CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Decline of the Victorian Liberals, and the Death of Victoria

Dec 6, 2018

Any democracy worth defending depends on real political options and genuine opposition parties. When there is no viable opposition, or one that is too weak, or merely a pale imitation of the other party, then democracy will not last long.

The Australian state of Victoria is an obvious case in point. For decades now the supposed conservative party, the Liberals, have not exactly been the epitome of conservative principles. Yes, there were always some solid conservatives in the ranks, but basically most of the recent Liberal leaders have been a massive disappointment for all true conservatives.

Just look at this list of recent Liberal Premiers and opposition leaders:
Jeff Kennett
Robert Doyle
Ted Baillieu
Denis Napthine
Matthew Guy

Do any of those names stand out as conservative stalwarts? I recall battling Kennett in the 90s as he pushed various leftist causes, including special rights for homosexuals. Many of the other leaders are all nondescript. Does anyone remember anything about them, or what they believed in or stood for?

We have had lacklustre leadership for years now, with very little conservative headway. And when Liberal governments were in power, almost nothing happened to roll back the culture of death and the war on marriage and family. Again, we had notable exceptions, but these champs tended to be in the minority and on the back benches.

Yes, we can talk about economic management which is certainly important and is where the Libs tend to shine. Briefly but quite accurately, the scenario at both federal and state levels goes like this: Labor gets in, spends like mad, and racks up massive debts.

The Libs get in and set to work to fix all this. And they usually do a good job of it. Good economic policy and some necessary austerity results in balanced budgets, and even budget surpluses. But then Labor gets back in and blows the wad. All this just keeps going on and on in cyclical fashion.

But back to Victoria. On November 24 we had the state election, bringing in the 59th Victorian Parliament. It was a wipeout for the Liberals. I wrote about this debacle here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/11/24/four-more-years-of-hard-left-rule-why-do-the-wicked-prosper/

And here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/11/25/more-on-the-victorian-election-disaster/

That election saw the Liberals reduced to a rump, with some of its better (that is, most conservative) members losing their seats, including folks like Robert Clark (who is definitely out) and Inga Peulich (who looks like she is out – we will know soon).

Few real conservatives remain, and most of the Libs who are left just look to be Labor-lite politicians. And once again the leadership issue emerges. Matthew Guy of course quickly stood down. The two main contenders for the top job were John Pesutto and Michael O’Brien.

Any hope there? Watching the evening news for two days in a row fully confirmed that there is no good news here. John Pesutto was certainly a leading contender to take over the Libs’ leadership, but as it turns out, he lost his seat in the election.

He was on the news last night and what he said was a real worry. He talked about how the Libs need to get on the climate change bandwagon, and said all rather proudly that his daughter was in the recent school kids’ climate protest. Oh good grief – I think I am glad he lost his seat.

But it got even worse tonight as I watched the news. The new leader of the Victorian Liberal Party is now Michael O’Brien. He actually said that the party must move to the centre! He said this: “We need to be back in the centre field of politics. That’s where we need to be. That’s where Victorians are and that’s where the Liberal Party is going to be.”

Um, in Victoria that of course means a move to the left. Great – just great. Just what we need – a left-leaning Liberal Party. Or should I say, an even more left-leaning party, mimicking Labor, and maybe even the Greens. So what exactly will the “new” Libs look like then? What policies will they be promoting?

Will they push all things homosexual and transgender? All things pro-death? Climate change baloney? Injecting rooms? Safe schools? Good grief. Except for Bernie Finn, and a few others, the Libs appear to be a lost cause. Victoria is gone. It really is – certainly for years, if not decades, to come.

Where to from here?

There are at least two ways of looking at all this: the purely political, and the biblical/theological. If we have only the former to go on, then things look very bleak indeed – at least if you are a conservative. It seems that we are all but lost.

