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Abandon all principles ye who enter the Libs

Morrison’s ‘pragmatism’ is destroying conservatism

8 May 2021

9:00 AM

8 May 2021

9:00 AM

All you need to know about the total lack of principle, and of any commitment to conservatism, in Scott Morrison’s Liberal party can be found in the fact that this past weekend the man who played a central role in knifing Tony Abbott as PM (Senator James McGrath) handily defeated a real conservative (Senator Amanda Stoker) for the first Queensland Senate spot at the next election. So he’s in for sure. She drops to the number three slot (after the National’s Matt Canavan), which gives her a slight, fighting shot of staying in parliament if the LNP performs as well as it did in the last election in Queensland. But it won’t. (Take that prediction to the bank.) This is yet another reason why the Libs under Morrison are barely any better than under Turnbull, meaning they’re centre-left at best and more often just left. Morrison had a chance to endorse Stoker (the PM could have wrapped it up, had he wanted, as part of his ‘pro-woman’ push). Instead ScoMo ‘endorsed them both’, the cowardly, pusillanimous, foot-in-each-camp and ‘pragmatic’ thing to do. It was signature ScoMo. No principles. No convictions. And no discernible conservative bones in his invertebrate body. But hey, he’ll consider quotas for women because they’ll deliver lefty-lib women. Tough break, Mrs Stoker. You were doing a great job.

Now, surely, we can say it as it is. We need Pauline Hanson to step down so that Mark Latham can take over as national leader of One Nation. How many readers think as I do, that you have miles more in common with Latham’s views than Morrison’s (or just about any member of his Cabinet’s) on just about everything? And Latham will at least fight back. As all of us conservatives are being played for suckers, that would be a far better home for us. Or, all you readers in Queensland, you can be the sucker Morrison and co. think you are and tick the Senate box for the man who gave us Malcolm Turnbull.

Here’s item number two. Have you seen the draft revised national curriculum? It’s a joke. This country is already educationally underperforming, well, pretty much everywhere and this piece of PC garbage – which cuts or defers mental arithmetic, doing times tables, knowledge of ancient Rome and Greece, some of the great writers of the Western Canon, historical knowledge of the West, etc., etc., for all the usual woke ‘cultural diversity’ alternatives – is what is proposed to fix that? Minister for Education, Alan Tudge, is already backtracking on chunks of these proposed curriculum changes. Is he a moron? What did he think something called the ‘Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’ (ACARA) would advise? I work in an Australian university. I see these sort of education bureaucrats all the time. As a rule they lean left, so far left they drive in counter-clockwise circles. My prediction: Mr Tudge will over-rule some of the worst aspects of these changes, but out of cowardice he’ll accept some of them. And things will keep getting worse. Remember John O’Sullivan’s Law: ‘Any body that is not overtly politically Right, will over time become Left.’ Read the recommendations and decide if you think ACARA is there already.

By the way, this was the inevitable outcome of the idiotic decision by Canberra politicians over a decade ago to go for a national curriculum. Switzerland, Canada and the US leave school curricula to the states, provinces and cantons (and sometimes to government levels even closer to the parents than that). Going for one-size-fits-all across the whole country is the anti-federalist, ‘government almost always gets things right’ attitude of the big government lefty. This is Labor’s home and outlook. Conservatives and classical liberals (assuming there are any of either in the federal Liberal party) do not believe government tends to get things right almost always. We’re lucky if government gets it right half the time. In that world, one-size-fits-all centralism is a bad mistake. Federalism is valuable because it’s better to have six or eight school curricula (or ten in Canada or fifty in the US) because the truly woeful ones will be embarrassed by the better ones. There’ll be competition and that will drive improvement. The province of Alberta in Canada has one of the world’s best educational performances. Ontario not so much. Switzerland delegates these decisions down to a really local level and does even better because of it. The minute we opted to go down a one-size-fits-all Australian school curriculum path I predicted, in these pages, that over time we’d be equalising down, not up. That prediction follows from holding sceptical views about the abilities of governments and of the lefty bureaucracies advising them. Every depressing prediction I made is coming true. So remind me. Why is this federal Liberal party peopled by MPs in love with ‘one-size-fits-all’, centralisation on steroids, national curricula and national everything else? Could it be they haven’t got a clue about core, classical liberal views? Or that deep down they don’t hold those views? Or they can’t see the evidence right in front of them?

Last item of evidence this week. Not long after I got to Australia some decade and a half ago Julian Leeser was running a right-of-centre think tank. He put out a book on the problems – no, evils – of bills of rights to which I contributed a chapter. Mr Leeser back then was well aware of the problems with activist, ‘we know better than mere elected legislators’ top judges. Some time later Mr Leeser was pre-selected for one of this country’s safest Liberal seats. Since then we’ve learned he’s against repealing our despicable s.18C hate speech laws. And now we learn that he’s in favour of the latest identity politics wheeze, the so-called Voice that will give Aborigines (no one knows how they’ll be identified) an extra say in government that no one else gets. I’m opposed to this on democratic principle. It simply separates people based on their group identity – we can play Jesuitical games and debate whether it’s race-based or not, but no one can deny it’s based on the happenstance of one’s birth – and then gives one group an extra say over the rest of us. But on top of that, this proposal will provide fuel to our activist top judges, the ones who last year made up out of thin air some extra privilege or right for non-citizen Aboriginals. They based their decision on ‘otherness’, I kid you not. It might be the most pathetic, implausible constitutional law decision from any country I’ve ever read. And it is this same group of activist top judges to whom Mr Leeser wants to give yet more tools to remake our Constitution in their own vision. The pre-parliamentarian Leeser knew this was true. The ‘now I’m an MP’ Leeser no longer seems to do so. He’s jumped on board the ‘we can trust the judges not to abuse this new tool’ express. Why? Damascene conversion? Or Morrison pragmatism?

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