When the conservative Liberal Party’s Tony Abbott was elected prime minister of Australia two years ago, I wrote a piece for TAS (“A Winner Heard Round the World”) hailing the fact that one English-speaking country at least was now led by a conservative who meant it.
It makes painful reading today. Not because Abbott disappointed — he was overly slow about some reforms, but he was steadily putting the building-blocks in the right places, scrapping the idiotic carbon tax and the tax on mining (Australia’s chief source of foreign income), concluding important trade agreements, and halting the flood of so-called “asylum seekers.” I would unsay no word of my portrait of him now.
He has been deposed — viciously, just four days before he completed two years as prime minister, thus just missing out on a prime minister’s pension.
His political assassin, Malcolm Turnbull, who has spent the last two years gathering numbers in the Party room, is a millionaire lawyer and merchant banker on the far left of the Liberal Party.
With a curious blindness, Abbott had made him minister responsible for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), its political and cultural commentary and reportage long ago captured, even more thoroughly than the British BBC, by the far left. (The initials ABC are variously said to stand for “Anyone but Conservatives” or “Anarchists, Bolshies and Comms.”)
It was the portfolio where most of all a tough-minded conservative was needed.
Turnbull did not need to suborn the ABC (which is supported by the taxpayer to the tune of about $A1.1 billion — more than the service sections of the Australian Navy). It was quite ready to pour out anti-Abbott venom of its own accord without prompting from anyone.
The most that can be said of Turnbull is that he supported the ABC in principle, defended it against criticism, and did nothing to rein it in or to correct or even rebuke its leftist bias (this bias was a blatant trampling on its charter which obliges it, in theory, to be impartial).
Turnbull’s earlier background was with the leftist Australian Labor Party, where he had many close business and professional associations. He recently told the leftist Fairfax Press that he wants, as Fairfax put it, “to change the culture; the culture of government, the culture of politics, the culture of business. Even the way Australia presents itself to the world.” And who might be Turnbull’s guide for these radical shifts? Fairfax continues:
He cites the founder of modern China, Mao Zedong, in a famous declaration attributed to him in the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 when he said: “The Chinese people have stood up!” And Turnbull adapts it for Australia: “Modern China is built upon an assertion of national sovereignty. And that is why we say to China, ‘The Australian people stand up!’ repeating it in Mandarin.
Again, in 2011, Turnbull gave a speech at the London School of Economics:
“The economic success of modern China, whether manifested in gleaming new cities, fast trains and freeways, or in tanks and stealth fighter jets, is the fulfillment of Mao’s proud boast in 1949 from the top of Tien An Men. ‘Zhong guo ren min zanqilai le’ — the Chinese people have stood up. And so they have — and we are now all taking notice.”
Actually, not all the Chinese people had stood up. About 60 million were lying quite flat, because Turnbull’s great guide had had them murdered. One senior commentator said the LSE speech should have disqualified Turnbull from being prime minister of Australia.
As previous leader of the Liberal Party in opposition he proposed support for the carbon tax (causing Abbott at that time to resign from the opposition front bench. He will probably be chary about inflicting even more and deeper wounds on the Liberal Party already deeply divided by Abbott’s ousting. (Not one member of the lay party I have spoken too is anything but dismayed by it.) Anyway, the cultural and political enemies of conservatism in Australia are delighted.
I wrote in 2013, “It seems likely Abbott will rebuild Australia’s dangerously diminished defense forces. He has given notice that he will not increase foreign aid, though it would be better for all parties if he cut it down to nothing but disaster relief.” All that is in the melting-pot now.
With Stephen Harper replaced by Justin Trudeau in Canada, the financially clever but politically purblind David Cameron in Britain who has been letting the forces of political correctness run wild, and with both Scotland and the Labour opposition captured by the extreme left, with Obama (enough said!), there does not seem to be a single true conservative leader in any major English-speaking country at this moment, with a weather-cock Pope for good (or bad) measure.
For Australia there is one possible thought. Its greatest prime minister, Sir Robert Menzies, was, like Abbott, deposed by his own party (the same Liberal Party) after two years’ leadership. The second most successful, John Howard, was also deposed when leader of the opposition. In both cases they bided their time and eventually returned in triumph.
Abbott is a fighter — an outstanding amateur boxer with an unbroken nose. I hope that stands for something.