Closing the Door on the Light: Abolishing Protections in Anti-Discrimination Laws

First I want to address the issue of the protection of religious bodies. Once legislators started to add to discrimination law protected attributes such as for sexual activity, which we have in Victoria and one other jurisdiction, sexual orientation, and gender identity, we were no longer dealing with attributes like age, sex, or race, where there would be a 99.9 per cent consensus that it was wrong to treat anyone differentially on the basis of those attributes in most circumstances.

Once we moved into law for sexual activity, sexual orientation and gender identity, we entered into an area of controversy because “lawful sexual activity” would include sex outside marriage and adultery. Some people think adultery is fine, but other people do not.

So, when these attributes were introduced into legislation, the pressure came on to think about the groups – mainly but not exclusively religious groups – that will not be happy with a law that says they cannot differentiate or treat people differently on the basis of lawful sexual activity, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Now, instead of taking a nuanced view of this, the architects of anti-discrimination law back in the 1980s just said, let’s describe what it is to discriminate as broadly as possible. We’ll put in a really broad definition of discrimination. So, any adverse conduct in employment in relation to a person or any adverse conduct in relation to a student limiting any benefit that a student might get; really broad.

And then they thought, oh, there is going to be a problem at religious schools, because religious schools might not treat everyone the same, if a person’s sexual conduct is contrary to the religion. So, we’d better have an exemption – I prefer to call it a “balancing provision” – for religious bodies and educational institutions.

The classic form of exemption is like the one in the Northern Territory Anti-discrimination Act, which permits religious educational institutions to discriminate in relation to who they employ as staff in schools. If the discrimination is on the grounds of religious belief or activity, or sexuality, and is in good faith to avoid offending the religious sensitivities of the people of the religion to which the school adheres, it has to be in accordance with the doctrines or tenets or beliefs of that religion.

So, if it is the case of a teacher who engages in serial affairs or serial adultery, for instance, you do not have to employ that person, even though that would be unlawful under an anti-discrimination act that prohibited discrimination on the grounds of sexual activity. When it came to sexual orientation, a similarly broad definition of discrimination was applied, with pretty broad exemptions.

Looking again at the Northern Territory. Late last year, the NT removed that exemption totally. So, now religious schools in the NT do not have the benefit of that exemption in the case of employment and they have to prove a genuine occupational requirement. That is, they have to prove that the staffing position in question, whatever it is, genuinely requires that the person the school is looking to hire personally holds the same religious belief and adheres to the same moral standards as the school.

Now, under this amended legislation, the school has to show why in practice it is applying filters about sexuality, sexual conduct and religion to staff. These rules about not discriminating also apply in relation to students and board members and so on.

In Victoria, last year, a new law came in, through the Victorian Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Act, that limits the freedom of religious schools to discriminate in employment decisions and regarding students. So, for example, in terms of employment, the Victorian law says religious schools, colleges and universities have to prove the following things:

That it is inherent to the staffing position that the person conform to the doctrines, principles or beliefs of the religion of the religious educational institution.

Before the religious educational institution can take any adverse action on this basis, it has to prove that the person cannot satisfy the inherent requirement because of the person’s religious belief or activity (Note that it is about the person’s belief, not about the person’s sexual conduct, whether the person has a lawful occupation as a sex worker. That is a lawful occupation in Victoria, and the ACT now. You cannot look at those things. You can only look at whether their religious belief or religious activity does not conform to that of the religious educational institution.)

You also have to be able to prove that whatever action the school or college or university took in respect to the staff member or the applicant for a job was reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.

It is causing religious educational institutions considerable heartburn to work out how to deal with this, in terms of their staff, their hiring process, their ongoing performance review and performance management of staff; and also, in respect to students.

Which brings us to the federal Sex Discrimination Act and the federal Fair Work Act. These have some exemptions for religious bodies when they engage in discrimination or differential treatment for religious reasons.

The federal Sex Discrimination Act currently says that a religious educational institution can discriminate in employment in good faith in order to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents to the religion or creed.

The Federal Government referred the matter to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), asking for recommendations on how to do two things:

How to remove those freedoms of religious schools to discriminate in employment decisions and regarding student conduct.

And how to allow religious schools to maintain a community of faith by selecting staff who have the same religion as the school.

The ALRC produced its consultation paper in early February. It is amazingly unbalanced, thin on international law, and its analysis is not a good starting point to come up with any sort of balanced solution to the dilemma.

Let me give you a quick flavour of what the ALRC is recommending. It has some pretty bizarre proposals. It proposes that the rights of religious schools to preference people of faith in the selection of staff should be limited only to teaching roles; not the nurse, not the administration staff, not the maintenance person. And only those teaching roles where the observance or practice of the religion is a genuine requirement of the role having regard to the nature and ethos of the institution. For example, the religious studies teacher or a chaplain.

Another proposal that the ALRC has come out with is to say that religious schools must employ teachers who may not share or support the religious beliefs of the school. That employment, though, can be terminated if the teacher actively undermines the religious ethos of the school.

Yet even religious education teachers cannot be required to teach beliefs concerning sexual orientation, gender, identity, marital or relationship status, or pregnancy, in accordance with the religion of the school, unless such teachers are given the freedom to discuss with students alternative views about other lifestyles, other relationships, other sexualities.

It is worth noting that such strictures do not apply to a political body.

‘Conversion Therapy’

The second issue which we might discuss in more detail relates to suppression practices laws. These laws are being passed around the country. They started in Queensland and the ACT and Victoria, Tasmania will have a bill this year. It’s not clear where Western Australia is going; it said it was going to pull back a bit.

These laws are usually badged as “conversion therapy” laws, but they run much more broadly than that. For example, in Victoria, suppression practice is defined as any practice or conduct that includes a conversation directed towards a person, regardless of the person’s consent: that they have asked for the conversation or asked for the counselling is utterly irrelevant.

Conduct has to be in relation to the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and it has to be for the purpose of changing or suppressing that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or inducing the person to change or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity.

So, in any discussion – with a group of young people or old people doesn’t matter – where you say, this is our understanding of God’s will for your sexual identity or sexual orientation or your gender, you are at risk of being accused of inducing a person to change or to suppress their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The legislation is not fully explicit in saying that that practice can include religious practice, such as praying with someone, or exorcism or referring someone on to a counsellor or a psychiatrist or psychologist.

The legislation is so broad that it causes concerns about what can be said in sermons, in Bible studies, in discussions; when working with youth, youth pastors; and what teachers or a student welfare officer in a school can say.

We have already seen an example of the consequences in Tasmania. Under Section 17 of the state’s Anti-discrimination Act, a person must not engage in conduct that offends humiliates or intimidates, insults or ridicules another person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual activity in circumstances in which a reasonable person would have anticipated that the other person would be offended, humiliated, intimidated, etc.

A complaint was made under this provision against Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous when he approved the distribution of a publication produced by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Don’t Mess with Marriage. The complaint was withdrawn subsequently.

Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia currently have recommendations to government to introduce laws like this, which are called, in shorthand, harms-based speech laws.

Interactivity of Laws

How might these three types of laws interact? Let’s say you are at a school and you are saying to someone, that this type of expression of sexuality, sexual relations, sexual activity is not in accordance with the beliefs or ethos of the school.

Someone might come by and say, well, you are inducing me to change or suppress my sexual orientation or gender identity. You can say, no, there was no inducing of anyone to suppress or change.

Then might come the accusation, you are discriminating against me on the basis of my lawful sexual activity, sex orientation or gender identity. Then the exemptions or balancing provisions under anti-discrimination law would come into play in your defence.

A third possible scenario is that someone might say, “I just heard in chapel or in religious studies class about the teachings of the religion on sexual orientation or on what is appropriate sexual practice or on gender identity, and that a reasonable person would have thought that that would offend or humiliate or insult me because of my sexual practices or sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Now, none of this is to say that anybody should be insensitive towards young people in particular or anybody in this regard. It is to say that the law is intruding in at least these three ways very substantially into the freedom that religious schools and colleges and religious bodies have to express, both in word and in conduct, appropriate conduct rules for members, for students, for staff, and to express the religious teachings of the organisation as they relate to sexual activity, sexual orientation and gender identity.


