobs and stifle more investment. The poor pets have not had many successes in closing down industries lately, so you can sort of understand why they are scratching around out there on the forest floor looking for a few new targets. But this time they have leapt from Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘known unknowns’ to his ‘unknown unknowns’ in their never-ending search for endangered species. The case will claim that current logging is threatening lots of insects ‘that are not even known to science’! It reminded me of the equally bizarre allegation during the bushfires, repeated many times on the ABC, that ‘billions’ of species had been destroyed. It also reminded me of the promise at the last federal election that seems to have been well and truly forgotten, to put a stop to ‘greenmailing’ by those self-appointed environmental groups who use the federal court to obstruct mining and other projects, often for decades. Perhaps they’ve been too busy re-jigging JobKeeper.
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