30th November, 2015
The media often claim that the Liberal Party has two factions, the “conservative” and the “small-l liberal”, with the latter counting Malcolm Turnbull among its ranks. They place those they most despise, like Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi, in the “conservative” camp, and suggest they aren’t true liberals like their beloved Malcolm. In this article I explain why Malcolm Turnbull is neither a small-l liberal, nor a traditional big-L Liberal, true to the party’s founder, Sir Robert Menzies. Rather, he and his fellow travelers are ‘progressives’, with no aversion to state power.
Is Malcolm Turnbull a small-l liberal?
The word “liberal” can be traced back to the Latin words “liber” and “liberalis”, the former meaning “free man” (as opposed to a slave or a serf) and the latter meaning “suitable for a free man”. This evolved into “liberal” in both the French and English languages, where it carried pre-political meanings like “munificent” and “gentlemanly”. It wasn’t used in an ideological or political sense until the late 18th century, and was only popularised as a result of Adam Smith’s 1776 economic treatise, The Wealth of Nations.
All original ideological usage of “liberal” involved an economic context, and clearly referred to what we would today call free-market capitalism. For instance, in one passage of his Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith denounces former French Minister of Finances, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, saying:
“…instead of allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice, [Colbert] bestowed upon certain branches of industry extraordinary privileges, while he laid others under as extraordinary restraints.”
Adam Smith also talked about “the liberal system of free exportation and free importation” and described labor market deregulation and freedom of contract as “liberal principles”.
This original definition of “liberal” persisted throughout the 19th century. It was only with the rise of the so-called “progressive” movement in the 1890s, that the word was gradually co-opted and bastardised, with meanings ascribed that were antithetical to the original. Unfortunately, in America at least, the perverted meanings stuck, and this led to the need for the term “classical liberal” to distinguish the original from the bastardised.
It is only when the word “liberal” is misused in the fashion described, that it can possibly refer to the ‘progressive’ Mr Turnbull, who has proven, time and again, that he has no dedication to the principles of liberalism whatsoever. Allow me to provide you with a few examples:
- Supports government restrictions on gaming.
- Supports government restrictions on executive salaries.
- Supports socialised mass transit (incl. federal funding).
- Supports increasing ‘foreign aid‘.
- Supports special taxes on tobacco.
- Supports special taxes on alcohol.
- Supports the ABC, and its taxpayer funding.
- Supports the ban on incandescent light bulbs.
- Opposes freedom of speech.
- Thinks tax cuts are a form of government spending.
- Thinks people minimising tax are practicing “black arts“.
- Supports giving taxpayers money to comedians.
- Opposes petrol excise tax cuts.
- Supports increased water charges & water rationing.
- Supports more environment bureaucrats.
- Opposes farmers removing trees from their own property.
…and I could go on.
Is Malcolm Turnbull true to Menzies?
The Liberal Party was a 1944 merger of about 18 different anti-Labor Party organisations who had previously formed the loose coalition that was the United Australia Party (UAP). These groups included nationalists, farmers, liberals, conservatives and women’s groups.
With Labor in power federally, and an Australian people accustomed to war-time socialism, UAP leader Robert Menzies believed the fragmented opposition was destined for continued defeat. The Labor Party – monolithic and well organised – was in a powerful position to ‘divide and conquer’. He thus resolved to merge these loosely connected UAP forces into a single national party, under a single name, with a common policy platform. His dominating influence on the creation process led to journalists calling the party simply “the Menzies Party“.
His choice of “Liberal” was based on a few factors.
Firstly, Labor Party propaganda had successfully labelled the United Australia Party as a reactionary party, opposed to progress. Menzies made this point at a Canberra party meeting in October, 1944:
“We have, partly by our own fault and partly by some extremely clever propaganda by the Labor Party, been put into the position of appearing to resist political and economic progress. In other words, on far too many questions we have found our role to be simply that of the man who says ‘no’…Once this atmosphere is created, it is quite simple for us to be branded as reactionaries…” 1
Hence, calling the party “Conservative” would’ve played into Labor‘s public relations strategy at the time, because the term could be readily caricatured to refer to Tory elitism and the feudal system.
Secondly, Menzies cites the old British Liberal Party of William Gladstone, who served four separate periods as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the late 19th century. Gladstone was an adherent of classical (i.e. true) liberalism. He supported low taxation, balanced budgets, less regulation and freer trade.
Gladstone was deeply religious, and started his political career as a Conservative, but was part of a sizable minority in the Conservative Party who opposed the Corn laws (tariffs on imported grain which raised the price and hurt the poor). This minority was led by Sir Robert Peel, and were called “Peelites” or “Liberal Conservatives”. They eventually split from the Conservative Party and later merged with the Whigs to become the Liberal Party.
On a side note, Gladstone called the Islamic Qur’an an “accursed book” and once held it up during a session of Parliament, declaring: “So long as there is this book there will be no peace in the world.”