Originally published at News Weekly. Photo by Sora Shimazaki.

Thank the Source

Major Doctors’ Organization Publicly Embraces Dismembering Babies Until Birth

A majority of Americans, 7 in 10, according to a recent poll, want significant limits on abortion, but the nation’s second-largest physician group is officially embracing Democrats’ abortion-on-demand talking points following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision allowing states more freedom to set abortion law.

In its latest policy brief, the American College of Physicians (ACP) announced its official stance on abortion is that “individuals have the right to make their own decisions, in partnership with their physician or health care professional” without legal consequences.

The ACP also used the brief, which was designed to “expand” on the organization’s 2018 policy, to formally condemn life-saving pro-life laws for banning the barbaric practice of in-utero dismemberment abortion and punishing anyone who illegally ends unborn lives. The ACP declined to immediately respond to The Federalist’s questions about whether the organization believes in any limits on abortion “given the tight turnaround.”

The language in the policy, however, is clear that the ability to continue living outside a mother’s womb is no longer the standard to use when determining limits on abortion because it “means different things to different people and health systems.”

“Each pregnancy is different, and a viability determination can only be made on a case-by-case basis between a physician and their pregnant patient,” the ACP brief states. Even if viability is universally determined by physicians instead of legislators, as the organization demands, the ACP still says it “is a deficient public policy standard for the legal regulation of abortion.”

Instead, the ACP says every woman should be able to get an abortion, travel to get an abortion outside of her pro-life state, and receive fatal abortion drugs in her mail “without undue government interference.” In fact, the ACP wants policymakers to “explore ways to support people who need assistance to be able to travel to obtain reproductive health care services due to a lack of available services in their region.”

Any effort to criminalize the ending of unborn lives the ACP condemns as a “threat to patient access to care and physician practice of medicine” that infringes on the network’s commitment to providing “equitable care.” It’s unclear whether the ACP will force out pro-life physicians who disagree with this extremist policy.

Just last month, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists banned pro-life doctors from sharing science-based information about life in the womb at their annual conference. In response, four Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, formally asked their colleagues in Congress to decline meeting with ACOG unless the organization reverses its decision.

“As Members of Congress, we call on ACOG to end its discrimination against pro-life doctors, and we will press for immediate changes to this unacceptable behavior—whether that means taking ACOG to task in meetings or refusing meetings until they change course—and encourage other Members to do the same,” the legislators wrote.

Jordan Boyd is a staff writer at The Federalist and co-producer of The Federalist Radio Hour. Her work has also been featured in The Daily Wire, Fox News, and RealClearPolitics. Jordan graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @jordanboydtx.


Why Howard Government Refused to Say Sorry to Indigenous Australians

The Howard Government refused to issue an apology to Indigenous Australians in 2002 despite recommendations in a milestone report, primarily because it would have implied present-day generations were responsible for atrocities to generations of the past.

In cabinet minutes from 2002 released by the National Archives, the then-Coalition government agreed it would not issue any kind of apology or pursue a treaty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

However, Cabinet did cautiously endorse an “acknowledgment of the special place of Indigenous people in the life and history of Australia” on certain occasions such as citizenship ceremonies, marking the first step towards the Acknowledgment and Welcome to Country that would become commonplace within coming decades.

Unwarranted Division

Fears that present-day Australians would be held responsible for atrocities of the past were behind the Howard government’s refusal to apologise to Indigenous Australians in 2002. Mr Ruddock told Cabinet that it should reject all recommendations dealing with a treaty and an apology.

“The government’s position on calls for an apology for the past treatment of Indigenous people is that it would be inappropriate to do so as it could imply that present generations are in some way responsible and accountable for the actions of earlier generations,” he said in his submission to Cabinet.

“The government’s position on calls for a treaty between Indigenous and other Australians is that to pursue such negotiations would be divisive, contrary to the concept of Australia as a single nation, could create legal uncertainty and that a treaty will not solve the critical issues facing Indigenous Australians.”

Mr Ruddock admitted the rejection of the recommendations would draw criticism, but that this would be nothing new to the Howard government. “The response is likely to be criticised as not committing to a national apology or negotiation of a treaty, but this criticism will not be new as the government’s position on these issues is already well known,” he said.


An apology to Indigenous Australians would be made by the Rudd government in 2008, despite members of the Coalition, including its current leader, Peter Dutton, voting against such a move. Since becoming opposition leader following the May election, Mr Dutton conceded he was wrong not to support the apology.

While refusing to support many of the recommendations in the report, Mr Ruddock backed the incorporation of “reconciliation values” in Commonwealth ceremonies. However, he noted such a move would need to be done gradually.

“The implementation of any such initiative could be gradual as changes to some ceremonies and protocols would require only administrative action, while others may involve changes to regulation,” he said. “I propose that the implications and feasibility of implementing changes to ceremonies identified be addressed by a limited life interdepartmental committee.”

Cabinet endorsed Mr Ruddock’s submission, which included the rejection of a preamble in the constitution that would recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as “the first peoples of Australia” and the refusal to enshrine Indigenous rights in a formal bill of rights. Instead, Cabinet noted that “the best guarantee of fundamental human rights is Australia’s vigorous and open political system, an incorruptible judicial system and a free press”.


In separate cabinet documents, the Howard government canvassed efforts to water down a draft declaration on the rights of Indigenous people being proposed by the United Nations, and to strip the phrase “self-determination” from such a document.

Self-determination was controversial at the time because “it has no settled meaning and can imply the establishment of separate nations or separate laws”, with Australia working bilaterally with Canada in particular to seek an alternative to such language in the UN declaration.

The move foreshadowed Australia’s refusal to sign the final declaration, along with Canada, New Zealand and the US, despite more than 140 countries doing so. It came just months before Kevin Rudd was elected in December 2007, with Australia eventually signing the declaration in 2009.


Cabinet documents also revealed the agreement to Mr Ruddock’s recommendation for a review into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, established by the Hawke government in 1990. Intended to be a body to give Indigenous people a say in policies affecting their lives, it came under criticism in following years, particularly for promoting the concept of self-determination.

Cabinet agreed a “small team” would investigate the role and “underlying issues” of ATSIC, which had not undergone a comprehensive review in its 12 years of operation. “ATSIC has evolved from an organisation focusing on delivering Commonwealth programs to Indigenous people and providing Indigenous policy advice to government, to a body more concerned with advocating Indigenous views on a range of issues and promoting a ‘rights’ agenda,” Mr Ruddock said in a submission to cabinet.

The proportion of Indigenous people who voted at ATSIC elections never exceeded a third of eligible voters and had been “falling marginally” since 1993, Mr Ruddock noted. “If ATSIC were seen as more relevant among Indigenous people in general, increases in the voter participation rate could be reasonably expected,” he said.

Rather than a “full-scale public assessment” by a high-ranking individual or group that would entail submissions and hearings, Mr Ruddock recommended a “lower profile process” with a small team agreed to by the prime minister that would talk to the ATSIC board and relevant parties before drafting a discussion paper for stakeholders.

ATSIC would be dissolved within three years of the review being triggered, with no replacement body announced until two decades later, when the Albanese government declared it would enshrine a voice to parliament by the end of 2023.


Originally published at Australian Prayer Network. Image: Batchelor Press/Wikimedia Commons

Thank the Source

Censorship: A Threat to Public Health and Safety?

Across Australia, healthcare professionals are subject to government censorship regarding the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, under the very real threat of losing their employment if they dare to speak out.

Practitioners are the bulwark between people, weak or corrupt leaders, captured authorities, and powerful vested interests. This bulwark is being slowly dismantled through severe censure, and punishment, posing a serious threat to public health and safety. Practitioners who dutifully use their intellectual freedom and right to political communication to speak what they believe in defence of patients and the public find it costs them their entire career.

Censoring the medical frontline during this pandemic as a means to create confidence in government public health messaging and combat vaccine hesitancy is proving to be a very grave error indeed. In the name of ‘keeping us safe’, authorities silenced doctors and partnered with Big Tech to withhold and control information. As they say, a terrified and deceived public is a compliant public.

