Isn’t it a strange world? In Shakespeare’s terms ‘there are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’. (For those Australians under 35 who’ve suffered through a school system that has left them knowing next to no grammar and who haven’t had to read many great books in school, the quote is from Hamlet. Its author was this guy who didn’t like paying his taxes. But I protest too much.)
That quote came to mind this past Friday evening. By way of background, I arrived in Australia in 2005 and was immediately impressed by the then prime minister John Howard. I soon brought a couple of my new university’s meetings to a halt when I interrupted the general sneering and snide com- ments to say how much I liked Howard. Back then no one would have accused me of being a Mark Latham man. But sixteen years (and a mountain of new debt, energy prices having gone from democratic world’s cheapest to up near its most expensive, far more bureaucratic and woke universities, an out-of-control deficit, an uber-woke public service, and more) later, I find myself agreeing with Mark Latham far more than I do with Scott ‘I don’t fight the culture wars’ Morrison. It’s not even close really. I feel like Ronald Reagan when he once said that ‘I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; it left me.’ Well, I didn’t leave the Liberal party here in Australia; its incarnations under Messrs Turnbull and Morrison left me.
But back to this past Friday night. Australia’s best legal organisation, the Samuel Griffith Society, which is committed to federalism and to honest, non-activist judging and which I urge all you readers to think about joining, was having its yearly conference in Sydney and our first night speaker was none other than Mark Latham. His speech was a tour de force, aimed squarely at the NSW Liberal party. Listeners didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as Mr Latham went through chapter and verse of the failings of the NSW Libs – and to be abundantly clear I mean the failings solely in terms of having caved in to wokeness, identity politics and the new religion of ‘diversity’ (which is just new clothes for the old affirmative action and quotas religion). Any conservative who listened to Latham would never again say that New South Wales has the best state government in the country. Heck, I suspect many would find it tough ever to vote for these virtue-signalling Libs In Name Only whatever the alternatives on offer.
Let me give you just some of Latham’s examples. But be warned, it’s better to read what follows on an empty stomach. Who out there knew that NSW has the fastest falling school academic results in the world? They do. You know, things like basic maths, writing, reading, grammar. But at least, mocked Latham, ‘the NSW Cabinet is fully versed in the new LGBTIQAP alphabet’. (And I hope I got those letters correct and that my computer didn’t auto-correct or something.) Latham mentioned the many complaints his office received from parents about the Umina Beach Public School, for instance, and its running of ‘a gender fluidity class for its Year 2 students, telling seven-year-old boys they can be girls, and vice versa’. Well, we know how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would deal with that. But not in NSW. Latham pointed out that the reaction of the National party Education Minister (yep, National party???) was to defend the school and praise the implementing teachers. Sort of beggars belief doesn’t it?
Relatedly Latham pointed out that last year the Upper House Education Committee he chaired recommended to the Perrottet government that where gender issues have arisen for a child at any NSW government school, the parents must have an automatic right to be told what’s happening. Somehow making the audience laugh when most of us wanted to barf, Latham recounted how Premier Perrotet (the supposed conservative) ‘not only rejected this [recommendation], but said that the children themselves have a legal right to tell the school to keep their parents in the dark’. Can that possibly be true, I asked myself? I’d spend every dollar I had to keep my kids out of schools like that. And I’d stick pins in my eyes before I voted for a party like that.
There were plenty more examples of the same sort of ‘capture’ by the forces of stupidity and wokeness. Rainbow cake-cutting and flag-raising ceremonies. Training modules in reconciliation, critical race theory and degendered language. ‘Safe spaces’ for Department of Education aboriginal staff. (I actually think it’s the kids in the schools who need the safe spaces from the curriculum and some of the teachers.) Then there were the examples of Matt Kean’s turning of the NSW electricity grid upside down. (Blackouts, here you come, baby!) And Mark, using data supplied by the parliamentary library, pointed out that Minister Kean’s carbon abatement program will (on their generous presuppositions, I’d add) reduce global surface temperatures by 0.00055 degrees celsius. And wait for it – that temperature reduction of basically zero is over the next century. So it’s a 0.00055 degree reduction by the year 2122. This is empty virtue-signalling at gigantic cost. Or, as Latham claimed, it’s the new secular religion of Liberal and National parties.
I won’t go into some of his examples as regards Attorney-General Mark Speakman, including his disgraceful ‘positive consent’ laws for sex based on what can in the politest terms going only be described as being based on some of the most dubious data going. So the NSW Coalition are not just delivering wokery and green fanaticism. They are today’s Puritans – Cromwell’s latter-day Roundheads, to use a reference no one educated in NSW will remotely understand.
As I said, it was a truly splendid performance; a sort of Mark Steyn account of how the world is ending but yet the way it’s presented makes you laugh despite yourself.
Here’s the thing. It’s something I’ve been saying for a while now. Pauline Hanson is a nice, well-meaning woman. I think her policies are better than those of the Libs. But she’s not up to the job. If Mark Latham were to become leader of One Nation federally, and bring his Ron DeSantis-type bravery and willingness to speak truth to the forces of political correctness, Australia would be the better for it. I think the One Nation vote would shoot up to 12 or 15 per cent within months.
I think this would place the same sort of pressure on the Coalition that Nigel Farage’s Brexit party placed on a then very wayward Tory party in Britain, thereby driving the lefty cuckoos largely out of the nest. It’s the best way forward as far as I can see because things are hardly much better at the national level.
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