But of course anyone who follows politics and knows a bit about history realises that nothing lasts forever. Things change. So even if a political party languishes in the political wilderness for years or even decades, eventually it will re-emerge. Eventually it will get back into power.

However, if the Libs do get back into power one day in Victoria, two points remain. One, so much damage will have been done in the interim that it will be quite unlikely that any government – even a good, solid conservative one – will be able to fix things properly.

And two, just what is the point of welcoming a Liberal government back in if they end up following the alarming advice of O’Brien? If the Libs just offer a sickly version of Labor, then there is nothing to cheer about, and no real reason to get excited about a change of government.

Effectively having two Labor parties and a Greens party means the end of Victoria, and Australia. Speaking of which, we have a federal election coming up next May. If Shorten and Labor get in we really will be toast. Things will go from bad to worse, and it will be very hard to see the nation recover.

Many conservatives therefore will look to the micro parties, especially groups like the Australian Conservatives. They may well be the way ahead, but they were of no help in the Victorian election sadly. Case in point: Rachel Carling-Jenkins was elected to the upper house in 2014 with the DLP.

In 2017 she joined Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives. However he only has his sights of Federal Senate seats right now, so he offered her no support. So she ran in the lower house as an independent but was defeated. Thus we lost one of our greatest champions in Victorian politics. So the AC has a way to go yet before it can offer real help.

Much more can be said in terms of political realities, but let me conclude with some spiritual reflections. As I have said time and time again, politics is not everything and politics cannot save. Yes, politics is very important indeed, and Christians must take our political responsibilities seriously.

But at the end of the day the political malaise we find ourselves in is part of the larger spiritual malaise. As long as most Victorians and Australians turn their back on God and shake their fists at him, we will continue to go downhill. As always, repentance and renewal is the way forward.

God’s people first and foremost must get on their knees, repent of their many sins – including apathy and indifference to the things God cares so much about – and start being the salt and light we are called to be. Until the church gets its act together in a major way, the political scene will continue to spin out of control.

It will simply get worse and worse. And we will all suffer big time as a result. Lord have mercy.

[1285 words]

24 Responses to The Decline of the Victorian Liberals, and the Death of Victoria

  • Sadly too true Bill. While I maintain a keen interest in politics, I have shifted focus towards evangelism and the need for renewal in the church. Most of the Western church simply doesn’t believe the Bible. We shoot ourselves in the foot, and wonder why we can’t stand for truth against the world. Most of the Western church simply doesn’t believe Moses was telling the truth when he said that “in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything in them”, even though Moses says Yahweh wrote it with His own finger in stone. So if we don’t believe the Bible foundation of the Gospel, and effectively regard it as fairy stories, why should anyone else take us seriously?

  • “Until the church gets its act together in a major way, the political scene will continue to spin out of control.”
    Thanks Bill. And is the church getting its act together? At a local non-denominational Christmas Singing event open to the public last weekend, held inside a beautiful traditional-style church building, the newly appointed minister of the hosting church stepped up to give the traditional Welcome. I’m always interested to see how ministers manage to skillfully weave in a Gospel message into their precious few minutes of public Christmas opportunity. But instead all we got was a spiel on how the location of his Previous Appointment was way hotter than this [Okay, fair enough], but then the solution: “All we need to do is to plant a tree, so we can sit in its shade.” [I kid you not!]
    Afterwards I managed to sidle up to him, and engage him in conversation on evangelism, in context of the declining influence of the church. He said, “Yes, the church has lost its influence. The problem is that society has changed. So the the church also needs to change its message so as to be relevant to people today.”

  • To avidly pursue the headlong plunges of the madding crowd in a quest for votes and power looks more like demagogy than democracy: Where are the leaders who are not ashamed to become “a voice crying in the wilderness”?

