ScoMo and the Libs: Reality Needs To Match the Rhetoric

Memo to the Libs: We need actions to match the words:

My title may baffle non-Australians so let me explain: ScoMo is Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison. And he leads our Liberal Party, which is actually not politically liberal – or is not supposed to be at least. It is more or less a party of the right, or centre-right. He famously won an unwinnable election back in May 2019.

For consistent conservatives, he has been a mixed bag unfortunately. Too often he has not delivered the goods. Too often he has been weak where he should have been strong. Which is why his recent speech – which was quite good – was all rather jarring. Conservatives want to see rhetoric matching the reality. More on the speech in a moment.

It is not just concerns about Morrison that many Australian conservatives have. There is also concern about the state of the Liberal Party itself, and its sometime coalition partner the Nationals. On a state level, as I and others have documented so often, the Libs in opposition have been woeful. Simply look at recent state elections in Victoria, Queensland and WA for starters.

It sure seems hard to find quality (i.e., genuinely conservative) party leaders. Here in Victoria with Dictator Dan Andrews of Labor seemingly unstoppable, we are still awaiting real opposition. No wonder some folks are talking about making Peta Credlin the new leader of the Libs, or even a resurrected Jeff Kennett.

And things are also quite worrying on the federal scene. Indeed, I have observed many worrying changes there over the past three decades. When I first moved here permanently back in 1989 – blame that on my Australian wife! – there were a number of not just conservatives but Christian conservatives in Parliament – or soon to be.

There were folks like Peter Costello, Tony Abbott, John Howard, John Bradford, Chris Miles, John Forrest, Alan Cadman, John Herron and John Anderson. I got to know a number of them. There was even a fellowship group for Christians and conservatives, the Lyons Forum that started in the early 90s and lasted for over a decade. But now all nine of the above-mentioned politicians – along with others – are gone.

And the haemorrhaging continues. For various reasons we have had a number of key conservatives leaving more recently, including Cory Bernardi who founded the short-lived Australian Conservatives back in 2017. And long-standing conservative Kevin Andrews lost a preselection battle and will soon be gone. Also, we had Craig Kelly leave a few months ago. Moreover, George Christensen will leave at the next election. And Amanda Stoker has just lost a Senate ticket top spot.

The news seems to get worse each passing week. The way things are going, give it another month or two and there may be no more real deal conservatives left – in which case, adios Libs/Nats. Yes we have a few conservatives still there, including Eric Abetz, Matt Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, and a handful of others, but the steady de-conservatising – if I can put it that way – is now a very real worry indeed.

This is often a problem with two-party politics in the West. Both leftist and rightist parties tend to shift to the left. Lefty parties get more lefty, while conservative parties get less conservative. It took Trump to shake things up big time with the Republicans in America. What will it take here in Australia?

As the main parties begin to more and more resemble each other, that really leaves genuine conservatives with real questions as to how to proceed – and who to vote for. Our options are becoming fewer and fewer, and many conservatives really are scratching their heads as to what lies ahead.

The speech

Which brings me to the recent speech of ScoMo. Delivered on Thursday night to Sydney’s Jewish community, it really was quite good. But it is the discrepancy between a solid conservative speech like this, and where he and the Libs are at – and headed – that is the real worry. We want the words and the actions to be as one. Right now they far too often are not.

But let me offer a few snippets from the speech. He said this:

At the heart of our Judeo-Christian heritage are two words. Human dignity. Everything else flows from this. Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of morality. It makes us more capable of love and compassion, of selflessness and forgiveness. Because if you see the dignity and worth of another person, another human being, the beating heart in front of you, you’re less likely to disrespect them, insult or show contempt or hatred for them, or seek to cancel them, as is becoming the fashion these days….

 

Human dignity is foundational to our freedom. It restrains government, it restrains our own actions and our own behaviour because we act for others and not ourselves, as you indeed do here this evening. That is the essence of morality. De Tocqueville agreed. He said, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith’. Hayek the economist said the same thing, “Freedom has never worked without deeply ingrained moral beliefs.” Acting to morally enhance the freedom of others ultimately serves to enhance our own freedom….

 

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women, when it dies there, no constitution, no law can save it. Freedom therefore rests on us taking personal responsibility for how we treat each other, based on our respect for, and appreciation of, human dignity. This is not about state power. This is not about market power. This is about morality and personal responsibility. Now, morality is also then the foundation of true community. The place where we are valued; where we are unique; where we respect one another and contribute to and share one another’s lives. Where we pledge faithfulness to do together what we cannot achieve alone….

 

Where we once understood our rights in terms of our protections from the state, now it seems these rights are increasingly defined by what we expect from the state. As citizens, we cannot allow what we think we are entitled to, to become more important than what we are responsible for as citizens.

 

Teddy Roosevelt argued this more than a century ago in his famous ‘Man in the Arena’ speech. But I’m not going to quote the section that is most known. Arguing that going down this path of entitlements of citizenship, as opposed to the responsibilities, is a very dangerous one, and it indeed jeopardises national success in a liberal democracy. He said, “The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation.”…

 

We must never surrender the truth that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal. You are more, we are more, individually, more than the things others try to identify us by, you by, in this age of identity politics. You are more than your gender, you are more than your race, you are more than your sexuality, you are more than your ethnicity, you are more than your religion, your language group, your age.

