CultureWatch

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

The Death of Conservatism in Australia?

Dec 16, 2020

How does conservatism fare in Australia today?

There are of course some conservative voices to be found in Australia – but there are not that many of them around. And I happen to know quite a few of them. Having been involved in lobbying, the culture wars, and political commentary here for over three decades, I have seen some of them come and go.

Some have been around far longer than I and are still doing a valiant job. Fred Nile, the Christian conservative, is 86 years old, and has been a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council since 1981 – nearly 40 years! Babette Francis of Endeavour Forum just celebrated her 90th birthday, and her prolife and profamily organisation has been going strong since 1979 – over 40 years!

I am on dangerous ground here: once I start naming names, there are quite a few others worthy of mentioning. But many of these folks have retired from their activism or will very soon. Yes, there are also many young guns on the block, and I could mention many of them as well.

But aside from various conservative lobby groups and activist organisations, my main focus here is on the political realm, and to a lesser extent on the media. And here I am again loathe to mention too many names. Our Christian Prime Minister has been a bit of a mixed bag, and has been disappointing perhaps too often.

Sure, the old line – “well, he is better than Shorten” – is of course true, but sadly it may not take us very far. And that would be true of various other conservative leaders and politicians: they often may not be all that terrific, and all we can do is say that compared to their political opponents, they have at least some merit.

Still speaking in general terms here, often the best and most consistent and most brave conservative politicians in Australia also happen to be Christians. But the Christian/conservative combination is no guarantee of a consistent and principled position.

I recall talking with one such fellow not long after I arrived here in the late 80s. I had already known him, and all Australians would know of him if I mentioned his name. I was talking about the importance of the pro-life cause and he told me straight out that abortion was just not an issue to run with, as there would not be enough people in favour of challenging it – there would not be enough votes in it.

While that might be more or less true, and while political realism is always important, sometimes standing up for what is right, regardless of how popular or unpopular it is, is the best and most honourable way to proceed. But sadly the number of committed and consistent prolife politicians both federally and in the states are far too few. Again, I should not name names, but I must single out just one: Victorian MP Bernie Finn has been about as relentless and outspoken on this issue as you can possibly be.

As to the media, I have discussed – or rather lamented – before the rather so-so nature of Sky News: while it is nice that some conservative voices can be found there, way too often they are much more accurately described as libertarians and free marketeers, and NOT actual conservatives.

And overwhelmingly most are secularists, agnostics or even atheists. Very few conservatives who are also committed Christians can be found there. And it shows. Too many times I have had to just turn it off, as the line-up of prime time hosts so often just let down our side – or at least my side.

I have given examples of this in the past. Just one more: not too long ago we had Paul Murray and most of his ‘conservative’ allies smirking and basically making fun of a ‘bonking ban’ while the lone lefty actually tried to defend it! You know the state of Australian conservatism is pretty abysmal when that sort of thing happens.

But at least one conservative, Matt Canavan, did try to give a bit of a case for why such a ban might be reasonable. It is so sad and discouraging when most of our ‘conservative’ spokespersons are basically on the same page as the left on so many key moral and cultural issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, and related issues.

But let me conclude by sharing a terrific piece that just appeared today in Quadrant magazine. It very nicely makes the case that I have been trying to make. It is by Stuart Lindsay, a retired Federal Circuit Court Judge. It is short enough that I will feature all of it here:

I have read Victoria’s Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 very carefully. I know its evils. I understand its malign and epochal significance. I also know the Bill will become law early in 2021 and will not be amended in other than inconsequential ways, and then only to cater for certain Upper House members who are actually very keen to vote for it but wish to gesture some modicum of “reluctance” at doing so.

As I explained almost a year ago, ordinary citizens will risk imprisonment if they speak out against the chemical, psychological and physical mutilation of confused children and adolescents who believe, or are being told, they were born in the wrong bodies.

Premier Daniel Andrews has no reason to compromise. He is a hard-core cultural marxist surrounded by like-minded ministers and a well-rewarded bureaucracy that has come to include a politicised Victoria Police, all of which are as enthusiastic as is he about extinguishing the last flicker of Judeo-Christian influence in public policy and in the law itself. The Victorian and national media, with rare and somewhat erratic exceptions, never challenge him. Indeed, when Peta Credlin grilled Andrews about the hotel quarantine debacle, she was derided by journalists who had been for the most part incuriously content to take down Andrews’ stenography and leave it at that. It was a lack of curiosity that came as Victorians submitted this year to the most intrusive regulation of their personal lives of a citizenry in the history of Western democracies.