In contradiction to our pandemic preparedness plans, the frontline was censored: denying every Australian fully informed valid consent. This apparent unconstitutional threat to medicos made by AHPRA and national boards on 9 March 2021 poses, in my opinion, a continuing risk to public health and safety. Unelected medical bureaucrats refuse to discuss the secret health advice, and also refuse to allow open scientific discourse. This is extremely odd behaviour.

Sacred Duty

If evidence shows government Covid public health policy is causing an iatrogenic catastrophe rather than a measurable benefit, doctors and nurses have a moral, legal, and scientific duty to warn people. National and international laws, agreements, and regulations from Nuremberg to the Health Practitioners Regulation National Law reinforce the duty of physicians to serve humanity and to first do no harm.

If policy created at the ‘speed of science’ appears to be neither safe nor effective, the community expects protective action. Doctors must be permitted to use their constitutional right of intellectual freedom and political communication to save lives even from state-sanctioned policies. This is clearly outlined in the recent Ridd vs James Cook University High Court case;

‘Intellectual freedom plays “an important ethical role not just in the lives of the few people it protects, but in the life of the community more generally” to ensure the primacy of individual conviction: “not to profess what one believes to be false” and “a duty to speak out for what one believes to be true”.’

And the Nuremberg code deals with,

‘… The principle of voluntary informed consent protects the right of the individual to control his own body.

‘This code also recognises that the risk must be weighed against the expected benefit, and that unnecessary pain and suffering must be avoided.

‘This code recognises that doctors should avoid actions that injure human patients.’

Eroding Trust, Exacerbating Suffering

High court precedence and international bioethical declarations have been trashed by national boards and AHPRA, who have made unquestioning compliance to government public health messaging the new accepted standard of good medical practice. Evidence-based medicine, informed consent and bodily autonomy have been undermined to the point where practitioners are now seen by many as a mere enforcement arm of government propaganda. It is no coincidence that trust in our institutions and the medical professions appear to have died suddenly.

What has unfolded over the last few years is what Professor Jay Bhattacharya called ‘the greatest public health mistake in human history’. The medical misinformation that has characterised the Covid pandemic is unparalleled. For a disease with a highly stratified median infection fatality rate of 0.05 per cent in 2020, similar to the seasonal flu, with healthy children having a statistically 0 per cent risk, we locked down the country and much of the world, casting about 150 million people into extreme poverty.

On flawed modelling governments forced quarantine, separated families, let people die alone, impaired child development, closed businesses, shot their own people with rubber bullets, amassed generational debt, and made livelihood conditional on submitting to participation in what former Health Minister Greg Hunt called the world’s largest clinical trial.

Governments in cahoots with medical authorities supported the mandating of potentially dangerous experimental novel gene-based countermeasures, that were never tested for transmission, with a less than 1 per cent absolute risk reduction that were not tested for genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, or reproductive toxicity, with literally zero long-term safety data. All while indemnifying manufacturers in secret contracts, reducing legislative safety and efficacy requirements, silencing doctors, and banning early treatments that showed great promise. All of this was supported by AHPRA and the national boards’ silencing of health professionals for our ‘safety’.

We have witnessed a never-ending stream of manipulated data, politically based medicine, behavioural nudge units, and secret health advice maintained by intense censorship, suppression, and reprisal. The ultimate goal, it seems, was to terrify the populace so they would submit to a coercive global vaccination campaign. We continue to witness what Dr Aseem Malhotra describes as ‘the greatest miscarriage of medical science we will witness in our lifetime’. Medical ethics, the precautionary principle, due diligence, and transparency are now concepts relegated to historical fiction rather than time-honoured codes.

Upholding the Official Narrative At All Costs

Today, according to medical regulators, raising safety concerns through data and evidence is not considered a moral professional obligation, but unprofessional bullying and harassment that requires either re-education or immediate suspension of one’s registration to practise.

When data does not support the government narrative, the apparent correct response regulators expect from practitioners is to stay silent while authorities simply stop reporting it, as demonstrated recently by NSW Health. Can’t have the truth getting in the way of a good public health crisis… It seems stating facts is now considered professional misconduct because it might demonstrate a failure of government policy and undermine confidence in the ‘message’.

During the time of Covid, we have witnessed the destruction of bioethics and human rights by the very authorities and institutions entrusted to uphold them. This system abuse has resulted in policies that have caused harm. Exactly how much harm is yet to be revealed. Increasing all-cause mortality, serious adverse reactions, and declining birth rates commensurate with the vaccine rollout are not painting a pretty picture. A recent Rasmussen report showed ‘more than 1-in-4 think someone they know died from Covid Vaccines’. How much longer before the number of coincidences makes the ‘safe and effective’ mantra impossible to believe?

There are doctors and scientists across the country trying to raise safety signals, seeking answers to questions, writing letters, applying for FOIs, and sending reports as they fight to fulfil their codes and oaths. They are heroes, great lights in this nightmare, sacrificing careers and livelihoods to adhere to time-honoured codes and ethics.

We need real debate, open scientific discourse, acknowledgement of injuries, and access to unredacted data. For our medical authorities and political leaders to continue to enforce censorship in the face of possibly the greatest public health mistake in human history, an iatrogenic miscarriage of medical science causing untold harm, shows a reckless indifference to the sufferings of Australians.

The curtailment of practitioners’ intellectual freedom and political communication, by AHPRA and National Boards, appears to be in breach of the constitution, professional codes, and international ethical declarations. The current enforced censorship has undermined confidence in public health and continues to pose a serious threat to public health and safety. Censorship kills confidence, destroys trust, costs lives, and it must stop.


Originally published at The Spectator Australia.
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch.

Thank the Source

Falsely Accused Nicaraguan Bishop Chooses Prison Over US Exile

A Nicaraguan bishop falsely accused of “spreading fake news” has chosen life in prison over exile in the United States.

Rolando Álvarez, a vocal opponent of Nicaragua’s socialist President Daniel Ortego, was sentenced on Friday to 26 years in gaol, after being “tried” for “treason”.

Totalitarian Lawfare

Álvarez was convicted using “anti-treason” laws, weaponised by Ortego in 2021.

The changes opened the door for the far-left leader to prosecute and imprison political opponents as “domestic terrorists.”

Vaguely worded, the anti-treason legislation leans on the essence of subjective terms like “hate speech” and “inciting hatred” to suppress dissent.

Out of 46 opposition members arrested in the early months of 2022, 25 are still serving lengthy gaol terms.

Álvarez was arrested later that year.

Recounting the case, Catholic News Agency said that Álvarez was sentenced after ‘refusing to get on the plane with 222 other political prisoners the dictatorship was deporting to the United States.’

According to the ruling, the bishop’s alleged crimes were,

‘Undermining national security and sovereignty.
Spreading fake news through information technology.
Obstructing an official in the performance of his duties,
and aggravated disobedience or contempt of authority.’

Authorities also ruled Álvarez’s actions to be a ‘detriment to society’, declaring him a ‘traitor to the country.’

In addition, Álvarez was fined an 800-day tax and stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship.

State vs Church

Addressing the nation, Ortega labelled the political prisoners “criminal mercenaries” working for “foreign powers.”

El Presidente’s resentment of the apparently incorruptible Catholic bishop stems from 2018.

Breaking its neutrality, the Catholic church provided sanctuary to wounded protesters being hunted down by the gun-toting Sandinista socialists in 2018.

Displeased by the Church refusing to hand over wounded students, Ortega retaliated, accusing clergy of working for the US government.

Rolando Álvarez’s imprisonment coincides with the sentencing of four priests, days before his own conviction.

Ramiro Tijerino, José Luis Díaz, Sadiel Eugarrios and Raúl Vega González were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for the same manufactured crime of “hate-against-the-state.’

Human Rights Abuses

Nicaragua isn’t the first country to suffer from an overzealous bureaucracy turning freedom of speech into a form of violence against the state.

Bishop Rolando Álvarez joins a growing number of political prisoners around the world who have been falsely detained under “spreading misinformation”, “hate speech”, or “inciting hatred”.

Iran, India, Pakistan, China, North Korea, and Egypt already imprison people for “insults”.