 

All of these of course contribute to who we may be and the incredible diversity of our society, particularly in this country, and our place in the world. But of themselves they are not the essence of our humanity. When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves, even worse, on this basis, we can lose sight of who we actually are as individual human beings – in all our complexity, in all our wholeness and in all our wonder.

 

We then define each other if we go down that other path by the boxes we tick or don’t tick, rather than our qualities, skills and character. And we fail to see the value that other people hold as individuals, with real agency and responsibility. Throughout history, we’ve seen what happens when people are defined solely by the group they belong to, or an attribute they have, or an identity they possess. The Jewish community understands that better than any in the world.

 

So my message is simple: you matter, you make the difference, you make community. And together with family and marriage and the associations of clubs and community groups, faith networks, indeed the organisations we’re here celebrating tonight, and so much more, they are the further building blocks of community on that individual, providing the stability and the sinews of society that bind us one to another. And upon that moral foundation of community we build our institutions of state. Within that moral context we operate our market place.

Stirring stuff indeed. Terrific words and terrific sentiments. But as always, we need a real marriage of the ideas and aspirations so powerfully expressed in the speech with a platform and with policies that fully match. As more and more good conservatives – many of them committed Christians – leave the Liberal Party, one wonders how things will go.

Sure, the Lib stalwarts will say: ‘Join the Libs. Get involved. Become a member.’ Yes but… So many are wondering what the point of that would be as they see the Libs continue to cave, to buckle, to sell out, and to turn against key conservative and Christian values.

Examples of this are numerous, including the recent vote on Labor’s ‘gay conversion’ legislation here in Victoria. Except for a handful of principled and consistent MPs, the great majority of the Libs – including its leader – fully supported it. Good grief, with political friends like that, who needs enemies?

So in practical terms, the way ahead is all very foggy, with no clear answers forthcoming. At the very least we can keep ScoMo and other Lib leaders in our prayers. They will certainly need them as things grow darker all around us, and as this Party seems to grow weaker and less conservative by the day.

[1660 words]

13 Replies to “ScoMo and the Libs: Reality Needs To Match the Rhetoric”

  1. Morrison’s words are smooth – the problem being, as you have identified, Bill, that they don’t match his actions.

    This man is arguably the most destructive and disillusioning PM Australia has had – a vandal of our economy, wrecklessly cranking Australia’s debt now above a trillion dollars. As Turnbull’s autobiography made clear, it was Morrison who was behind the knifing of the godly and honourable Tony Abbott. This treachery was the precursor to Morrison waiting in the wings until opportunity presented for him to make his move in the spill against Turnbull. Morrison cleverly drew in the Christian vote, then sidelined the Ruddock Review on Religious Freedom, leaving people of faith exposed to persecution. Morrison blows with the wind without conviction, standing for whatever he thinks will make him popular, as demonstrated in his talks to Christian and Jewish communities.

    As Aussies are waking up to this man, increasing numbers of people are now calling him: Scotty from Marketing, the Master of Deception.

    Morrison brutally threw our wonderful elite SAS under the bus, resulting in tragic suicides of our faithful and loyal servicemen who bravely defend our country – which Morrison himself would never be likely to do. Morrison sided with the Afghani accusers in their unproven accusations against our servicemen. Despite being asked to apologize to our troops, he arrogantly refuses to.

    During Turnbull’s Prime Ministership, Cory Bernardi formed the Australian Conservatives, however conservative Australian voters were then duped by Morrison’s ascension to the Liberal leadership and returned to the party they had known with the hope that the Liberal Party would return to its conservative values. Bernardi has subsequently disbanded the Australian Conservatives, however Morrison has determinedly moved the Liberal Party to the left.

    Recently Morrison did not endorse loyal Kevin Andrews for preselection, and Morrison gagged Craig Kelly when Kelly tried to speak reason, making it untenable for Craig Kelly to stay in the Liberal Party, and he moved to the crossbench.

    After the knifing of Tony Abbott, experienced and valued Christian conservative MPs were moved to the backbench by Turnbull. Morrison has not invited them to return to the frontbench, surrounding himself instead with those he perceives to be of minimal threat to him.

    Australia at this time is seriously devoid of wise and responsible leadership. Smooth words alone are not enough.

  2. Hi Bill, great assessment of Scott Morrison’s leadership.
    As a Christian I obviously voted for him above the Albanese Labour party as the murder rate last year of 87,000 children in the womb and rising which is one of the highest in the Free World.
    I totally concur with Suzanna Balfour and family that I feel I have been let down.
    He didn’t have the the moral courage to oppose “same sex marriage” by abstaining and to quote the Herald Sun’s comment on the Religions Freedom, “he has put plans to protect Religious Freedoms in the bottom drawer, a place where most political observers expect they will stay.
    The last straw was the treatment of our SAS soldiers. His commentary as a leader of the country when you consider that people joining the Australian Armed Forces have a 50% lower suicide rate than the National average, but on release have a 50% higher average rate than the National average.
    As a leader of our Nation, very disappointing indeed.

