Rocco Loiacano: Coalition forgetting its core principles

At the 2019 election, many conservatives – the ‘quiet Australians’ – went back to the Liberals, given that Malcolm Turnbull had finally been dispensed with and recalling that Scott Morrison stopped the boats and was a regular churchgoer.

At the 2019 election, many conservatives – the ‘quiet Australians’ – went back to the Liberals, given that Malcolm Turnbull had finally been dispensed with and recalling that Scott Morrison stopped the boats and was a regular churchgoer.

Further, they were genuinely concerned about Bill Shorten’s ‘drastic climate action’.

However, according to the latest Newspoll, that trend is apparently being reversed, with support for the Coalition at its lowest since September 2018.

After eight years of Coalition governments, the quiet Australians have reason to be very aggrieved and, in particular, with the current tenant of the Lodge, who has proven to have no conviction whatsoever.

One of Ronald Reagan’s most famous political maxims was ‘dance with the one that brung ya’ — that is, don’t abandon the party base.

The Coalition’s base would have once united around shared values of social conservatives and economic dries: lower taxes, smaller government, reward for individual effort, defence of the family and the importance of national sovereignty, the rule of law and, above all, individual liberty.

However, the Coalition, led by Scott Morrison, no longer appears to stand for conservative values.

It has jumped on the “net-zero 2050” bandwagon, seemingly ignoring the fact that Australians have voted against the party promising the most drastic ‘climate action’ at every electoral opportunity.

As IPA research shows, 17 of the top 20 electorates with the highest proportion of jobs at risk from a ‘net zero’ emissions target are held by the Coalition, including six Nationals seats.

The Coalition used to be a staunch defender of the Constitution and the rule of law.

However, it was the Coalition under Scott Morrison that failed to protect the principle that underpins Australia’s Constitution: one indissoluble Commonwealth.

It was Scott Morrison who said “free speech doesn’t create a single job”.

If that is the case, how come Peter Ridd lost his job for pointing out deficiencies in research on the supposed “bleaching” of the Great Barrier Reef?

Western democracies with their vibrant economies depend completely on the free exchange of views. Freedom is not, as Morrison seems to believe, something government owns and will “return” to us if we do as we are told. That leads to tyranny.

Though he recently spoke of the importance of free speech, it was Scott Morrison who remained egregiously silent when a pregnant woman was arrested in her own home for posting an opinion on social media, and peaceful protesters were shot at with rubber bullets.

The Coalition’s traditional electoral appeal as prudent economic managers has also been recklessly abandoned.

However, the record debt Morrison and treasurer Josh Frydenburg have racked up isn’t the only fiscal problem.

Consider the following: Australia’s personal and corporate tax rates are among the highest in the OECD. Australia has an over-reliance on personal income tax over consumption taxes – almost half at 41 per cent.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 1960, family businesses contributed 26 per cent to Australia’s national income.

That figure is now nine per cent. After three terms in government, the Coalition has done nothing about these things.

It hasn’t enacted even modest industrial relations reform, or reined in SBS and the ABC. Why would it do anything in a fourth term?

What is more, despite numerous statements to the contrary, Morrison, his government and state premiers seem determined to steamroll us every day towards medical Jim Crow laws, where unvaccinated people will be considered unclean and thus unfit to participate in society. This is despite increasing evidence from around the world demonstrating that vaccinated people can still catch and transmit the virus, including from each other.

This is why Britain has ditched vaccine passports. As pointed out by numerous Tory backbenchers – Coalition MPs, take note – vaccine passports and mandates, whether imposed by government or by corporate proxy, are a redundant measure in light of ongoing community transmission, serve only to increase distrust of governments and thus serve no good point.

Seeing that the Coalition has abandoned conservative values, its base, gravely concerned for the future of this country, is looking to alternative parties that espouse those values.

As our longest serving prime minister, Sir Robert Menzies said prophetically in a 1946 radio broadcast The Choice: “We need constantly to remind ourselves that democracy can produce tyranny just as readily as any other system of government unless the individual democrat has learned to attach supreme importance to individual freedom.”

Rocco Loiacano is a senior lecturer at Curtin University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Curtin University.

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