Through a loose application of the ‘war on terror’, “hate speech” against the state is easily branded as “treason.”

65-year-old Egyptian Mohamed Monir was arrested after appearing on Al Jazeera in 2020.

Egyptian authorities who arrested Monir alleged he was ‘spreading fake news, had joined a terrorist group, and was misusing social media.’

The journalist later died in isolation.

Enter Ramy Kamel.

He spent two years in solitary for raising concerns about the mistreatment of Coptic Christians.

His “misinformation” incarceration was based on vague charges and zero evidence.

Laws built on feelings are easy to break.

This kind of slippery legislation doesn’t need evidence-based reasoning to secure a conviction.

In the West

Of importance, the equating of reasoned criticism with violence, and by extension “domestic terrorism”, is being played out in the West as we speak.

“Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” (EDI) policing is one area. Another is “Environmental Social Governance” (ESG).

As are Critical Race Theory (CRT) and LGBTQAA+’s toxic “oppressor and oppressed” subjective intersectionality divisions (identity politics).

Digging deeper, EDI, ESG, CRT, LGBTQAA+isms, are nothing more than “safe space” Trojan horses for permitting the abuse of power.

Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega isn’t the only bureaucrat bullying those he claims to represent.

For example, in the United Kingdom, policing now includes arresting people for breaching soft-totalitarian safetyism laws on social media.

The bottom line is, bad laws lead to bad government.

Vague terms such as “hate speech” and “inciting hatred” are powerful excuses for the intentional overthrow of the people by the State.


Photo: Diócesis de Matagalpa via Aleteia

Thank the Source

Nicaraguan Priests Sentenced to 10 Years for Dissent

Socialism in Nicaragua strikes again, sentencing four Catholic priests to prison for the alleged crimes of “treason” and spreading “fake news.”

‘Anti-treason’ laws, forced through congress by long-term Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega in 2021, have allowed the far-left extremist government to weaponise the judiciary against political opponents.

Human Rights Watch said that the law opens the door for the socialist regime to squash free speech and fair elections by boxing political opponents in as ‘traitors.’

Total Control

For Ortega’s regime, treason is, in sum, any word, or deed which seems to undermine the State.

Anything ‘deemed’ offensive to the State, by the State, is considered a crime against the State.

Speech or actions viewed as compromising the stability of Ortega’s socialist reign are denounced as “domestic terrorism.”

Among others, a traitor is vaguely considered to be any person:

  1. “Carrying out acts that undermine independence, sovereignty, and self-determination.”
  2. ‘Incites foreign interference in internal affairs, request military interventions.’
  3. ‘Demands, praises, and applauds the imposition of sanctions against Nicaragua and its citizens.’
  4. ‘And all those who damage the supreme interests of the nation recognised in its legal system.”

Conflating political opposition with “domestic terrorism,” the Ortega regime granted itself a carte blanche permit to imprison anyone it didn’t like.

Paraphrased, a “traitor” — as defined by the Nicaraguan Marxist dictatorship — is any person found to be voicing political opinions which differ from the approved political narrative.

Human Rights Watch rightly considers the law to be in breach of Article 25 of the UNHCR Conventions, to which Nicaragua is a signatory.

Article 25 recognises that ‘every citizen shall have right and opportunity to ‘partake in public affairs freely.’ To ‘vote, be elected, and express themselves freely’ in the political arena.

Communist Clampdown

The four Catholic priests are victims of Ortega’s version of “hate speech” laws.

Ramiro Tijerino, José Luis Díaz, Sadiel Eugarrios and Raúl Vega González were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment after a closed trial, where they were defended by a State-appointed lawyer.

Two seminary students, Darvin Leiva and Melkin Centeno, along with Sergio Cárdenas, a cameraman, were also tried, convicted, and sentenced.

Vatican News recounted that the men worked closely with outspoken Ortega critic Rolando Alvarez, the Bishop of Matagalpa, currently under house arrest.

CNA reported that Alvarez is being held on similar charges.

The bishop was arrested in August 2022, after being accused of ‘conspiracy to undermine state security and sovereignty’ as well as for “spreading fake news.”

Leaders in the European Catholic Commission of Bishops asserted that the accusations against the men were false, and said their convictions were politically motivated.

According to Breitbart, Alvarez was charged after Ortega’s wife (and Vice-President) Rosario Murillo ‘accused Álvarez of committing “sins against spirituality” by condemning the communist leadership of the country.’

Adding their voices to the widespread condemnation, Panama-based Central American human rights group OACNUDH declared,

“The jail sentences against six priests and a layman are incompatible with the right to freedom of expression.”

The group then called for their immediate release, asking the state to ‘respect those who express opinions against it.’

Speaking directly to Ortega weaponising “anti-treason laws” against his political opponents, they added that ‘criticism and dissent cannot be crimes.’

Of importance, the August 2022 arrest of Alvarez, among others, coincided with the Soviet-era Sandinistas war on Nicaragua’s churches.

Labelling clergy as terrorists, 76-year-old Ortega accused pastors of fostering domestic terrorism.

He then accused priests of “having no respect for Christ, nor God,” and in a rant quoting the Bible, asserted that the Church was in league with the Pharisees.

Observers have suggested Ortega’s repression of the Church primarily comes from bitterness over the clergy providing sanctuary and charity to wounded pro-Democracy protesters in 2018.


Photo: Bishop Rolando Álvarez in Matagalpa, Nicaragua prepares Aug. 4 for a Eucharistic procession, after he was barred by police officials from entering his diocesan chancery. Credit: Diocese of Matagalpa/Facebook.

Thank the Source

Pro-Life Events in February

This month, besides the Walk for Life in Adelaide on 11 February, pro-life supporters can look forward to the 2023 Gala for Life National Tour for Pregnancy Help Australia (PHA) in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth (on 18, 21 and 23 February respectively), and the Eva’s Place 10th Anniversary Life Fully Lived Gala Dinner on 25 February at the Cathedral Centre in Toowoomba.

The President of Heartbeat International, Jor-El Godsey, will be speaking at the gala dinners for Eva’s Place and PHA. Heartbeat International is a worldwide network of over 3,000 pregnancy centres.

Bridget Spinks, foundress of Gala for Life, says,

“I believe the most empowering thing a woman can do is birth her baby with courage and confidence. We need to do what we can to help vulnerable women in need be enabled to carry their pregnancy to term and start their family on their natural timeline.

We need to support pregnancy help centres on the frontlines as far as possible. This can be through awareness raising, telling our friends and if possible, perhaps becoming a monthly donor.

I believe it’s really important that we,  the pro-life movement, have the opportunity to fund the pregnancy help centres who meet women in need on the frontline. That’s why I’m organising the Gala for Life National Tour.”

Another keynote speaker for the Gala for Life is human rights activist Dr Joanna Howe, who has been making waves by calling out the bias in the media around the promotion of abortion as the empowering choice. She is a Professor of Law at the University of Adelaide and holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Law from the University of Oxford where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

For Joanna, abortion is the human rights challenge facing our generation. She is using social media to advocate for the innocent lives of the in-utero baby and the vulnerable women who need to know what abortion really does to their baby and their body.

Want to know what your ticket gets you?

The Gala for Life tickets are anywhere from $100-$120 depending on whether you buy a single adult/concession or group of ten.

Your ticket covers:

  • a delectable 3-course meal and maybe a drink or two
  • your seat in a high-end venue with spectacular learning and relaxing opportunities, and
  • a donation to Pregnancy Help Australia.

You’ll experience and witness:

  • fantastic keynote speeches from wonderful leaders in the life-affirming space,
  • a room full of like-minded, loving and life-affirming souls,
  • amazing jazz music.

Book now.

If you can’t attend, you can still donate to Pregnancy Help Australia, and put your values into action.


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich.

Thank the Source

Politics in the 21st Century and the Cost of Blind Loyalty to Class Values

An in-depth analysis of Australian politics during the last few decades of societal upheaval and economic woes. What values and principles guide our major parties?

In 1999, Australia conducted its largest taxpayer-funded focus group — the referendum on a republic.
Voting in the referendum was compulsory, with 95.1 per cent of Australians eligible to vote doing so.