  3. Thank you Bill, Suzanna and Tim,
    Very concerning observations indeed.

    So, as Christians do we:

    A) Circle our wagons, try to protect ourselves and keep the world out (i.e. take the Benedict Option); nothing else to do or see here, or should we:

    B) Join the Liberal Party and lead upwards from the grassroots? Joining with other Christians to influence for good.
    The lefties filled the vacuum when good people moved out, so it’s time for good people to move back in and turn the tide!

    It won’t happen overnight, but it can happen.
    But it needs you.

  4. Thanks Peter. As to A, those who know me know that I believe we should fight and not opt out. As to B, I did discuss that briefly in my article. But of course there can be other options, be they with smaller parties, running as independents, and so on. It is not just one strategy alone we must run with, but perhaps a combination of them.

  5. PM Scott Morrison can size up his audience, and manipulate his speech to create the illusion with many words, that what he is saying, is actually what he will implement. But if we take the time in the realm of reality, he has not demonstrated actions to match his many words. He is using his marketing skills to sell us his products, many bought his products, only to find when they open his product, it is not anywhere what he sold us, it falls extremely short on credibility, value for the cost (our vote) we paid, and failure to live up to expectations. In fact, the quality is very poor, and the guarantee is worthless. The past experience has made us wary to continue to buy his product, his product is the same poor quality that his opposition is trying to sell us. He has refused to give us the quality product we once received from his old firm, a conservative product clearly identified as totally different to the non conservative products, they are both selling us identical products. No thank you. A very good report Bill, I am not buying their products, I am looking elsewhere.

  6. In forty years of being a Christian I have watched as governments moved further and further away from any purpose aligned with God.
    In a democracy the government reflects the people of the nation because a government that does not provide what the people feel is right will be voted out. If we weep with disappointment because a prime minister did not live up to our expectations then we can simply look at the state of the people and in this nation they have, as a whole, walked away from God.
    We as Christians need to get back to basics.
    Our authority is in God’s kingdom through Christ. It is in the realm of heaven that we Christians can do the greatest amount of damage to the works of our enemy.
    Our weapons are not of this world but are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds.
    First principal, seek God and find out what he wants. Learn to give up what we think is important and be obedient to God. Everything starts with Him.
    Second Principal. Every decision and action must be motivated by love, first for God and love for the lost otherwise there is no point and we are wasting our time.
    Third principal. Bind the strongman. Identify the principality that God is targeting and bind him. Without this everything we do will be a struggle and will likely fail
    Forth principal will come from the second principal. If God tells you to bind the strongman behind for example education then you will need to reach out to people involved in education in order to implement change in our world.

  7. Morrison clearly has the numbers and will not be challenged for the leadership before the next election. So it’s Morrison or Albanese. If Morrison loses (a big if) then there will an opportunity to replace him with a Conservative and there are a number of potential contenders though Peter Dutton is the most likely. Pray that Jim Molan is well enough to get back to work. And that Amanda Stoker wins a Senate Seat in Qld.

  8. Thank you for your comment Bill; I agree completely. Morrison is a weak leader and is lead by the MSM. We have enough coal to power us for 600 years and yet he will not be strong and have clean coal fired power stations constructed while China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, is building hundreds this decade. Nuclear power is obviously the way to go but Morrison won’t move on this. The submarine deal is an absolute disaster thanks to two lefties who have both left parliament and Morrison is still leaving it intact.

  9. Another great article Bill. I feel for Scott as he is a Christian who leads a secular party and needs to accommodate the whole party. He is not a dictator so he needs to use his influence and authority to lead the party, but there is no guarantee that policies will all be to our liking. There is then the major problem of the Senate and that is not easy to navigate.

    We need to be realistic that our culture is now anti Christian and the spirit of antiichrist reigns. We just need to keep speaking the truth as light shines brightest in the darkness,

  10. Well said Bill. The Bible teaches us that a tree is known by its fruit. I can’t help feeling a little sorry for Scomo, I still think that he’s decent bloke who has got into a fix with the Liberal Party moving in the direction of secular humanism. I think his mistake is not putting his trust in the Lord.

  11. Thanks for this article, Bill. The recent Tasmanian election was interesting, with Peter Gutwein’s Liberal government being returned, although they’ll have to wait until next week to find out if they’ve won a 2nd seat in Clark (a 13th seat overall) needed for a clear majority. Mr Gutwein has threatened (or promised) to resign the leadership if he doesn’t get a majority.

    All six Liberals who voted against “voluntary assisted dying” have been re-elected; most with increased personal votes. VAD is another trendy issue pushed by the media, out of proportion to its level of support in the community.

    But the architect of that bill, Mike Gaffney MLC, was elected unopposed, as no-one stood against him in his Upper House seat of Mersey. The major parties didn’t run candidates against him, because they supported what he was doing all along.

    I recently received a letter from one the Liberals you mentioned, with a handwritten note at the end, inviting me to join the party. What do you think I should do?

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