Why would Andrews & Co consent to alter even one phrase in this bill? What incentive is there for them to do so, however truthfully and competently and clearly we argue the case? They will not be persuaded. Hard-core leftists do not hearken unto truth or reason.

As to the Opposition, no hope of there. Liberal leader Michael O’Brien’s ‘team’ is feeble, disunited and, on issue after issue, a dictionary illustration of political impotence. Indeed, it seems almost to contain as many members viciously anti-Christian and homosexualist in background as the government itself. As a senior Victorian Liberal recently put it in private conversation, “One-third would be at home in The Greens and another third are wind vanes, the rest are on the outer.” 

What, then, is to be done? We are obliged by conscience to oppose this new law as effectively as possible. But how can we effectively respond to its passage through Parliament, given the present political disposition outlined above?

It seems to me that Christians and even their non-Christian conservative auxiliaries must take this chance to ensure the Liberal Party finds its backbone or is eliminated as a viable political force. If the party fails on this issue, any of us within the party must leave it. We must persuade those who finance it and manage it to abandon it, as if it were a sinking ship, which it is. We must expose and oppose the pusillanimity and faithlessness of its leadership. We must encourage its eminence grise (national and state) to abandon them, John Howard and Peter Costello to begin with. Do they want any legacy at all? This is the party that facilitated the desecration of the Marriage Act, and whose current federal leader, our Prime Minister, abstained from voting on the Bill that achieved that desecration.

This particular fight on this bill will be lost but much can be done to start upon the creation of a genuinely conservative opposition which would reflexively and, based upon religious conviction and native principle, fight to the death against bills of this kind in future.

This is a very brief explication of the position I have come to after much reflection. It is not a worthy endeavour to go through the motions of opposing an evil with allies we know will fail us. quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2020/12/seldom-seen-rarely-heard/

Terrific stuff – my sentiments exactly. Now that is a voice of conservatism that I can champion and promote. Well done Stuart Lindsay.

Afterword

It should go without saying that this cry of despair over the sad state of Australian conservatism is not the end of the matter for me. Those who are familiar with this site will know that first and foremost I am a committed Christian. As such, I know full well that politics cannot save us, that a political messiah will never be our answer, and that we must always be realistic about the limits of politics.

Only Jesus can save us, and only a major turn to Christ will give this nation any real hope. At bottom our problems are spiritual in nature, and so only a spiritual solution can give us what we long for. But I am no pietist nor escapist. I believe both things are important. We must engage on the spiritual level, but along with that we need to engage in the other levels as well: the political, the social, the cultural, the intellectual, and so on.

So I will work to see a restoration of some true conservatism in the nation, while also knowing that in and of itself, it will only be a Band-Aid solution. At the very least, with what days I have left here, I can commit myself to praying even more and working even more.

Who will join me?

[1658 words]

26 Responses to The Death of Conservatism in Australia?

  • I believe Psalm 31:14-24 was written for those of us who are conservative Bill. I find these words incredibly comforting, now more than ever.

    14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
    15 My times are in your hand;
    rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
    16 Make your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your steadfast love!

    17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
    for I call upon you;
    let the wicked be put to shame;
    let them go silently to Sheol.
    18 Let the lying lips be mute,
    which speak insolently against the righteous
    in pride and contempt.

    19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
    which you have stored up for those who fear you
    and worked for those who take refuge in you,
    in the sight of the children of mankind!
    20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
    from the plots of men;
    you store them in your shelter
    from the strife of tongues.

    21 Blessed be the Lord,
    for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
    when I was in a besieged city.
    22 I had said in my alarm,[a]
    “I am cut off from your sight.”
    But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
    when I cried to you for help.

    23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
    The Lord preserves the faithful
    but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
    24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the Lord!

    God bless you Bill, thank you for not giving up hope.

  • Christians need to have are strong Party with are strong leader to represent out interests within the Political Arena. There is are new party that is just arising out of the ashes called A1 Australian One Party. We all need are voice speaking for us and the leader of this Party by the name of Riccardo could very well be that man. Worth watching this small clip.
    https://youtu.be/5qO4LXsXSMU and decide for yourself. You can also see him being interviewed through Arc https://www.facebook.com/riccardobosi.page/videos/841112066685140

  • Dear Bill, how brave you and the people you mention are. Thank you Holly for your quote from Psalm 31.
    My concern here is retrospectivity, with this legislation. How long until that is tested? Your efforts over the years, Bill could be illegal, the Bible itself “could” be deemed illegal.
    One shudders you think, your recent work on ‘end times’ , Bill this legislation would appear to be in line with those events.
    I sincerely pray for The Lords protection upon you and your work Bill.
    Mark Bryant

  • In these last days, lawlessness will abound.
    Things in America aren’t looking so rosy, either.