    The Gadarene swine achieved “broad-based community consensus” because they were possessed by an army of unclean spirits. “Popular consensus” in that case led to the entire herd drowning themselves in the nearest available large body of water. So long as most Australians insist on “embracing their demons”, those of us who are “clothed and in our right minds” are bound to be in the minority, in an increasingly delusional populace where the latest “collective psycho-social projections” of the masses pass for the latest edition of an ever-evolving “reality”…

  • What hope is there when a true Christian conservative party like the Australian Conservatives can’t even be bothered to field candidates? Cory Bernardi has alienated a lot of voters with the way he abandoned Mrs. Carling-Jenkins.

    What choice do we have? ALA? I’m told they’re too extreme for many conservative voters. Particularly with the antics of that dude with a Muslim sounding surname Avi Yemeni. He alienated so many people when he went to war with Nigel Farage. I’m even on Avi’s side on Islam but the way he spoke to Mr. Farage was just obnoxiously rude. He’s a hero to most conservatives and I’m sure Avi’s antics cost ALA votes. Unfair but guilt by association happens.

  • Thanks Michael. Yes not everyone has been happy with the AC on this and other matters. I suppose they would say in their defense that they have very limited cash, personnel and resources, and so they are just going to concentrate on Federal Senate seats for now. But it is a real tragedy that we lost Rachel. Pray that she finds another role – whether political or otherwise – to keep having an influence.

  • Hi Bill,
    thanks for your good work (I must admit I have trouble keeping up with the pace of your output! Either I will need to start drinking energy drinks or you will have to cut down on yours!)
    Trigger warning: the “P” word is used below.

    I note the following in your text: “Yes, politics is very important indeed, and Christians must take our political responsibilities seriously”.
    Charles Chaput writes in “Strangers in a Strange Land”, anyone that calls themselves Christians, should be actively involved in politics. Amen (from me).

    So then, what should we who call ourselves Christians do? What are our Responsibilities?
    a) Make a protest vote for Cory?
    b) Donkey vote and go home?
    c) Shout from the roof we can’t trust politicians and spit chips?
    d) Go to Church and forget all about it?

    I would like to suggest the correct response differs from the above.
    Regardless of all the above, it will be either blue or red that govern our state and our country.
    This is where we need to apply our resources for the Short and Medium Term.
    My wife and I joined a political party and we; along with other Christians are working our way towards getting good people and good policies into government. It wont happen overnight but it can happen.
    Could that be our “political responsibility?”

    May I go so far as to suggest we can’t just sit around an continue the well worn dialogue “Ya can’t trust #$%& politicians” and so we default to having nothing to do with the political landscape.
    – This could be likened to unbelievers saying that the devil doesn’t exist; so, go home nothing to see here.

    Remember it is government’s that put AND keep evil laws in place – such as:
    – Abortion
    – Euthanasia
    – Gender ideologies, AND government is the logical place to start the Pushback.

    Perhaps I have taken too much of your space Bill, but I can’t leave without depositing the notion of a “Portfolio of Works”. Chaput also says “There is nothing deader than faith without works”. Nothing deader (didn’t know deader was a word – but it sounds pretty bad).
    I translate this to Pray and Do. And then Pray and Do…..and then Pray and Do some more…

    My challenge here is to go beyond, go that extra 1.6 kilometres beyond say just Church and tithes.

  • Hi Bill,
    Another spot-on article.
    Last night I saw an impressive young farming mother, Kirralie Smith, interviewed on Skynews .
    She has started a site supporting people like us who disagree with the gender fluidity and trans lunacy being pounded into our children.
    Among other things, she has been successfully home schooling her kids as she said they were being indoctrinated, not educated.
    Her site is binary.org.au and may be of interest to fellow CultureWatch members.
    Keep up the great work.
    Kind regards,
    Julian.

  • Many thanks Julian. Yes I saw that show last night and I do know her – she is a champ. And yes her new group is well worth knowing about and supporting:

    https://www.binary.org.au/

  • Yes Peter Killin, joining a political party may help. But joining blue or red (Liberal or Labor in Australia) has problems.