By contrast, the 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey for which voting was optional had a 79.5 per cent participation rate.

The result of the republic referendum was a decisive 54.87 per cent ‘No’ vote.
Every state recorded a majority for ‘No’. This decisive result could not be explained in terms of party loyalties or ideological terms such as ‘Left’ and ‘Right’.

None of the major parties adopted an official position and analysis suggested that the results could be explained by where people lived. For example, in Victoria, the four electorates with the highest yes votes were Kooyong and Higgins, both safe Liberal, and Melbourne and Melbourne Ports (now McNamara), then both safe Labor. In Queensland only two electorates voted yes — Ryan which was safe Liberal, and Brisbane which was safe Labor.

A national analysis generated a similar picture. 42 of the then 148 electorates that voted ‘Yes’ were predominately in affluent, inner-metropolitan areas. The no-voting electorates in outer suburban and regional Coalition seats and Labor seats showed a comparable pattern.

The 1999 referendum result was a harbinger of what was to come globally. Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump and the inability of the French establishment to suppress the ‘gilets jaunes‘ (Yellow Vests) and Marine le Pen should not have come as a surprise.

In Australia, the results revealed the nature of the intellectual and political classes, who overwhelmingly inhabit the inner metropolitan suburbs. Also, they exposed a lack of awareness within the major political parties which could not accept that, in the post-communist world, Australia is two nations.

Consequently. almost a quarter of a century later, the 2022 federal election results form a bookend to that nationwide voter survey. Both Labor and the Coalition are now confronted starkly with an uncomfortable new political reality: a collapsing primary vote and an insurgence of Greens and various Independent MPs.

Two Nations and the 2004 federal elections

The Liberal Party’s subsequent drafting of Australian Republican Movement leader, Malcolm Turnbull — who blamed John Howard for ‘breaking the nation’s heart’ on the referendum — was a manifestation of the élites’ obstinacy.

Mr Turnbull, who has made a substantial contribution to the philosophical quagmire the Liberals have built for themselves, did not want to see it.

One politician who did though, was a prescient Mark Latham. Even before he became the leader of the Federal Labor Party, he made the following observation:

‘For the past decade, the Left has been debating globalisation as an economic event when, in fact, its main political impact has been cultural…

‘With the end of the Cold War, the effectiveness of this approach has expired. ‘A starting point is to rethink the political spectrum, to move beyond notions of Left and Right…

‘… it is possible to identify two distinctive political cultures in Australia. The powerful centre of our society, concentrated in the international heart of the major cities, talks a different language to suburban communities. In lifestyle and political values, they are poles apart.

‘At the social centre, people tend to take a tourist’s view of the world. They travel extensively, eat-out and buy-in domestic help. The cultural challenges of globalisation are seen as an opportunity, a chance to develop further one’s identity and information skills…

‘In the suburbs, the value set is more pragmatic. People do not readily accept the need for cultural change or the demands of identity politics. They lack the power and resources to distance themselves from neighbourhood problems. This has given them a resident’s view of society. Questions of social responsibility and service delivery are all-important…

‘These changes are recasting the electoral map. The key seats are now located well beyond the CBD, on the urban fringe and regional hinterland. In the 1999 Republic referendum… the further one moved away from the centre of the capital cities, the higher the proportion of No votes.

‘(T)he conservative establishment… purports to hold suburban values. Yet its members are unwilling to live or work in the suburbs themselves. It is another abstract ideology in search of substance.’1

Mr Howard managed these internal, philosophic contradictions by supporting conservative values on cultural issues, and by reducing the impact of free market policies on middle Australia through extensive financial support to families. These conflicting values also have been reducing the Nationals to a rump, especially after they went along with economic rationalism and Mr Howard’s gun law changes in 1996.
The 2004 federal election was both a first test of Mr Latham’s theory on culture and of his and John Howard’s ability to execute a political strategy in response.

As political commentator Paul Kelly observed at the beginning of 2004:

‘Latham knows that repositioning Labor on social issues is a necessary step to office…

‘This week Latham confronted Howard and sought to steal his social and family values position… It is about the struggle between Latham and Howard over values, a fight that Labor had previously declined to wage.’2

It was clear that the Coalition’s strategy for the 2004 federal election needed to have a major focus on culture.

Labor’s Re-invention

Back then, cultural contradictions were more of a problem for Labor. Since the rise of Gough Whitlam in the 1960s, it had morphed into a middle-class, inner-suburban party. Blue-collar membership3

‘made up 46 per cent of the NSW ALP’s membership in 1961. By 1981 the figure had fallen to 21 per cent. … white-collar professionals, managers and administrators… share of membership of the NSW branch doubled in the two decades to 1981, from 14 to 30 per cent. The pattern in the Victorian Party was similar. … The result was that by the late 1980s, ‘a professional [was] more than three times as likely as a manual worker, and five times more likely than a salesperson, personal service employee or clerk, to participate in the ALP’s most basic structures.’

This transformation of the membership was subsequently reflected in the parliamentary party. The late John Button, a Hawke Government minister, demonstrated this by his comparison of the difference between the compositions of the 1978 federal parliamentary party and the first Hawke ministry, and the composition of the 1998 parliamentary party.’4

  • Senator Graham Richardson’s total capitulation to the Greens in 1990;5
  • Labor premier Bob Carr’s virtually shutting down most of the timber industry in New South Wales in the 1990s;6 and
  • in 2004, Queensland ALP state director Cameron Milner’s call on Mr. Latham to sacrifice Tasmanian timber jobs in the pursuit of mainland, green votes;7

reflected this cultural takeover.


On the other hand, Mr Howard took a different path. A report on the 2004 federal election commissioned by the CFMEU’s timber workers’ division noted: ‘At the start of the election campaign, Mr Howard felt obliged to accept advice that he should appease the environment lobby because it was so overwhelming. He had a few concerns including the fact that he personally had signed Tasmania’s Regional Forest Agreement and the impact of his decision on timber workers and their communities.’8

However, a campaign coordinated by the timber industry persuaded him to ignore the advice coming from his office and from the Liberal Party’s pollster, and to honour the regional forest agreements.
As a result, in the last week of the campaign, Mr. Howard addressed a nationally-reported, 1000-strong timber industry meeting in Launceston and won over the votes of people such as timber worker Ken Hall who said:

‘I have come to believe that Howard is the best leader to represent the timber workers of Tasmania. And that’s a pretty big mouthful coming from a lifelong Labor supporter who first voted for Arthur Calwell in 1966 and has voted for every Labor leader in every election since then…’.9

Despite Mr Latham’s understanding of the electorate, in the critical last days of the 2004 campaign, he made a judgment call that went against his best political instincts.

On other issues, he remained better attuned. In February 2004, Mr Latham said that marriage was the union of a man and a woman for life to the exclusion of all others. The Coalition responded by introducing legislation to amend the Family Law Act to incorporate his definition of marriage.

The need to support the legislation split the Labor caucus. Mr Albanese and several other frontbenchers argued that Labor had gone too far in pandering to a group of Christians who were unlikely to vote for Labor, at the expense of the gay and lesbian community which supported Labor.10

Significantly, subsequent Labor leaders. Kim Beasley, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard maintained Mr. Latham’s position of opposing same-sex marriage until 2011.

This fracas within Labor reinforced to voters in the outer suburbs and regions that Labor lived in a different world from them, and helped consolidate conservative voters behind the Coalition.
Labor and the Greens were not the only challenges facing the Coalition. There also was the forerunner of the ‘teal’ candidates, Liberals for Forests.

However, unlike today, the Coalition did not adopt an appeasement approach. Inner metropolitan Liberal voters who were unhappy with the Coalition’s environment policies, were made aware that a vote for the Greens was a vote for their economic policies and their radical drug policy. This policy was exposed in the first week of the election campaign.11 It derailed the Greens and contributed to their poor result.

The 2004 federal elections were probably John Howard’s greatest electoral victory. The Coalition increased its majority and, in Queensland, it won four of the six Senate positions, giving a government a Senate majority for the first time in decades.