  • Yes quite right William.

  • I am an 84 year old born again Christian. Reading your article it appears the only difference between us is the accent. My country also needs Christ centered leadership. I for one will not remain silent.

  • The way the media is people are unlikely to know conservative parties/issues/arguments/etc. exist let alone vote for them. This is the problem. We can lament the state of politics but it is simply reflecting the state of the nation and our people and these are being completely manipulated by the media in their pursuit of hedonism and Marxism. Everything the left-wing of politics does wrong is pretty much ignored and the errors on the conservative side are amplified out of all proportion but the fact is there are errors on the conservative side and this has to be stopped because even the slightest error will be exploited to the greatest possible degree.

    Unfortunately what we are actually seeing from the conservative side is very much less about getting things right and more about buying votes, so both sides of politics are now leading us to become near bankrupt, both morally and financially, and this is exactly as God told us would happen to Israel if she went down that path (Deut 28). God is definitely consistent and the plague He has sent is, I’m sure, just the start, just as He said to Israel.

    The demonically stirred up and promoted arrogance and blasphemy of mankind will definitely be brought to nothing and one way or another, people will be lead to understand that truth and justice are more than simply integrally linked, they are one. The lies of the left-wing politicians, whether from China or Victoria, will be proven to be dysfunctional. That we have to go through this to be taught truth is lamentable but, as God told Jonah about the people of Nineveh (the forerunner of Babylon) , they were so stupid they didn’t even know their right hand from their left (Jon 4).

  • I thank you Bill for all that you publish here and on Facebook. You are a great warrior for our Lord and Saviour. Stand strong and stay courageous for your work will be rewarded in heaven. Let us not be counted with those who oppose God and will suffer his judgment.

    Isaiah 65:12
    Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, But did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.”

    We all have a choice to make, let us say together.

    Joshua 24:15
    But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

  • Here’s bright hope for faithful new beginnings:

    https://australiaoneparty.com/

  • Here’s an appropriate Scriptural admonition given the anonymous senior Liberal’s brilliant comment that one-third of his party’s parliamentarians are “wind vanes”:

    Ephesians 4:13-14 … until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

  • I agree that there are not many conservative politicians left in Australia at the moment. I’d have to say that Tony Abbot was the last conservative PM as Scott Morrison seems to be going with the flow. The Labor party seems to have turned into the Greens party and the Liberal/Nationals seemed to have turned Labor as we have politicians in both State and Federal wanting renewables and voting for abortion, euthanasia etc. The Australia One Party Suzanna mentions above is very conservative as it is a moral party not a Christian party as its leader, Riccardo Bosi says. I feel that if President Trump wins the election things like abortion, euthanasia, gender conversions etc will be squashed and Australia will follow suit if we get some better leaders like Riccardo Bosi wants to do.
    Bill, I don’t know if you are going to have an article about the Ratcliffe Report or Executive Order 13848 that President Trump instigated back in 2018 (I have only learnt about it today) as I am hoping that it will overturn everything. With William Barr resigning and another Attorney General to be instated will put the 45 days due on 18th back another week or two. There is no mention of it on skynews channel, it seems to be top secret.

  • Thank you Bill,
    Your last paragraph sums up nicely. Here in the ‘states’ we are going to need some strong prayer warriors looking towards restoration as well. But, as you rightfully said, it is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who brought us back from the dead, who saves, and with that new life we must ‘finish the race’ he has for us. LET’S PRAY!
    Respectfully,
    Ron Adams

  • You, along with a few others, have inspired me over the last 2 years or so to pray and speak out more regarding these topics and Christian values.
    My reading this morning included the following words of Jesus from Mark 8:
    “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
    And “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
    It is very clear.
    Thank you for your constant “poking”.

  • Victorians should be marching through the streets over this. We failed to oppose these laws in Queensland when the state government sneaked them through during Covid, and now we are stuck with that government for another four years. Where is our backbone? We lack the fighting spirit of our forebears. We are not worthy of them.

  • I think you would have to regard Andrew Bolt as a powerful conservative voice though he does not claim to be a Christian. Peta Credlin is pretty good and I think I would add Alan Jones though I am nor particularly a fan of his. There are a few younger Christian conservatives such as Lyle Shelton and ACL’s Martin Iles. I think it’s fair to say Fox is a conservative voice in the USA and the contrast with CNN is so telling. But you Bill like me have been battling away for a long time. Let’s not grow weary.

