Flat White

Families first

15 November 2020

7:00 AM

15 November 2020

7:00 AM

On March 17, 2016, the Coalition joined forces with the Greens to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act and abolish Senate group voting tickets.

GVTs allowed voters to simply put a 1 above-the-line and let their party of choice distribute their preferences. Using GVTs, minor parties came to arrangements with each other to combine their votes to get ahead of the Greens. The Coalition-Greens deal ended that. When these new laws were introduced into the Senate I vigorously opposed them. Former prime minister John Howard also warned that the Coalition’s deal with the Greens could backfire on them. The principal beneficiary of these changes will be the Australian Greens,” he said. He was right. The Greens won six senate seats at the 2019 election and will almost certainly repeat the result in 2022 giving them a total of 12 senators and the balance of power.

Liberals and Nationals can rail all they like about Adam Bandt and the Greens but they have only themselves to blame. They have become the Greens enablers. Below is a six-point plan to counter the insidious influence of the Greens and the disappointment of the major parties. 

Family Resilience, Family Economics, Family Technology 

Family Resilience. Family has agency. It can do things. Family provides meaning, belonging and security. Strong family relationships reduce depression and anxiety disorders, strengthen the immune system and speed recovery from surgery.  Family breakdown is costly. Mental illness costs the economy $180bn a year. More young men take their own lives than are killed in road accidents. There is also a strong link between the health of the family and crime. Boys raised in fatherless households are more likely to commit suicide, abuse drugs, commit rape, end up in a correctional facility, get divorced, and suffer from loneliness and addiction to alcohol, gambling, drugs and pornography.  

Family Economics. Power prices, house prices, water prices. Family budgets and family businesses are under siege. The unbearable cost of energy, regulation and taxation is sending family businesses to the wall. Families who rent or can’t afford solar panels are subsidising those who can. Billions of taxpayers’ dollars spent on childcare subsidies benefit childcare centre owners more than parents. Single-income families who provide childcare at home at no cost to taxpayers are disadvantaged compared with two-income families which have the benefit of two tax-free thresholds. In aged care, the aged care royal commission says the sector should be ripped up and started again.  

Family Technology. There is an indisputable link between mental health and social media. Violent computer games affect boys. Cyberbullying has turned deadly for girls. Sexting is rife. The internet has become the new wild west with power concentrated in the hands of tech giants who destroy competition and privacy and misuse the information they collect. Any suggestion these behemoths can reform themselves or be trusted to ‘act fairly is laughable. 

The world is changing so profoundly – in social attitudes, world economics, and especially technology that politicians, public sector bureaucrats and regulators are hopelessly ill-equipped to manage it. They are simply outdated and outgunned. There is only one institution which can combat the lawlessness of the digital jungle and its predators and that is the family. The family is the best place to learn who to trust and who not to trust; who to communicate with and who not to communicate with.  

Free to Speak, Free to Believe, Free to Work 

Free to Speak. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of opinion are the hallmarks of a free society. The Australian people own the language and have not delegated to politicians and bureaucrats the right to decide who should or should not be offended. When I was in parliament, I tried to amend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The Coalition blocked it.  

Free to Believe. There are some things a free people will not be dictated to or lectured about. One of them is their religion or their morals, particularly what they teach their children. They will certainly not allow themselves to be bullied into submission by being called bigots or homophobes. The debate over religious freedom is not about equality and tolerance, it is about discrimination against religious people. The left calls for tolerance but what they really want is for everyone to agree with and endorse – even celebrate, their view of the world. If you don’t, you are a bigot 

Free to Work. There has been a dignity and sanctity associated with work since ancient times. The Hebrew word for ‘work’ and ‘worship’ is the same – Avodah. Denying a person the right to work is like denying them to right to worship. ‘He who builds a factory, builds a temple’, said Calvin Coolidge. When people, young people in particular, are excluded from full participation in community and working life, the social costs are enormous – drug and alcohol abuse, crime, domestic violence, poor health, depression, frustration, boredom, bikie gang recruitment, civil disorder, teenage pregnancy, even suicide.  

The culture wars have always been important. The Greek-Roman wars saw Rome conquer Greece militarily, but the Greeks conquer the Romans philosophically. Rome controlled the territory, but the Greeks controlled the culture. Or as modernday management would say, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. In Australia today, the right controls the territory but the left controls the culture. Australia has social and economic problems that it wants to solve and social and economic goals it wants to achieve, however looking to politicians, bureaucrats and regulators to solve these problems and achieve these goals is not going to work. We need to put the family back at the centre of the conversation.  

Bob Day AO is a former Senator for South Australia who at the end of last month launched the Australian Family Party. The full launch speech can be viewed on the party website. 

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