Leading article Australia

CPAC tests Libs

The Spectator Australia

The Spectator Australia

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The Spectator Australia

8 October 2022

9:00 AM

First up, we can all agree that the Australian Conservative Political Action Conference held last weekend at Sydney’s International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour was an outstanding success. The event, over two days, and including a wonderful gala dinner at the Sheraton on the Park, brought together an extraordinary array of conservative talent that should not only fill any common-sense, traditionally minded Australian with pride and optimism, but put to shame all those other conferences – predominantly of the Left – that purport to canvass ‘dangerous’ or indeed any ideas.

The highlights of the conference are almost too numerous to choose between, but it is impossible to not immediately mention the extraordinary Battleground Melbourne Live. In what felt more like avant-garde theatre than a conference set-piece, four individuals from Melbourne standing in harsh spotlights told their individual and at times heart-breaking experiences of defying the Andrews government during Covid lockdowns. This was punctuated with footage from the outstanding film, Battleground Melbourne (which can be viewed for free at battlegroundmelbourne.com), made by anti-lockdown activist Topher Field. Accompanying Topher on the CPAC stage were Krystle Mitchell, the brave policewoman who stepped down during Covid because of her opposition to Victoria Police’s excessively authoritarian and increasingly brutal tactics; Carly Soderstrom, who was subject to the most vile death and rape threats for her opposition to lockdown; and Matt Lawson, who was severely injured by rubber bullets and is now working with VicPol to try and prevent such outrages occurring again.

Suffice to say that at the end of the 45-minute performance, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

The theatrics returned unintentionally in a more ad hoc fashion later in the day with a rather silly stoush between former Howard minister Nick Minchin, Liberal Vice-President Teena McQueen, the Menzies Centre’s Nick Cater (all on the stage) and some disgruntled yahoos in the audience. More on that in a second.

Other stellar performances were delivered by former Liberal senator Amanda Stoker, Matt Canavan, Alex Antic, former prime minister Tony Abbott, Nigel Farage, Ross Cameron and Mark Latham and, most notably, Jacinta Price solo and then with Warren Mundine and Anthony Dillon. Ian Plimer, James Allan, the rapper Zuby, Alan Jones, nuclear advocates Michael Shellenberger and Zion Lights and many others all provided a rich and nutritious diet of red meat aka conservatism.

The key themes that emerged as a guide to modern Australian conservatism were a desire to restore to national prominence the rights and freedoms of the individual, and the need for every individual in their own way to be brave enough to stand up to the ever-increasing tyranny of the leftist collective. As Mark Latham pointed out, it is no longer good enough for conservatives to resist change, they must actively fight in whatever way they can to re-capture those institutions that have been decimated by the Left. Resistance to the Voice, challenging climate change and the abandonment of net zero – or the adoption of nuclear power as the only way to achieve it – were also key themes.

The conference provided an unambiguous, clear-headed and potent agenda for anyone opposed to Labor, the Greens and the broader Left to adopt. Alas, despite the attendance of many Liberals, the rancour between disaffected, former Liberal voters and the party itself spilled into the open more than once. The loudest boos for a ‘lefty’ during the gala evening ‘Kristina Kup’ skit went not to Klaus Schwab, Daniel Andrews or Jacinda Ardern, but rather to the NSW Liberal’s own Matt Kean. When the editor of this magazine suggested that Senator Jacinta Price was not being supported enough by the Liberal party, he was quickly set straight by Ms McQueen. (The criticism was that the party is not supporting her politically on opposing the Voice, as opposed to financially). And then came the on-stage stoush with members of the audience rudely booing when Mr Minchin suggested that ‘the Liberal party does not need to change’. Such complacency is almost certainly misplaced. Conservatives were right to predict that Malcolm Turnbull would be a disaster, that Scott Morrison was insane to adopt net zero and that his response to Covid was wrong-headed both in principle and in practice. These issues need addressing and the best time to do so is obviously in opposition, and the best way to do so is to listen to those critics who are ideological fellow-travellers. The test for Peter Dutton will be whether he will turn towards or away from those conservatives who do believe the Liberal party needs to change.

Mr Dutton must not forget it is conservatives who have defended and supported him throughout his career and are now looking to him to return the party to more traditional roots. For every noisy CPAC-er, there are hundreds of thousands of equally conservative ‘quiet’ Australians.

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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