    Both blue and red want Christians to campaign hard on their behalf, safe in the knowledge that they can ignore Christian values in the party room or in government. After all, THEIR candidate was elected on THEIR blue/red party platform, not on conservative Christian policies.

    Rather, I prefer to support a smaller party with clear conservative Christian values. If they get elected, great; if not, my preferences flow to the next best until finally it can be used. So, hopefully, blue/red parties will find that their election win, or the balance of power, depends on conservative Christian preferences. That strengthens any blue/red Christians in government much more than campaigning directly for blue/red.

    But we live, allegedly, in a democracy. We get the government we deserve. Since most voters don’t care about righteousness, neither do politicians. Christians, starting with me, need revival, humbling ourselves and praying, confessing our sins of not believing the Bible and not preaching the Gospel etc. With revival, politics will take care of itself.

    So should we abandon politics? No way! We need to support Christian parties and values. We need to understand how to get best value from our votes. E.g. Voters should check out sites such as Australian Christian Values Institute at http://www.christianvalues.org.au to compare party values.

    We also need to lobby to correct the serious flaws in our electoral systems: e.g.:

    1. Reform the scandalous ‘vote-above-the-line’, and ‘below-the-line’ systems that favour big-parties and seem designed to trash votes for smaller parties;

    2. Insist that the various Electoral Commissions warn voters of the dangers of ‘partial’ preferential voting;

    3. Reform our voting systems that, especially in close elections, can elect a candidate even if there are reasonable grounds that the “winner” chosen via the system would be thrashed in a one-on-one election against a candidate “eliminated” by the electoral system. In Australia, we can prove that the system can do just that. Other systems in use worldwide (UK, USA, France etc.) are just as bad, if not worse.

    Problems 1. – 3. can be eliminated or greatly reduced by the electoral reforms outlined at https://tinyurl.com/ElectoralReformAustralia . The solution to 3., Average Preference Counting, can potentially reduce dramatic blue-red ideological swings on change in government, hence it could give more stable government with less ideological strife – whether in Australia, Europe, USA or Middle Eastern countries.

  • Hi Peter N.,
    May I kindly offer the following observations?

    Step 1. The only real verbs used above relate to you voting for a minor party.
    Step 2. The rest seems to relate to changing processes that would rely on Step 1. putting into power a party that will facilitate such big electoral changes.

    That sounds a lot like abandoning or outsourcing our politics to someone bigger than us.

    My suggestion is to change a party from within:
    1. Infiltrate
    2. Influence
    3. Impel.

    Pray and Do.

  • Dear Peter, I’ll believe it when I see the Liberal grassroots remove preselection from that notorious homosexual Tim Wilson.

    No true Christian can fight on the same side of that man.

  • Hey Bill, do you know much about the recent UN “global compact for migration”? If so, please do a post or two on it, Thanks, Paul

  • Thanks Paul. Yes I may write something on it soonish.

  • Peter Killin, I still maintain that voting for a minor party is more effective than trying to reform existing large secular parties.

    Infiltrate Influence, Impel is what the cultural Marxists have done very successfully in education, media and universities – ruthlessly with the ends justifying the means so that they now dominate public opinion and strongly influence politics. But it took them generations and they did it via education etc., rather than via politics. We can try to Infiltrate, Influence and Impel via politics, but it is likely to fail unless we FIRST transform society via revival in the church.

    It is the Western church that is sick as a whole. That’s where we need to Infiltrate, Influence and Impel with prayer and action so that the church stands up to be effective salt and light – a church that believes the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and teaches, defends and lives by God’s word.

    Sadly it is often the Bible Colleges and Pastors etc. who compromise with worldly ideas pushed via academia and it may take generations to correct that. That’s why I’m more interested in church revival than political action.

