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Leading article Australia

Jumping ship

11 February 2017

9:00 AM

11 February 2017

9:00 AM

Talk of Cory Bernardi’s ‘betrayal’, or of him ‘ratting out’ on his colleagues, is disingenuous twaddle at best. As we have repeatedly emphasised over the last eighteen months, ‘loyalty’ was a key brand value that the Liberal party wilfully ditched in September 2015. As with any powerful brand value, it is earned with great effort over a long time, yet trashed in seconds at enormous cost. Team Turnbull complaining of ‘betrayal’ is about as convincing as McDonalds bemoaning childhood obesity.

The reality is that Senator Bernardi’s desertion of the party he has served so well for so many years is a symptom of the schism within conservative politics, not its cause. Sadly, there is not one political party that genuinely represents all the interests of mainstream Australia. The Liberal party comes close, but time and again has shown an unnerving contempt for the small, unpretentious, worthy aspirations of the modern family man and woman.

Away from the ideological cesspits of the inner-cities, most Australians want to be left alone by government to get on with earning a crust and keeping as much of it as possible for themselves and their kids. They wish to be secure from crime and terrorism, but free to speak openly about immigration and cultural values.

What they cannot abide is seeing those above and below them leeching off their efforts. Thus, they abhor the endless rorting of our welfare system at the lower end, and the snouts-in-the-trough entitlement mentality of the ‘insider’ class at the other. They can’t stomach the fact that the government spends unnecessary billions on submarine procurement just to keep one lacklustre minister in his seat, whilst ripping off the superannuation savings of genuinely hard-working, thrifty individuals. They shake their heads in disbelief at their electricity bills, knowing much of their money is wasted on futile climate change action.

They roll their eyes when three Liberal MPs decide to agitate again for gay marriage without a plebiscite – a betrayal. They are unimpressed when Simon Birmingham accuses Mr Bernardi of a ‘dog act’, and appalled at the vilification of him by the very MPs who so happily betrayed conservative Australians in the Abbott coup. It’s not so much a matter of a rat deserting a sinking ship, but more the other way around.

Defeat of the farm snatchers

Congratulations to Speccie columnist David Flint for his notes last week on the federal government’s plan to compulsorily acquire some 200,000 hectares of prime agricultural land in Queensland. ‘Seventy farms, carrying around 100,000 head of cattle, are to be wiped off the face of the earth. Jobs and businesses − trucking, abattoirs, banks etc − will disappear,’ lamented Flint. (‘Invasion of the farm snatchers’, TSA Feb 4). To add insult to injury, ‘While neither Marise Payne nor Christopher Pyne deigns to speak to the farmers, Minister Payne belatedly announced in a Rockhampton MP’s office that a KPMG “socioeconomic impact assessment”… is to be prepared and released.’ As Flint noted, ‘This is back-to-front government, so pre-Brexit and so pre-Trump.’ Indeed.

But not any more. The government has heeded the pleas of the farmers, of Pauline Hanson, and of the media outlets such as the Australian, 2GB and ourselves who were aghast at the entire affair. The good news is the Turnbull government has now abandoned the compulsory land acquistion. This joins the other good news this week: scrapping the MPs Gold Pass.

These victories join a list of other areas we have gladly championed where everyday, hard-working, often conservative Australians see their lives or values trampled by elitist, overly-bureaucratic governments, all too often Liberal in name. These have included the greyhound ban, forced council amalgamations, helping bring about some (but not enough) changes to Treasurer Morrison’s thieving super tax hike, scrapping the Gillard government’s carbon tax, agitating against MPs pension perks, combatting the renewables madness and disproving Mark Textor’s arrogant dismissal of the conservative base by reminding them that they did have plenty of other places to go (in the Senate, at least) at the last election. Over a million did just that. Last week we praised the Turnbull government for returning coal to the national agenda. This week they have heard the voices of the farmers. Perhaps someone is listening after all.

A listening government is a good thing. Many of these problems would not have arisen in the first place, however, if sound conservative principles were adhered to more passionately and consistently in the first place.

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