Labor lost five seats, after losing three in 2001. Political scientist, Associate Professor Paul Williams, pointed out that its primary vote was its lowest since 1931 and arguably the lowest since 1906.12 Liberals for Forests flopped and, as Age columnist Shaun Carney wrote, the results were disastrous for the Greens.13

Labor and the political commentariat attempted to put the results down to Mr Latham’s inexperience and an interest rate scare campaign.14

However, long-time Labor Party pollster Rod Cameron saw it differently:

‘Most experienced observers — from both sides of politics — expected John Howard to be returned, but narrowly, with most tipping a small net gain in seats and votes for Labor. That this did not happen was a big surprise to the campaign professionals on both sides… Howard won because of economic management perceptions and he increased his majority because of Labor’s politically suicidal Tasmanian forestry policy’.15

It should be recalled that, as recently as 1993, Labor had won as many provincial and rural seats as it did outer-metropolitan seats. However, in 2004 Labor won 14 of the 63 provincial and rural seats and 19 of the 46 outer metropolitan seats.

Political commentator Professor Peter van Onselen and management consultant Dr. Phil Senior concluded:

‘Labor can’t (win back regional seats) while the party is controlled by the inner-city latte set…(I)t has lost touch with its working-class roots in the bush as well as outer-metropolitan areas. Its grubby preference deal with the Greens was the culmination of this transformation. Selling out forestry workers to win over inner-city greens not only lost Labor seats in Tasmania, but respect across provincial and rural Australia.’16

The Political Class

Again, this was not the message the élites and the political class wanted to hear or had expected, as Mr Cameron pointed out. They remained unrepentant in their determination to impose their values on what they view as the unenlightened masses.

They resent the democratic process and reflect the arrogance of the élites described by an American historian the late Professor Christopher Lasch:

‘The culture wars that have convulsed America since the sixties are best understood as a form of class warfare, in which an enlightened elite (as it thinks of itself) seeks not so much to impose its values on the majority (a majority perceived as incorrigibly racist, sexist, provincial, and xenophobic), much less persuade the majority by means of rational public debate, as to create parallel or “alternative” institutions in which it will no longer be necessary to confront the unenlightened at all.’17

Mr Latham’s analysis was right. For the Liberals, suburban values were another abstract ideology in search of substance. Everybody continued on and nobody lost their job. The Liberals’ political class continued to put its inner suburban values ahead of both the Party’s interests and the people they say they represent.

The Coalition has not hammered home the cultural advantage it had gained. Instead, it has taken the same direction as Labor, and today it is paying the price.

Meanwhile, the Greens are well-advanced in their long march to be the party of the inner metropolitan suburbs. This is at the expense of Liberal and Labor, which have not done to the Greens what they did to Pauline Hanson — both put her party last on ballot papers.

The Philosophical Divide

In 2004, political commentator Paul Kelly observed:18

‘The conundrum is obvious: the chasm between party sentiment and public sentiment. The ALP is unrepresentative of the community. The more Latham concedes to the party, the more he weakens his hand in the electorate.’

The origins of the cultural transformation Mr Latham described require an understanding of the philosophic contest between liberalism and conservatism which has ebbed and flowed since the days of the French Revolution and America’s declaration of independence. It took 200 years for liberalism to dominate conservatism culturally in Anglo-Saxon and, to a lesser degree, western European countries. Its ascendancy was heralded by the cultural revolution of the 1960s.

One example of this ascendancy in Australia is the employers’ successful assault on the concept of the basic wage beginning in 1964, the outcome of which was foreseeable and foreseen.19 Its effect was to undermine the family unit.

Another was removing in 1975 the concept of fault from Australia’s divorce law and transforming marriage from a permanent relationship into what has been described as serial monogamy. Supporters of this change saw the family unit as an instrument for the suppression of women, and a barrier to personal freedom and self-fulfillment.

‘Card-carrying member of the protest generation’ and Australia Institute founder Dr Keith Hamilton,
‘was convinced that the lifting of the suffocating constraints on sexual expression would be a source of liberation… We thought we were creating a new society and we knew our opponents were being defeated. The conservative establishment lost cause after cause…’20

Coalition’s Reprieve

Given the incompatibility of conservatism and liberalism, why did it take so long for the ascendancy of philosophical liberalism to extract a political price?

One response is that, from the end of World War 2 to the 1990s, politics in Australia, and the Western world generally, was viewed through the prism of communism, socialism and the extent to which it is necessary for the State to intervene in the economy. For example, in 1967, twelve months after his retirement Sir Robert Menzies wrote that ‘the great issue to which Liberalism must direct itself is Socialism’.21

By the time the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, Marxism as an economic theory was discredited. For example, the Labor Party had watered down the socialist objective in its Party platform in 1981.

For the Liberals, however, the focus on socialism diverted attention away from the fundamental incompatibility of conservatism with liberalism.

Two things aided the delay of the day of reckoning for the Liberals: Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s rejection of the liberal agenda of his treasurer John Howard and the Queensland National Party Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s carrying his fight against the Liberals to Canberra.

As for Labor, the Left had always provided the Party’s ideological rudder. Its acquiescence to economic liberalism destroyed that rudder. In 2008, Wran Government education minister Rod Cavalier told a NSW Fabian Society Forum that one could not be a left-winger and not pursue the socialist objective and that being humanitarian did not make one a left-winger.22

It seems counter-intuitive that economic rationalism would penetrate the walls of Labor. This development demonstrates that the real winner of the 1960s revolution has been corporate capitalism.

As Dr Hamilton observed,

‘(T)he counter-culture tore down the social structures of conservatism that, for all their stultifying oppressiveness, held the market in check… but it is now evident that demolition of the customary social structures did not create a society of free individuals. Instead, it created an opportunity for the marketers to substitute material consumption and manufactured lifestyles for the influences of social tradition…

The women’s movement attacked the social and family conventions that kept women in the kitchen. … but it also conditioned the labour market to operate on the assumption that workers had family responsibilities. … When workers demanded a ‘living wage that could sustain a married man and his wife and children, the moral argument had wide appeal…

‘Equality is good for the market. It has meant a growing and better-qualified workforce; it has destroyed old-fashioned ideas that employers need to pay enough to support a family; it has helped turn nurturing households into nodes of consumption; it has hastened the development of lifestyle thinking.’23

Traditional Labor is conservative. Its instincts and values are at odds with Labor’s current ruling class. A takeover by economic liberalism has taken a political toll. In 1998, then Deputy Leader Gareth Evans admitted that:

‘I think we are now all acutely aware that the government almost certainly got ahead of the wider community… Jobs were no longer for life or secure. … The rise of service industries at the expense of the smokestacks may have created a more fluid and flexible workplace, but one affecting working hours and family responsibilities. Agribusiness pressures and the closure of family farms put many rural communities under stress.

‘… Upper-income groups by and large did well in Australia … enjoying high-quality access not only to continuing substantial incomes, but to information technology and communications services; to leisure amenities, entertaining and travel; and indeed to the political system.

‘… For lower income groups, it was a different story: wage incomes grew slowly, and even with an array of new government social wage payments, which in fact did make lower income earners better off, both absolutely and relatively, they found it difficult to think of themselves as better off. And they could never match the access of the upper-income groups to information technology, to leisure services, to the political system – or even to some aspects of consumer society.’24

Yet, while Labor has known since 1998 that economic liberalism contained the seeds of its political heartache, it still has the Hawke/Keating era on a pedestal.

As with the Liberals, the loyalty of Labor’s political class to the cultural values of their social set has outweighed the interests of the people they purported to represent and the political interests of their party. To quote Mr Cavalier,

‘The political class is a coterie… divisions are not about ideas or ideology. The factions have become executive placement agencies, disputes between them become serious only when they cannot agree on a placement. They are effectively united for themselves against the world.’25

The Political Price

Many would argue that Labor has not recovered from its lost legacy of a commitment to the working class. Certainly it has won elections at the state level, and it won the 2022 federal election barely, with a first preference vote in the House of Representatives of 32.6 per cent and in the Senate of 30.1 per cent.

What has Labor’s dumping of its traditional supporters by succumbing to liberalism, and the Left’s substituting ‘gesture politics’ — as Mr Cavalier would describe it — done for the Labor Party?