    Nevertheless I have a keen interest in politics and democracy and hence my promotion of Electoral Reform to fix the gross abuses in Australian and World electoral practices. However, adopting such reforms will simply make our elections more democratic, making it more likely that we get the governments we deserve – good or evil. The only moral content of the reforms proposed is to seek a ‘fair go for all’, rather than to promote more conservative values.

  • Dear Peter,

    I loved what you wrote and it proves that everything Bill Muehlenberg writes about is connected.

    The stuff about Bible Colleges and Pastors really hits home for me.

    What can and should we do about people like the high profile pastor over in New York running an offshoot of a famous Australian church who refused to condemn abortion when he was asked about it, and a Chinese revival pastor here in Sydney who evangelizes to Asian youths with contemporary “Christian” music and fairy lights! This second guy is wishy-washy on the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality and
    confuses young Christians by asking them to come to a fundraising dinner not in spite of but because an openly homosexual celebrity Masterchef contestant was providing the food. You mean to tell me after 10 seasons of Masterchef and 24 contestants each season there wasn’t single non-homosexual Masterchef that they could find to do the cooking? And then we have the hip senior clergyman from supposedly the most conservative Anglican diocese in Australia umming and ahing when asked by a biological man in a dress “Do you think I’m disordered?” before finally denying Jesus and the Bible and said no he wasn’t disordered.

    That’s just three examples. I worry when I think the future of the evangelical church in America and Australia is in the hands of these “cool hipster” false teachers.

  • Thanks, Bill, and you informative commentators!
    All the ideas look good to me. I think we need to go for the ones that stir life in our hearts and encourage each other in covering the rest.
    For me, two arenas: I’d like to see informal, non-partisan, local groups of Christians who then carry Christ back to their respective parties; and, sadly, we need to evangelise our churches.

  • Hi Michael T.
    Your observations about Mr T Wilson, federal member for Goldstein are most pertinent at this point.
    Many of us will recall he was the openly homosexual who proposed to his boyfriend in parliment.

    Here’s the cute bit; at preselection it came down to a two horse race between him and a conservative (Dennis). There was about 300-400 party members there to vote that night. What do you reckon, Wilson won preselection by a landslide? Maybe 100 votes? NO, he “won” by 1 (might have been 2) votes. Google it and check. ONE LOUSY VOTE! So, if you and I were there to participate in preselection the result = no homosexual MP. Thats what grass roots is – you and me – not someone else! You and me brother.
    Peter N. You seem to suggest that only the marxists can use a proven strategy. Respectfully, your strategy seems to be left to God and faceless people who will out of goodwill create a new election mechanism that will be fairer.
    I suspect we are the hands and feet of the Lord that need to Pray and Do.

  • Hear hear!
    Great article.
    My tongue was bleeding before the election in complete frustration.
    We are meant to be an opposition party!!! Not chasing the left for votes!

    I also loved reading the comments on this thread. I agree wholeheartedly with Peter Killin’s words. It is not easy because the party needs reforming and even power hungry fakes have infiltrated the reform movement so that makes it all even more exhausting.
    But… what’s the alternative?
    If we vacate, we leave it to the moderates and the left.

    Politics is a numbers game. It’s as simple as that. Your vote belongs to you but if you can get in the tent and influence you have a much stronger chance than from outside.

    I too am saddened by Rachel Carling- Jenkins. She is a top “chick” and one we need standing in Parliament to fight for our values.

    I’m hoping more people wake up and get in the fight soon. This is a mammoth spiritual war and Christians need to rise up, pick a side and fight. Even if it is only to let God know where you stand and what you are willing to sacrifice.
    Thanks for all your work, Bill!
    God bless you all x

  • Dear Peter K,

    No the really cute bit is the 149 people who voted for Mr Dennis then have to go and hand out how to vote cards and scrutinise the results on behalf of a rampant homosexual.

    That’s how major party politics works. That’s not a price I would ever be willing to pay.

