Where is the opposition?
Where is the opposition? Where is the alternative?
To have a true democracy people need candidates and political parties of opposing views. Preferably of diametrically opposite opinions, values and policy platforms.
We use to have that in this country when times were simpler, The Liberals were for corporates, business and individual enterprise, The Labour party were for the worker, Trade Unions and State-run institutions. That all changed when the greens appeared on the scene and has evolved ever since. Today the major parties are close to unrecognisable from each other as they rely on polling companies and focus groups to tell them what to say, what to think and what policies to have.
The days of intellectual giants developing in-depth policy to take to the electorate as an alternative to their political opponents are well and truly over.
This hasn’t been highlighted more than in the past eighteen months throughout this covid-19 crisis. There is no alternative policy platform notably distinguishable between the LNP and the ALP and even to some degree the Greens. They all, to slightly different degrees, have the same perspective about supporting and implementing lockdowns, enforcing restrictions and border closures, they are all maniacally are pushing the vaccine rollout, while they all have relished in demonising alternative medical protocols like Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, they all support the wearing of masks and the removal of human rights and liberties to enforce their treasured draconian measures on the Australian populace.
LNP governments in News South Wales and South Australia have demonstrated that they will shut down a city, a region, and a whole state, while locking down millions of their citizens with as much enthusiasm and relish as their ALP counterparts in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. All of them are cheered on by their Liberal Prime Minister and leader of the farcical national cabinet.
They even are in lockstep agreement on the nefarious concept of vaccine passports and mandatory vaccines.
It doesn’t end there as well, The federal LNP have always portrayed themselves as better fiscal and more competent managers of the economy and proponents of smaller government. The sad reality though is that since toppling Tony Abbot and Joe Hockey any concept of fiscal restraint was jettisoned in favour of what can only be described as a drunken sailor spending attitude. From the time Malcolm Turnbull took over as Prime Minister, government debt across the country has skyrocketed to the point unimaginable under any government and where many people think that the ALP couldn’t do any worse. Even the most blinkered LNP supporter would have a significantly difficult time in making a legitimate argument to that effect.
Climate policy is another point of contention where no real contrarian position exists. Both the LNP and ALP are in a race to the bottom to out-green the Greens. Both endorse enormous subsidies to the renewables industry that are destined to make us uncompetitive internationally in a host of industries vital to our economic well-being. In doing so, they have increased our taxation burden to cover those subsidies while making the cost of living for those who can least afford it, that much more expensive.
The hypocrisy in this area is highlighted by both major parties not opposing coal exports to other countries while doing everything in their power to tear down the coal power industry here in Australia.
In doing so, they are giving our international competitors the cheap energy grid advantage that we should be enjoying and yet at the same time achieving nothing significant about improving the environment or climate outside woke window dressing policy.
The political and media elite as well as some of our more woke corporates are now waiting with bated breath for when the Prime Minister will finally make the jump and endorse a net-zero emissions target for 2050 or even earlier. This is despite the recent speedbump for the Prime Minister with the elevation of Barnaby Joyce to the leadership of the Nationals.
One of the key past differences between the LNP and ALP had been the LNP’s embrace of the rights of the individual, from things such as free speech, through to freedom of movement and what is prominent in all of our minds at the moment, the power of the individual to make their own health choices from intimidation or coercion. Never mind their supposed support of individual enterprise and innovation to develop a small business.
They have jettisoned those values almost completely in the past two years, with the only argument they have remaining is that the ALP would be worse. That’s like saying you’re MasterChef cook because your four-year-old toddler couldn’t do any better
Look at Victoria as an example, Michael O’Brien is the leader of the Liberal opposition, yet many Victorians wouldn’t recognise him if they passed him in the street. Admittedly that has been difficult these past eighteen months as we have had to contend with house arrest much of the time. Nevertheless, he has been given continued political gifts for two years now, if he had only just wanted to embrace them. Yet he hasn’t exacted a price on the Daniel Andrews government.
O’Brien could have developed a policy platform that opposed lockdowns, embraced peoples freedoms, supported business, speaking out against abusive police behaviour, made announcements about enquiries into our health bureaucracies and their decisions, while committing to exploring alternative protocols such as Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine.
He could have made commitments to clean out the bloated bureaucracies whose employees have continued to enjoy and grow their fat cat status with the nose in the revenue streams of the taxes of those struggling the most.
He could have made an argument on all these fronts to bring the people with him and he would have had some strong examples from other countries to support those arguments. A great conservative leader in Ron Desantis in Florida or Greg Abbott in Texas who have had their states in the US back to living a nearly normal existence with a commitment to never locking down again.
He could have pointed towards former Eastern Bloc countries such as Poland and Hungary who have thrown off the cloak of their communist past and instead embraced freedoms such as draconian lockdowns, he could have pointed to the socialist state of Sweden who ignored western society’s infatuations with lockdowns and pursued a herd immunity policy instead and have enjoyed an open society for these past two years and now have had eleven days of zero covid cases without the continued self-inflicted destruction we are now inflicting upon ourselves.