Labor, now an inner metropolitan, middle-class party, has alienated itself from its original base which it still needs to get hold of the ministerial limousines. It also has lowered its defences against the Greens, a development of which it should have been aware since 2007.26

As for the consequences for the people Labor claims to represent, the following charts produced by financial commentator Alan Kohler provide the conclusion of Mr Evans’ story. They show the housing prices and borrowings and the banks’ lending profile since Paul Keating’s deregulation agenda which John Howard supported.27

While the median buffer for mortgage payments for home borrowers is 21 months, Mr Kohler points out that the median is meaningless because 2½ million families are in the 25th percentile and do not have a buffer.

Mr Kohler thinks that the next housing downturn will be more severe than previous downturns because of the level of debt, an assessment consistent with the analysis of CoreLogic, Australia’s largest, independent provider of property data and analytics.28

Banks have transformed themselves from being lenders to business, which Mr Kohler points out employs people and creates wealth, to lenders to housing which does not, but which is safer and more profitable.

Turning to profits, the Commonwealth Bank celebrated its 25th year as a public company in 2016. It said that it had delivered a total shareholder return of 9500 per cent and achieved average annual dividend growth of 10 per cent.

Fast forward five years to 21 May last year. On that day, 18 CBA shares were worth $1780 — a gain of more than 1700 per cent since listing in 1991. On the other hand, over the same period the S&P/ASX 200 index increased by 325 per cent and the price of a median Sydney house increased 11-fold.29

Broad Church

While the Liberals appeared to be unaffected by the changing philosophical challenge in the 1990s, there were tensions following the federal defeats in 1990, and particularly in 1993 when John Hewson’s liberal, economic agenda turned victory into defeat.

Party leaders were conscious that the end of communism threatened to expose internal, philosophical differences and render the Liberals irrelevant as a political entity.

A rationale was needed to avoid doing what Sir Robert Menzies did in the 1940s when the United Australia Party had run its race — start again.

In one approach, former NSW premier Nick Greiner argued in 1990 that:

  • it was a post-ideological age;
  • modern Liberalism (i.e. the Liberal Party) needed to be practical, empirical and anti-ideological; and
  • ironically, Liberalism must be concerned with the re-design and reconstruction of any of Australia’s institutions which are outdated, outmoded or not working in the public interest.30

Another approach sought to: erase any suggestion of a connection between the Liberal Party and conservatism, and rebrand Sir Robert Menzies as a philosophical liberal.

Both propositions failed the pub test.

John Howard provided a solution by promoting the concept of a broad church: liberalism and conservatism could co-exist.31

Professor Gregory Melleuish observed:

‘This formulation was vague enough to encompass a range of political positions, even if they were at odds with one another.

‘The “broad church” ideal had a simple goal — ensure that all Liberals were inside the tent and shared a common outlook.’32

Mr Howard achieved his goal. The Liberals federally remained inside the tent until after he retired. However, they demonstrated Professor Lasch’s contention that ‘the defence of conservative values, it appears, cannot be entrusted to conservatives’.33

Since Mr Howard’s retirement, nobody has had the authority and the capability to hold this philosophical façade together, and so it has unravelled as the social toll of economic liberalism has eroded the last vestige of conservative values.

What Now?

Antony Green, a psephologist and elections commentator, has noted that the combined first preference vote for the Coalition and Labor in the House of Representatives at the 2022 federal election at 68. 3 per cent was the lowest for the major parties since the development of two-party politics in Australia in 1910.

This raises a number of questions:

  • What does the political class do now that it seems to matter that voters are rebelling against the fact that the major parties think that they can be different things to different people?
  • Does it matter that voters in the outer suburbs and regions believe that neither of the major parties shares their priorities, or understands their aspirations and the grind of daily life?
  • If values are not important to people in the outer suburbs and the regions, why do they resent the political class’s delivering to the inner suburbs the policies and values they want, and thinking that they only have to bribe the outer suburbs and regions?

In 1989 two American scholars, Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck conducted an analysis of the Democrats’ poor performances in presidential elections over the preceding 20 years. It made a significant contribution to the success of the Democrats during the Clinton era in the 1990s.

This year they repeated the exercise. One ‘myth’ that they addressed is that economics trumps culture:

‘The Democratic party has viewed itself as the party of working-class and middle-class voters who would be bound to the party by economic and material benefits…

‘Too many Democrats believe that economic issues are the ‘real’ issues, and that cultural issues are mostly diversions… For many Americans across the political spectrum, social, cultural and religious issues are real and — in many cases — more important to them than economic considerations

… Economic circumstances do not determine views on guns, abortion, or religion, and attitudes toward immigration reflect deep-seated beliefs about ethnicity and national identity… ‘

‘The myth of economic determinism…. leads too many Democrats to believe that showering Americans with public resources is the surest path to victory. This is true in some circumstances but not others.’34

In Australia, it seems the Coalition and the Labor Party believe that too.

Liberalism and Conservatism

The proposition that economics does not override culture is critical for philosophic liberals who claim to be conservatives.

Mr Howard’s proposition that liberalism and conservatism can co-exist depends on their concept of conservatism. He contended that Liberals carried:

‘the Burkean tradition of conservatism within our ranks. We believe that if institutions have demonstrably failed, they ought to be changed or reformed. But we don’t believe in getting rid of institutions just for the sake of change.’35

Edmund Burke, an 18th-century statesman, is considered to be the founder of conservatism. However, Mr Burke’s focus extended beyond organisational structures.

For him, the group is the foundation of society — as reflected in these propositions:36

  • ‘To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind’;
  • ‘We begin our public affections in our families. No cold relation is a zealous citizen. We pass on to our neighbourhoods, and our habitual provincial connexions’; and
  • Society ‘becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born’.

On the other hand, the founder of liberalism, Jean Jacques Rousseau, who was the intellectual force behind the French Revolution and a significant intellectual influence on the American Revolution believed that ‘Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains’.37

The chains are imposed by Mr. Burke’s little platoons, civilisation itself, property, organised religion and anything that corrupts the individual’s natural state:

‘The fundamental principle of all morality, upon which I have reasoned in all my writings and which I developed with all the clarity of which I am capable is that man is a being who is naturally good, loving justice and order; that there is no original perversity in the human heart, and the first movements of nature are always good.’38

For M. Rousseau feelings were pure. Feelings inform the conscience and conscience determines morality. Truth is subjective. There are no absolutes.

Also, there are no social structures. To quote former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher who is lauded as a conservative, ‘There is no such thing as society’.39

Individualism has been modified and transformed through subsequent generations. Today, in the culture of the self-appointed élites, M. Rousseau’s legacy is a culture based on feelings to which facts must give way.

Self-identity is a result of this evolution and, with it, the ability to assert that there are seventy-four genders and that children as young as eight years old could experience a gender crisis.40


The Liberals are compromised in attempting to respond to this latest manifestation of liberalism, because of their either straddling the gulf between liberalism and conservatism or choosing liberalism over conservatism when forced to make a choice.

This is evident around ‘gender’, religious freedom and freedom of speech issues. For example, in June this year, the International Swimming Union effectively banned transgender swimmers from competing in women’s events.

The Liberals were compromised on this issue already. Their loud — though somewhat inconsistent — support of such a ban during the election campaign was undermined by the fact that, in 2019, during a Coalition administration, the Australian Sports Commission was in the forefront of urging the participation of transgender people in competitive sport.41

Then there is the recent matter of ‘birthing mothers’.

Medicare was set to change a consent form to add a baby to a Medicare card to use the term ‘birthing parent’ instead of ‘mother’. After a social media outcry,42 a Labor minister, Government Services minister, Bill Shorten put a stop to this frolic, pointing out that he was reversing an initiative of the previous Coalition government.

This led Herald Sun columnist Rita Panahi to say (presumably to the surprise of Coalition supporters):

‘Bravo, Bill. It says something about how hopeless the faux conservatives in the previous government were that it took a Labor minister to tell the woke bureaucracy and trans lobby to take a hike.’43

Add religious freedom to the Liberal Party’s challenges. American church historian, Professor Carl Trueman, has posited that:

‘the idea that religious freedom is a social good is not simply increasingly implausible, it is also increasingly distasteful, disturbing and undesirable’.44

When the Coalition introduced its religious discrimination legislation in 2021, it deliberately avoided the issue which was the catalyst for the legislation — Australian Rugby Union’s sacking of Israel Folau for expressing his religious beliefs.

