Flat White

Kooyong and Wentworth: the nowhere lands

22 May 2022

8:20 PM

22 May 2022

8:20 PM

There’s no doubt that Scott Morrison’s perceived arrogance, the small target strategy employed by the ALP, and the success of the Teal faux-independents in convincing voters the world was facing an ‘environmental apocalypse’ unless Australia adopted Net Zero by 2030, helps to explain why Anthony Albanese is the nation’s next Prime Minister.

Equally as important – especially when understanding why the Teals were successful in winning Blue Ribbon Liberal seats while many outer urban, regional, and country electorates stayed conservative – is that Australian society is now divided between what the British writer David Goodhart describes as the ‘somewheres’ and ‘anywheres’.

According to Goodhart, those who voted to leave Europe are ‘somewheres’, that is, voters living primarily in working-class urban and regional communities who identify with family, their local community, and a strong sense of British identity and values. 

Anywheres, on the other hand, are affluent, well-educated city dwellers with a cosmopolitan and global outlook. Such voters shun conservatism and see any who disagree as parochial, xenophobic, and backward-looking.

The division between somewheres and anywheres explains why electorates like Kooyong, once held by Sir Robert Menzies and Andrew Peacock and considered the jewel in the crown of Liberal seats, are now represented by a Teal whose campaign slogan began and ended with ‘Climate Action’.

Other once safe Liberal seats – including Melbourne’s Goldstein and Higgins, plus Sydney’s Wentworth and possibly North Sydney – have also fallen to Teal candidates, whose campaign strategy was to argue that Australians ‘must stop being selfish, parochial, and commit to stopping global warming’.

For the Teals and their often wealthy, privileged supporters – it is irrelevant that Australia only emits approximately 1.3 per cent of carbon emissions globally with some scientists querying the doomsday scenario. To the Teals, those who question anthropomorphic Climate Change are denounced as ignorant and reactionary.

Living an affluent and indulged lifestyle involving expensive designer clothes, overseas holidays, private schools, European cars, and high-end restaurants – the majority of those voting for the Teals don’t have to worry about the rising cost of gas and electricity or the strain on household budgets caused by the ever-increasing cost of living. 

Proven by the election result, the irony is that those in the Liberal Party who argue that the way to electoral victory is to ‘appeal to the anywheres voters’ by making the party of Menzies more politically correct and Woke have been proven wrong.

Even more ironic, it’s the more Woke members of the Liberal Party, like Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney, who have lost their seats. Proving the maxim, it’s useless for a conservative party to try and appease the Woke by copying their cultural-left agenda.

As to why Woke anywheres now dominate electorates like Kooyong and Wentworth, look no further than the education system. The expression ‘politics is downstream of culture’ makes the point it’s the broader culture that influences politics. And if politics is downstream of culture, then culture is downstream of education.

It shouldn’t surprise that the Teals chose to focus on Climate Change and the environment as key election issues. Since the late 60s and early 70s, the threat of a nuclear holocaust has been replaced by environmental alarmism with books like Limits to Growth and Silent Spring. They argued that unless drastic action was taken, the world was doomed and students would have no future.

Illustrated by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, which was circulated to schools 15 years ago warning about the ‘end of the world’ unless fossil fuels were banned and coal mines shut, young people have continued to be indoctrinated with global warming alarmism.

The national curriculum embraces sustainability and the environment as one of the three cross-curricula priorities in the national curriculum and teacher professional bodies like the Australian Education Union who endorse students going on various strikes to stop Climate Change.

Add to this the way radical feminists have dominated the school curriculum over the last 40 years, teaching students society is inherently sexist and most men are dangerous. It should not surprise why the Teal candidates were all women standing against men and why Scott Morrison was portrayed as a misogynist.

Education has also long jettisoned teaching clear thinking, logic-based arguments, and well-founded research. Student agency now rules where emotion has replaced critical thinking and any who fail to conform to cultural-left group think are ostracised and excluded.

The challenge faced by the Liberal Party is how to respond to its defeat and how to reposition itself to ensure electoral success in three years. Proven by the election results in once safe conservative seats, the answer is not to out-Woke the Woke.

Instead, the party of Menzies needs to reaffirm its core values and beliefs and adopt a policy platform based on small government, protecting families and small businesses, and ensuring inherent rights like freedom of religion are guaranteed. 

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a senior fellow at the ACU’s PM Glynn Institute and a conservative author and commentator.

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