If a true Classic Liberal leader had embraced these concepts and more he could have attacked Andrews on the loss of liberties and freedoms, embraced people rights to make their own health choices, such as wearing a mask or taking a vaccine and been a saviour for small business owners and freedom-loving patriots to flock to.
If he threw away his fears and embraced a platform like this, he would give the Victorian electorate what they don’t currently have, a choice!
Instead, he has chosen to adopt a small target policy with as small a difference to the Andrews government as possible, to avoid rocking the boat and being set upon by the media. Instead of being courageous and fighting for true traditional liberal values, he has instead decided to mimic the Andrews government as much as possible and only differentiating in some small key areas. In the end, he hopes that Andrews will make such a mess of things he will be handed government as opposed to winning it.
Love him or hate him, Andrews to consummate a politician to do that. His shrewdness and cunning will overwhelm O’Brien who I believe to be a fundamentally decent person which is also a flaw in a political leader.
Instead of taking on and challenging the Andrews government, he has spent his time bunkered down while his PR staff have been blocking and cancelling people who are critical of him which bizarrely are the very people who would vote for him if he ever decided to lead with some bravado and conviction.
O’Brien sadly is a political coward as opposed to being the political giant we desperately need and equally as sadly there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate alternative within the Liberal ranks. What would have happened had O’Brien joined protesters last weekend as the Liberal Democrats David Limbrick has, or even like their most recent recruit John Ruddick did this past weekend.
He would have copped a media backlash but it would have lifted his profile and provided a contest of ideas. Instead, he sat silently in the background as his political and Liberal colleagues engaged in shameful demonising of people with issues enough to risk police intimidation, fines and arrest. Never mind that these are the sort of people who he will need to win over if he ever hopes to win government.
This is not an exclusive problem to the Liberal party though, the federal ALP is no better with a dead man walking in Anthony Albanese at the helm. He cannot even put a dent in the preferred Prime Minister stakes against Scott Morrison, a Liberal Prime Minister increasingly despised by his own base.
At the same time, his party do their best to become more Marxist and divisive than even Adam Bandt and the Greens. If he would only take the party back to its political roots of the seventies and eighties he may have a chance, instead, there is talk the ALP could revert back to the political lightweight that is Bill Shorten. I hope Scott Morrison never buys a tatts ticket of any sort as he has used up all his luck with the way the political fortunes have fallen in his favour with the opposition leaders he has been delivered.
Some consider him a political Mastermind or genius, I and I am sure many others think he is the Steven Bradbury of Australian politics
Finally, there is the situation in West Australia, where now-former Liberal opposition leader, Zac Kirkup decided it was such a good idea to outdo the ALP policy platform that he made Mark McGowan’s ALP mob look a positively centre right capitalist embracing party of competence. The result was a liberal wipe-out where there is effectively no opposition party anymore and it will be some time before another one emerges unless something dramatic happens.
In any liberal democracy, politics should be a contest of ideas, policy, values and vision for society along with plans to build all of that for a better future and even more importantly how we can arrive there with as much unity as possible.
I believe the greatest casualty of the past two years and the past fifteen years more generally, has been the decline of two distinct political forces that could form a government. Instead, we have a contest between dumb and dumber, where there is no black and white distinction between opponents, rather a sharing of shades of grey. All of which leads to feelings of disillusionment, distrust and hopelessness within our nation.
That is a very dangerous place for any society to be and we are very close to reaching a point of no return.
All those amongst us cheering this on and also looking to cancel and even wipe out alternative voices and opinions should be very careful with what they wish for, as we will have a society existing in a bubble of uniformity that will only deliver darkness and despair.
We have only had a taste of what might be that future, and we are fortunate to have through our minor parties to still have the chance to step back from that cliff.
I hope that enough people can realise that we don’t have to vote for team red or team blue and that there are different shades of colour in the political contest. The hope for me is increasing that a party such as the Liberal Democrats can secure a balance of power at both the next state and federal elections. That hope is inspired by their classic liberal positions on the rights of individuals, small businesses and small government. That hope has been reinforced recently with the recruitment of former Liberal John Ruddick, a man of the highest classical liberal values and now with talk that former LNP Liberal Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, may also be joining the Liberal Democrat ranks.
It’s a sad reflection that people of this quality and integrity and other such as Craig Kelly and George Christensen have decided to leave the modern LNP ranks. I suspect more will be following their example in the ensuing months.
If the efforts of David Limbrick or Tim Quilty are anything to go by in Victoria, I look forward to future releases of their policy platform and announcements of more quality candidates, if nothing else to give, we the people, a legitimate choice of ideals, policies and values instead of a flip of the coin to decide between the lesser of two evils!