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Tony Abbott defines the new conservatism

By Peter Bowden - posted Monday, 20 March 2017


Abbott’s five points provide his definitions of conservatism. The website for the book provides another definition: “What you have here are top people in their fields giving you something you will not find on the ABC”. For readers from other countries, the ABC is the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the national publicly-funded broadcaster, frequently attacked by those on the right for having a left wing bias.

He also did not set out all his own definitions. Alongside renewable energy, go tax reform and Gonski as well as attacks on the most vulnerable, and the Corey Bernardi split with the Liberals to establish his own party, Australian Conservatives, “to reconnect with voters and restore traditional Menzies-era values”.   It can be readily argued that the current conservative position is a shift to the right. The Present Liberal Party  is  not the party of Menzies. Menzies, in two powerful speeches, identified the state’s obligation to address unemployment, and secure economic security and material well-being through social legislation. He advocated fierce independence, but the difficulties of those who fell through the cracks were to be ameliorated.

Turnbull’s only hope of survival is to stop catering to his conservative right wing, and revert to his own centrist policies. He will then return Australia to the political centre – to a small l liberal party in government.

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Waging war, or at least being confrontational, is yet another Abbott conservative position. On Indonesia ,or on shirtfronting Vladimir Putin or Abbott’s desire to invade Iraq. We may think that these positions are only due to Abbott’s combative personality, that they do not define a conservative. But Donald Trump on the new conservative right in the United States  is just as combative: The Islamic world, the wall across Mexico, the war in Iraq,The South China Sea, World War III, defence spending. Billions for wall, military spending as Donald Trump's budget slashes funds for climate change, housing. Tony Abbott, if he had his way, would be right in there with Trump. What will be his next grenade?  Australia will be a safer place if Abbott stuck to his original promise of no wrecking, no undermining. Unfortunately, he is a wrecker. Turnbull should shift left, away from the new conservatives, for his and the country’s benefit.

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About the Author

Peter Bowden is an author, researcher and ethicist. He was formerly Coordinator of the MBA Program at Monash University and Professor of Administrative Studies at Manchester University. He is currently a member of the Australian Business Ethics Network , working on business, institutional, and personal ethics.

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