If Eric Abetz is serious about preventing the airing of his party’s internal differences when he addresses this weekend’s Young Liberal conference, perhaps he ought to have a word to the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation and their alumni.

Phil Coorey in the SMH nicely points out today the irony of Abetz not being able himself to resist the opportunity to get stuck into his opponents, whom he describes as “jeremiahs” and “snake oil merchants”.

Alas, that’s nothing compared to the language used by some Young Liberal conservatives.

Tim Andrews, who until last year was national president of the ALSF (the “peek representative body of Liberal Students in Australia”), recently started blogging, and on Tuesday offered the following thoughts about Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull:

Malcolm Turnbull and the center-right movement have traditionally been considered an ill fit, to say the least … In accepting the Leadership of the Liberal Party, Turnbull’s speech to the media laid out the blueprint for a new style of “conservatism”; one based not on laissez-faire conceptions of individual freedom, but on government empowerment. Clothed in the rhetoric of individual rights, he presents a model little different to those of nanny state paternalism.

Turnbull’s words — “a society can not be free if it is not fair” — say it all. The next day he promoted Christopher Pyne, widely acknowledged as a leading light in the party’s hard-left and a recent attendee at the Democratic Convention, into a senior cabinet post … For many on the right, there is little doubt that Turnbull is a man of no convictions whatsoever. No convictions, that is, except one: that he should be Prime Minister…

Vigorous stuff. But young Tim, who last year as ALSF president attacked Liberal MPs who supported the apology to the Stolen Generations — including Eric Abetz — was only getting warmed up.

Turnbull’s response to the global financial crisis can be described as nothing but sickening. He decided to seize the initiative (and the media spotlight). He proposed a quasi-bailout and, attacking the government from the left, argued for government guarantees of all bank deposits; a move met with surprise by economists (as Australian banks remained highly profitable and had no need for a bailout) and conservative commentators (surprised that the Liberal Party would embrace socialism so rapidly) …

And then we move to Labor Market reform. Nowhere can the mind-boggling cowardly cravenness of the Liberal Party be seen more starkly than here. Note, by the way, that I deliberately do not call them the Opposition, as is their proper title in Australian politics, for they have completely failed to oppose anything. Her Majesty’s Supine and Backboneless Dishrags would be a more apt title. And it got worse.

With the Union-beholden Labor Party proposing legislation to return Australia to the 1930s, destroying individual freedoms, eliminating jobs and critically damaging the economy, the Liberal Party — on this, the one issue where some of its greatest achievements have been – did nothing. It refused to stand up for the right to work. It refused to stand up for freedom of contract. It merely bowed its head and submitted … A policy platform based on no more than perceptions of future opinion polls. No principles. No ideas. Just an empty void.

This is the fundamental cancer that is infesting the conservative movement: the willingness to play to media elites through ‘bipartisanship’ and ‘compromise’. Odiously selling out your beliefs and politically prostituting yourself to climb the greasy poll to success. It is morally repugnant…

All the while the mainstream media lavishes praise upon him, salivating at the concept of the change he brings. And indeed, why should they not? For Turnbull is essentially one of them. One of the Elite. Popular on Facebook, and photographed with celebrities and societies glamorous. Agreeing with every left-wing policy directive…

And so on.

Wonder what the Young Nats think of Turnbull.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey