A question often asked and rarely properly considered is this: why is it important to be in government? And indeed – and worryingly – why are we here?
Leaving aside the individual policies and politics of the day, I think that the reason it’s important lies in the first task of government: acting as a guardian of our societal institutions and in doing so, supporting the community to build a stronger society.
The reality is very simple: you can’t have a strong economy without a strong society.
Despite how crucial this task is, it is something that is actively scoffed at by the Left who constantly seek to drive radical cultural shifts from a position of government.
Meanwhile, we often sideline the task in an effort to focus on the perceived ‘more important’ issues of the day. I think this is not only wrong, but we are marked down for it by the community and continue to see a diminution of our society as a result.
A key result of the failure to promote and defend our civil society is the emergence of a bizarre, politically correct apologist culture, which expects apologies for everything and demands that every utterance and thought is in line with the strict instructions of the PC elite. And if you step out of line, you can expect to be attacked online, named and shamed in certain elements of the media or even hauled before the Human Rights Commission.
Australians are innately patriotic – we are proud of our identity and dislike moves to recast who we are, we prefer common-sense to excessive political correctness and we instinctively back aspirational hard workers over slackers who want everything delivered on a silver platter. Despite this, several cultural institutions have fallen to the Left and in many instances we turn a blind eye and refuse to act. Worse still, we constantly allow the Left to define us and our motives, right across the board.
We allow others to paint us as the extremists, when the reality is that our values are mainstream and it is the Left who seek to push a radical agenda. Never forget: we are the centrists that best represent all Australians.More people listen to the Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and Ben Fordham figures of the world than tune into ‘The Project’. More people read Andrew Bolt than they do the Queen of tolerance herself, Mia Freedman. Indeed, former Media Watch host Jonathon Holmes recently opined in a Fairfax Opinion Piece that “Those to the right of the political spectrum are amply catered for by commercial radio. Indeed, it’s even harder to find a leftwing presenter on commercial talk radio than it is to find a right-winger on the ABC” – demonstrating that taxpayer subsidies are required for left-wing thought, but ‘right-wing’ commentary is commercially saleable.
And why does this matter? It matters because Liberal and Coalition Governments spend too much time listening to loud, minority elements of the media without actually listening to the people – a people who want government to focus on getting the essentials right and defending our society, rather than pandering to the left-wing media and academic elite.
While they advocate for radically disassociating ourselves from Israel, limiting any form of non-politically correct thought or speech, indoctrinating primary school children about transgender sex, changing the definition of marriage or permitting open borders, the public are looking for people to actually stand up for them. Not just for their policy priorities, but for their values – which happen to align with our own. Values such as free speech, national pride, support for the Crown, reward for effort, the rule of law and parental choice. Why we can’t do a stronger job at articulating these values and sticking to our guns is beyond me.
The Howard Government did a good job at promoting and defending our society and its institutions and, indeed, was at its strongest when doing so. From large-scale issues like Mr Howard’s defence of our Constitutional Monarchy, sending troops in to bring freedom to nations, holding our borders firm or stamping out union thuggery on worksites, right through to requiring that any school wanting funding from the Federal Government install and fly the Australian flag. The Howard Government didn’t just govern, it found the time to proudly stand by our values in building a strong society, which in turn brought other benefits.
The test for us as a party is to hold our resolve and resist the new, shiny fads so often brought forward and dressed up as ‘modernity’. I, along with the vast majority of Australians, think that our country is pretty great – we don’t need the Left’s constant free character assessments, or radical shifts in policy or values to appease a minority.
If we don’t use this time in Government to, at the very least, wind back some of these shifts, spurred on by Labor and the Greens, we will be doing our nation a disservice. But we should be doing a whole lot more than that. We should be defending our civil society, its people and the institutions that have stood the test of time and still serve us incredibly well.
As a party, we need to stop being frightened of short-term political fallout and win back the respect of the people for having the courage of our convictions.
Josh Manuatu is the Federal Development Director of the Young Liberal Movement of Australia