  • Thank you Bill for this wonderful ray of conservative hope. It’s most uplifting to note the few remaining bastions of encouragement for true conservative Christian hope. Sadly it does feel like we’re on a most remote outposts in our Australian so-called Christian culture.
    I am especially grateful that you call to some unity for the remaining Christian thinkers to unite behind a deservingly suitable party.
    Your piece has adequately highlighted and identified a party with whom I from this point forward wish to be associated with, I have already acted on joining and requesting membership by using the link provided by one of the above commenters.
    Let me promote the link again, https://australiaoneparty.com/
    Wilhelmus Heggers

  • Thank you Bill, a timely reminder of the slide into subjective oblivion when reviewing the state of our nation and so called Representative Government. Sadly the Liberal party (both States and National) is becoming quite lame and diabolical (referring to Abortion Laws introduced in NSW) in recent times, with a few notable exceptions such as Bernie Finn MP, as you mention.

    I will draw your readers attention to a conservation party (I am a member), the Democratic Labour Party. Don’t be distracted by the word Labour. Article 14 of its Constitution says: “14. To establish, under Almighty God, the political, legal, social and economic foundations for a just, free and democratic society and for a self-reliant and secure Australia.” Please take a minute or two to have a look. Also very pro-family and pro-life. Thank you. http://www.dlp.org.au/about

  • “…..politicized Victoria Police….”

    Supreme Law is the Welfare of the People.

    And it is those who have been locked in their own homes and go without income who then get to see those who make those rules, maintain their income and break their own rules.

    The opinions of the relations , friends, family and neighbors of serving police officers would somewhat differ I believe from Commissioner Ashton’s opinion of his civilian counterparts…..he seems all too pleased with their so called ‘efforts’.

    There is clearly no shame in being a conservative in Victoria if this is how our progressive elites behave.

    The people are the police and the police are the people — and that’s why we don’t vote for that arm of government, as they are supposed to be trusted, as they are largely drawn from the Victorian civilian population…….from their parents, families and friends.

    Ashton appears to represent something else.

    Thanks Bill and God Bless.

  • I fear this is not only reflecting the state of our nation, as Michael Weeks put it, but sadly reflecting the state of our churches. Churches do not want to get involved in politics. I have spent my lifetime sitting in manse lounge rooms talking to ministers about the Christian Democratic Party and it’s Christian causes but even if the minister agrees with me, he is not going to say a word in his church, or usually even allow any leaflets to be given out, or even placed in his porch. Too political, too divisive! He will tell you he would then have to allow literature from the Libs, Labor, Greens, Sex Party etc… Really! Yes that is how important he thinks it is to fight for Christian values to be upheld in our country. In fact his other problem is that half the time he is not sure himself what the Christian values are, and who wants to go out an a limb for the Bible these days in a changing culture. More likely to be told that” the church has to change with the times”. It all reflects the church’s failure to acknowledge the authority of God’s Word, and from it’s Theological Colleges down they are all floundering on their foundations. I got howled down in a church service one day when I suggested at Prayer Time that we pray for Tony Abbott when he was standing for some Christian value, I can’t remember what it was now. I had met Tony and promised we would be praying for him. The minister said strongly from the pulpit that nothing ‘political’ would be mentioned in his church! A similar reaction when I asked outside of church to another minister recently about mentioning Lyle Shelton’s Court Case with the Transvestites, so the people could pray and support him… I don’t intend to give up fighting but I am afraid the church has lost it’s way and forgotten we are in a battle. “For this purpose the Son of God appeared, to destroy the works of the Evil One! No principalities or powers can stand against His throne. He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them on the cross!” 1 John 3:8: Col 2:15 Who is willing to make this their Christmas Message? This is how Jesus came to show God’s love for us. He come in our likeness to do battle against the Evil One for us. Why? to gain our redemption on the cross! We must keep standing up against evil in our society, no matter what the cost.

  • In America if you kill a bald eagle chick in an egg the penalties include a maximum of five years jail and $250,000 fine for felony convictions and a maximum $10,000 fine for civil violations and $250 for marking violations. Killing an unborn child is okay in America and Australia. I just don’t get it.

  • I am one of the ‘no longer quiet Aussie conservatives” and am trying to outline in clearly understandable and concise language why Classical Liberalism is so important and how we can hold the Liberals (a party based on Classical Liberalism) to account. With an unprincipled conservative body politic, our nation is doomed to the globalist forces and post-modernist left.
    Free download available for review – trying to help defend our culture and all that promotes truth, freedom and, as a consequence, prosperity.
    Blessings and peace!

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