    Pastor Bill has written a lot about co-belligerence with non-believers to achieve specific things. But joining a party is more than occasional co-belligerence, it’s being yoked with the other members of the party.

    Jesus could not have been clearer: “Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” [2 Corinthians 6:14]

    That’s why I think the Australian Conservatives are a better option if only they would run candidates! At least with AC the Christian ethos of the party effectively pre-vets candidates to remove the likes of Tim Wilson (homosexual) and Golam Haque (Bangladesh Muslim).

    My lament is that AC didn’t run candidates and Cory Bernardi has to carry the blame for the loss of Rachel Carling- Jenkins. But if all the effort and money Christians put into the Liberal Party, which let’s be honest didn’t yield 1 positive result, had been channeled into the Australian Conservatives they would have had the money and people to run in the State Election giving Bible-believing Christians a real choice.

    United, God’s Church will never be defeated. Divided, we were.

  • Thanks Michael. Those words of course come from Paul, not Jesus, but whether joining a political party is a case of what he warns against is certainly a moot point. Most folks rightly point to something like marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian as an obvious example of this. But being in a political party where you may rub shoulders with others a few hours a month may not exactly involve “being yoked with” them. Most believers would spend more committed time with non-Christians on a sporting team or in a book group, etc.

    And history is replete with examples of committed Christians working in and being politicians for political parties that are not Christian parties. One simply thinks of William Wilberforce as but one example. So God can use people mightily in such a way, and one need not be ‘contaminated’ in doing so. So each Christian must think and pray about what level of involvement they might have with whatever political party they feel they should become a part of.

  • Peter K,
    yes “we are the hands and feet of the Lord that need to Pray and Do.” But how do we best do that? Perhaps you misunderstand my strategy?

    My strategy to achieve conservative government is for revival within the church via a return to belief in God’s word from Genesis to Revelation. It’s a hearts and minds strategy. Change the culture and politics follows. That requires prayer and action to go and make disciples and to teach God’s word. Is that “abandoning or outsourcing our politics to someone bigger than us” (apologies for quoting you out of context), or simply obeying Jesus?

    Electoral reform is a side issue, not my strategy to win. Genuine reform is just as likely to favour a sex party as a Christian party. We get governments we deserve: and that depends on dominant cultural values.

    Infiltrate, Influence and Impel, is a proven successful strategy, even if ‘Impel’ is not Christian. That strategy captured the Labor (red) party, but it was thwarted by culture and Catholics keeping Labor out of power for a generation. It did not come to power until the generations-long march through the institutions succeeded in capturing the culture of unions, schools, universities, media, public service etc. Hence I see little end benefit in infiltrating the larger parties without first, and more importantly, seeking revival in the church.

    We can infiltrate a branch and promote a candidate with good conservative Christian values. But if they lose pre-selection by one vote, what do we do? Even if our candidate wins, why work hard to elect a party with a history and a platform that compromises and sidelines Christian values and even sidelines Christian MPs? If a party platform is not explicit in supporting conservative moral values, how then can voters understand what is at stake?

    Rather than scrabbling for scraps from a big-party table, we should support smaller conservative parties that spell out the issues – parties (watchmen) that give out a clear signal. Win or lose, we should stand publicly for righteousness, rather than hiding our light under a big-party table. But always the great commission must be our primary strategy. Anything else is bonus.

    That is, we should aim for revival of church and nation. Sadly we need to start with the church and Bible colleges: many of which, perhaps most, have compromised and accepted un-Biblical beliefs. E.g. it is now common in debate for our opponents to successfully and correctly argue that since a Christian (often a high profile Christian apologist or theologian) doesn’t believe the Bible re creation, Adam, Noah etc., then why should they take any notice of the Bible re sexual sin etc.? Similar arguments are often at the heart of why many people, raised as Christians, lose faith.

    As I see it, hijacking a big political party is not a viable short cut to righteous government. Rather, the solution is the long march to revival in church and nation – until He comes.

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