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The Liberal Party must move left

By Peter Bowden - posted Wednesday, 1 June 2022

The cause of the massive defeat of the Liberal Party at the recent election was indubitably the deep-seated dislike for Scott Morrison. After the Coalition lost the 2022 Australian federal election and Morrison announced that he would resign as Liberal Party leader, Peter Dutton has been seen as the front runner to lead the party.

The media tells us that the Liberal's more conservative faction reckon they have the votes to make Dutton win.

To do so would be the kiss of death for the Liberal Party. Peter Dutton is a conservative. Mark McGowan, the WA premier stated that 'He is an extremist and I don't think he fits in with modern Australia at all. ,,, He is extremely conservative.' Mark McGowan was responsible for the Labor Party's major gains in the recent election . Nationally, Labor took a 0.5 per cent hit in its primary vote, but in WA it surged by 7.4 per cent, toppling two coalition ministers, flipping four seats red and clearing the path for Labor to form majority government. The recent Q& A session on ABC Tv spent considerable time arguing whether Dutton's hard line conservatism made him a suitable leader of the Liberal party. Additionally, the aggressive language that the Coalition's Peter Dutton employed in relation to China clearly alienated many Chinese-Australians.


The Liberals must prioritise fairness, protect minority groups and ditch the culture wars stoked under Scott Morrison's leadership, Liberal senator Andrew Bragg says, warning that a move to the right would "guarantee political purgatory". This article asserts that it would guarantee oblivion,

The recent election also provided the nation's verdict on conservatism. Australians want action on global warming, on honesty in government, a fair go for women, Reference to a dictionary will tell you that a conservative is "adverse to change or innovation; holding traditional values". But this definition is insufficient for defining a political conservative. Gregory Schneider in The Conservative Century: From Reaction to Revolution, for instance, writes: "The label (conservatism) is in frequent use and has come to stand for a scepticism, at times an outright hostility, toward government social policies. (It stands for) a muscular foreign policy combined with a patriotic nationalism; a defence of traditional Christian religious values; and support for the free-market economic system.", The expectation that the elected members of a party toe their party line is the modern-day equivalent of conservatism - the dominance of those with wealth or power. It is a complete antithesis of democracy. *

The major defenders of conservatism world-wide, Friedrich von Hayek, Robert Nozick, Michael Savage and Barry Goldwater put up a sound defence, Possibly the strongest lines in the conservative argument are "I work hard, am successful, and create jobs. It is wrong to tax me more." And " My business creates jobs, builds national income,. I should get tax relief"

But this opinion writer argues that conservative thinking is essentially immoral.

Conservatism, in its classical expression – resistance to change – has resisted the great changes over history that have resulted in this century, despite its many imperfections, being of greater benefit to the vast majority of the human race, than over all of previous time. Thesocial developments over history have been immense:

The abolition of slavery; the overturning of feudalism; the rise of participative government; the creation of the welfare state - sickness, disability, universal education and old age benefits; the emancipation of women; support for single mothers; decriminalisation of homosexuality; the abolition of child labour; treatment of the mentally ill; even the ending of suttee.


All have been driven by a rejection of conservative thinking.

This rejection reflects a universal moral framework, repeated in numerous moral statements set out for us over the centuries .This moral framework is probably best reflected in The Parable of the Good Samaritan. A traveller is attacked by robbers and left half dead alongside the road. A Jewish priest and a Levite come by, but both ignore the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveller. Although Samaritans and Jews despised each other, the Samaritan helps the injured man.

The obligation was first documented by King Solomon but probably the wording most known to us is that of the Dalai Lama: "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them". This basic moral obligation was set out by King Solomon about 1000 BC in the Book of Proverbs in Proverb 3.27and Proverb 3.29, and as noted, repeated by Jesus Christ in the Parable of the Good Samaritan and to a large extent, in the Sermon on the Mount. Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote similar thoughts about 60 BC in his On Living and Dying Well.

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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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