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Why we need a 'conservative spring'

By Dominic Perrottet - posted Friday, 30 December 2016

Almost 75 years ago, Sir Robert Menzies gave his famous "Forgotten People" address .

He spoke of the middle class as the nation's backbone, individual enterprise, governing for everyone and family as the cornerstone for society.

Whether it was Robert Menzies or John Howard – it is Liberal governments, following these timeless principles, who generate wealth, opportunity and progress.


But we cannot rest on our laurels. We live in an age of disruption – and politics is no exception. From Trump to Sanders, from Corbyn to Brexit, the tectonic plates of the political landscape are shifting.

There is a loss of faith in public institutions, the political class and its programme.

Establishment parties overseas are perceived as being on a unity ticket - of big government globalism, crony capitalism and minority fundamentalism.

The frustrated centre is rejecting this elitist agenda and looking elsewhere for solutions - ending up in the arms of reactionary parties.

Much of the success of these reactionaries has been their willingness to challenge political correctness and be a voice for the dispossessed.

Here in Australia, we have seen the minor party vote surge. This is a warning shot across the bow of the conservative establishment.


There is a real danger here, just like Uber disrupted the taxi industry, that reactionary parties will displace the traditional conservative movement.

I believe our problems start with a lack of clarity about our purpose.

No one would be under any illusions as to the goals of the political Left. Their original aim of social justice, through helping the working class, has been left far behind. Today they cloak their politics in the sweet rhetoric of fairness, equality and tolerance – but their agenda is far from benign.

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This is an edited version of a speech entitled "The Future Of Conservatism: Why We Need A Conservative Spring" delivered by Hon Dominic Perrottet.

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About the Author

Dominic Perrottet is the NSW Liberal Member for Hawkesbury and the Minister for Finance, Services and Property.

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