On 21 January 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with then Sports Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie, announced a grant of $12 million to Tennis Australia to help girls ‘stretch their tennis skills’.
The subsidy, said Morrison, was because ‘some of Australia’s best successes in tennis are coming from our female players’ and this investment will ‘help use that momentum to inspire the stars of the future’.
It was also part of the Morrison Government’s gender equality agenda, as the media statement makes clear. Australian men’s tennis has performed far worse in recent years than women’s tennis, and is probably in more need of support – but that is by the by.
Morrison’s statement highlighted the success of Australian women in tennis by mentioning current players like Ash Barty, Daria Gavrilova, Kim Birrell, and Sam Stosur. According to Morrison, they were following the foundations built by greats like Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Alicia Molik, and Casey Dellacqua.
In addition to the Australian taxpayer subsidising an organisation involved in a highly professional multimillion-dollar sport, what is surprising is that the Prime Minister made no mention of Australia’s greatest tennis player, Margaret Court.
Court has won more grand slams than any other tennis player in history and is regarded by many as our greatest sportsperson ever.
Of course, the reason for Morrison’s omission of Court is that she is a Christian minister (a Pentecostalist like the Prime Minister) who opposed gay marriage. In that sentiment, she was not alone. At the 2017 non-compulsory postal ballot 50 per cent of Australians either did not support or failed to vote for this proposal.
It seems it is fine to have a free vote in the name of democracy, but unacceptable to oppose anything that the new ‘progressive’ religion of public opinion that has become the current orthodoxy.
We should not be surprised.
After all, during the pandemic the Morrison Government has hardly raised a murmur of public concern about the loss of freedoms across the country under oppressive state governments.
So, do not expect the Morrison Government to protect religious freedoms or stand fast on any principles that may be counter to the modernist ‘progressive’ culture that now pervades the Coalition parties.
It is little wonder that when Turnbull had clearly lost support in 2018, the ‘progressives’ in the Liberal Party quickly shifted their allegiance to Morrison to stop the conservative Dutton. They knew what they were getting. Morrison is one of their own – a pragmatist of the worst kind who believes in nothing except capitulation on every issue be it dealing with the states, climate change, fiscal responsibility, or personal freedoms.
Neither he nor his government are conservative in the sense of fighting to retain what matters while reforming what is necessary to maintain our society’s democratic vitality and economic prosperity.
Dr Scott Prasser was Senior Adviser to three federal cabinet ministers from 2013-19.
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