However, it is an issue that may not go away. In February this year, a Muslim player in the AFL women’s competition refused to play in a round in which her team was required to wear a Pride guernsey. In July, seven rugby league players took a similar action.

Then in October, an AFL club forced its CEO to resign 24 hours after appointing him because of his Christian beliefs.

Again, the Coalition is compromised on an issue which has been a cultural cornerstone of Western society for generations and which, not surprisingly, resonates in the outer suburbs.

Another challenge for liberals is freedom of speech, which often seems to be conflated with expression of religious beliefs.

Professor Trueman observes:

‘In a world in which the self is constructed psychologically and in which the therapeutic is the ethical standard… the notion of assault becomes psychological… In such a context, freedom of speech becomes not so much part of the solution as part of the problem’.45

Cultural Conservatism

Professor Lasch’s concept of cultural conservatism also presents a challenge for the Liberals. In the 1980s, he developed an understanding of cultural conservatism and concluded that:

‘the essence of cultural conservatism is a certain respect for limits. The central conservative insight is that human freedom is constrained by the natural conditions of human life, by the weight of history, by the fallibility of human judgment and by the perversity of the human will’; and

‘it is clearly incompatible with modern capitalism or with the liberal ideology of unlimited economic growth.’46

For 19th-century liberals, the family was merely a tool. Professor Lasch says:

‘The obligation to support a wife and children, in their view, would discipline possessive individualism… In the long run, of course, this attempt to build up the family as a counterweight to the acquisitive spirit was a lost cause.’

He also observed that:

‘Capitalism’s relentless erosion of proprietary institutions furnishes the clearest evidence of its incompatibility with anything that deserves the name of cultural conservatism…

‘Twentieth-century capitalism, however, has replaced private property with a corporate form of property…

‘Even the “family wage”, the last attempt to safeguard the independence of the producing classes, has gone the way of the family business and the family farm.’47

After its 2022 federal election result, the Liberal Party seems to be in a state of denial about how bad are both its electoral and cultural prospects. The assault on the values the Liberal Party once held dear, such as freedom of religion, shows no sign of abating and the Liberals seem unable to respond.

The Coalition, as a whole, holds 58 out of 151 lower house seats. Many Liberals have argued that the path back to power is through the ‘Teal’ seats that were lost, thereby ignoring the outer suburbs where there were swings against them as large or larger than the swings against them in the inner suburbs. Even if the Liberals were to regain every one of the seats that they lost to the Teals, that would get the Coalition to just 64 seats, still twelve seats short of government.

Whether the Liberals’ future is best ensured by continuing to offer policies pitched to the élite, inner metropolitan suburbs and ignoring the contradictions between the values of the liberal inner suburbs and the conservative outer suburbs and regions, is the issue that they have to decide.



  1. Menzies Lecture, King’s College, London, 17 September 2002
  2. ‘Latham’s Third Way’, The Australian, 21st February, 2004
  3. Tom Bramble and Rick Kuhn, The Transformation of the Australian Labor Party, p. 4
  4. ‘Beyond Belief: What Future for Labor?’ Quarterly Essay 6, 2002, pp. 1-5
  5. ‘Don’t fall for the green fallacies’, The Australian, 19th March, 2004
  6. See, for example, ‘Forests lock-up has left us a time bomb’, The Land, Peter Austin, 21st November, 2019
  7. ‘Labor must take the Green initiative’, The Australian, 17th March, 2004
  8. The Brompton Report, 2005, p. 13
  9. ‘Latham betrays workers’, The Australian, 8th October, 2004, p. 15
  10. ‘Gay marriage splits Labor’, The Australian, Patricia Karvelas, 10th August, 2002, p. 2
  11. ‘Greens back illegal drugs’, Herald Sun, Gerard McManus, 31st August, 2004, p. 1
  12. The 2004 federal election: why Labor failed, Australian Quarterly, Vol. 76, No. 5, p. 4
  13. ‘Latham must learn the Greens are no friend of Labor’, The Age, 20th October, 2004
  14. ‘We learnt the hard way: failure to kill rates scare campaign cost us poll — ALP chief’, Sydney Morning Herald, 11th November, 2004
  15. ‘Anatomy of a Labor train crash’, The Age, 15th October, 2004, p. 15
  16. ‘Labor’s hopes rest on seats in the bush’, Sydney Morning Herald, 13th December, 2004.
    See also Dr Nick Economou, ‘Faultlines and Failures’, After the Deluge? Rebuilding Labor and a Progressive Movement (Blue Book No. 9, 2004), p. BB8
  17. ‘Introduction’, Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (New York, W.W. Norton and Co., 1995), pp. 20-21
  18. ‘Latham: the power of image’, The Weekend Australian, 31st January, 2004
  19. See, for example, T. J. Kearney, ‘Some implications of the 1966 National Wage Decisions’, The Journal of Industrial Relations, Volume 8, No. 3, pp.221-232. ‘The concept of the basic wage had been part of the industrial landscape since 1905 and was embedded in Australian law by Mr Justice Higgins in the Harvester Case. The basic wage was designed to enable every worker, however humble, to lead a human life, marry, bring up a family with some small degree of comfort. The minimum wage, on the other hand, reflects the needs of an individual worker.’
  20. Can Porn Set Us Free?, speech to Sydney Writers Festival, 2003.
  21. Afternoon Light (Melbourne, Cassell Australia, 1967), pp. 294-295
  22. Guy Beres, NSW Fabian Forum: What happened to the Left, 18th September, 2008
  23. Can Porn set Us Free?
  24. Introduction to Chapter 1 of the ALP’s Draft National Platform, 19th January, 1998
  25. ‘Could Chifley Win Pre-selection today?’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21st April, 2005
  26. See, for example, Profile of the 2007 Australian Election, Australian Development Strategies Pty. Ltd., 2008
  27. Kohler Report, ABC TV News, 5th July, 2022
  28. ‘the rate of decline in home values is comparable with the onset of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2008, and the sharp downswing of the early 1980s’, Hedonic Home Value Index, 1st August, 2022
  29. ‘Why Carol is laughing all the way to the bank’, Duncan Hughes, Australian Financial Review, 21st May, 2021.
  30. 1990 Alfred Deakin Lecture
  31. ‘The Liberal Party is a broad church. You sometimes have to get the builders in to put in the extra pew on both sides of the aisle to make sure that everybody is accommodated… We are, of course, the custodian of the classical liberal tradition within our society… We are also the custodians of the conservative tradition in our community… the Liberal Party it is at its best when it balances and blends those two traditions.’ Launch of The Conservative, 8th September, 2005.
  32. ‘The fractured Liberals need a new brand ― their broad church is no longer working’, The Conversation, 15th August, 2018
  33. ‘Conservatism Against Itself’, First Things, Institute on Religion and Public Life, April, 1990
  34. The New Politics of Evasion, Progressive Policy Institute, February, 2022, p. 8
  35. Launch of The Conservative
  36. Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790, paragraphs 75, 331 and 165 respectively.
  37. On the Social Contract, Book 1, 1762, p. 1
  38. Rousseau and the Republic of Virtue (Cornell University 1986), Carol Blum, p. 103.
  39. Interview for Woman’s Own, 23rd September, 1987
  40. ‘What are the 72 other genders?’, Dr Shaziya Allarakha, MedicineNet, 2nd February, 2022
  41. National guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport, Sportaus, June 2019
  42. See Sal Grover@saltweets, 19th July, 2022
  43. ‘Scrapping birth parenting form is a victory for sanity, biological reality and the silent majority’, Herald Sun, 22nd July, 2020
  44. The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self (Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois, 2020), p.400
  45. Ibid., p. 326
  46. Conservatism Against Itself
  47. Ibid.


Originally published by the IPA. Photo by Rene Asmussen.

Thank the Source


Please help truthPeep spread the word :)