Thirdly, Menzies needed a simple name that clearly demarcated the party from Labor and its socialist economic policies. Clearly “Liberal” was the obvious choice, as it broadly, though not perfectly, described the party’s approach. Menzies made this perfectly clear, saying:
“There was to be nothing doctrinaire about our policies. If I were to become the leader of a great non-Socialist party, I must look at everything in a practical way.” 2
Although Menzies was a liberal-leaner rather than a liberal dogmatist, it is clear that he accepted the original definition of liberalism that was popularised by Adam Smith in the late 18th century, with its economic focus.
His views became more obvious when, in 2011, some of his private letters were released in which he laments the rise of what the media call “small-l liberals (who are really pseudo-liberal ‘progressives’) in the Liberal Party. For instance, on the 8th of April, 1974, the retired Menzies wrote to his daughter:
“The main trouble in my state is that we have the State Executive of the Liberal Party, which is dominated by what they now call ‘Liberals with a small l’ — that is to say, Liberals who believe in nothing but still believe in anything if they think it worth a few votes. The whole thing is tragic.” 3
He reiterated his point a few months later, on the 24th of July:
“Why should I, at my age, have to be worrying myself about what is happening to the party which I created, a party which had principles to which I most firmly adhere, principles which have now been completely abandoned by what they call ‘little l’ Liberals.’” 4
Before these letters were discovered, some had tried to paint Menzies as a ‘progressive’, citing a passage in his 1967 book, Afternoon Light, in which he says:
“We took the name “Liberal” because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary, but believing in the individual, his rights and his enterprise, and rejecting the socialist panacea.” 5
As I will demonstrate, when taken in the context of Menzies’ other writings, it is clear that he isn’t using the term “progressive” in the ideological sense we use it today, where it (misnomerically, in my view) refers to a particular set of secular humanist policies like perverting the Marriage Act, non-discriminatory mass immigration, republicanism, abortion-on-demand, voluntary euthanasia, legalising hard drugs for recreational use, and ever increasing government spending on socialised healthcare and education.
Indeed, Menzies doesn’t appear to ever use “progressive” and “conservative” with their current ideological connotation, and only rarely uses “left” and “right” in that fashion.
In private letters between 1955 and 1975, Menzies referred, for instance, to his “conservatism” in anticipating election results 6 and his love of the “rather conservative” Melbourne suburb of Kew 7. Like his use of “progressive”, these were clearly non-political uses. This makes sense, because the post-World War II, pre-Thatcher British Conservative Party was almost as socialistic as the British Labour Party, hence the word “conservative” could not denote an anti-socialist. This British “post-war consensus” was something Menzies strongly criticised:
“Socialism was always a negative and retrogressive doctrine, and [Labour Prime Minister] Wilson is proving it. But the Tories are trying to beat Wilson at his own game, which is a stupid thing to do. A powerful Opposition should always aim to be different, so that people do feel that they have an important choice to make.” 8
Whilst Menzies didn’t use the term, his personal policy prescriptions, and those of his party, make it blatantly obvious that he, and the party he created, were what we would today call ‘socially conservative’. Below I list some of these policies, with the benefit of a hyperlinked list of contents:
- Menzies on Immigration
- Menzies on Christianity & Education
- Menzies on the United Nations
- Menzies on Gough Whitlam
- Menzies on his ‘Progressive’ Successors
- Menzies on Republicanism
- Menzies on the ABC & Fairfax Media
- Menzies on the Vietnam War
- Menzies on B.A. Santamaria & the DLP
- Menzies on Loyalty
- Menzies on “Rights”, “Democracy” & Academics
- Menzies on the European Union & Flower People
- Menzies on Sexual Immodesty & Crime
- Menzies on the “Home of Freedom”
In Afternoon Light, Menzies’ 1967 memoir, he explicitly supports Australia’s then long-practiced and highly restrictive immigration regime. Indeed, he does so in the paragraph immediately following the one containing the statement about the party being “progressive”, as part of a clarification on the use of the word ‘liberal’:
“In the United States of America, the word ‘liberal’ is used in contradistinction to ‘conservative’, but it seems, in recent years, to have acquired a special connotation. When I resided in America for some months in 1966-7, I thought that it threatened to become a word which had special reference to racial relations; to ‘civil rights’; to the vexed questions of ‘integration’ and ‘segregation’…Thanks to a wise immigration policy, we are free of this problem in Australia, and I hope that we shall never permit ourselves to acquire it.” 9
In his writings and speeches, Menzies repeatedly refers to God, quotes Bible verses, and conveys his affinity for prayer. In 1954, speaking at the opening of a Catholic school in Canberra, Menzies explicitly rejected secular education as the origin of communism and Nazism, saying:
“I do not believe education can be pagan without being destructive. The 20th century has proven that, to the last limits of disaster…I think that the great thing in the world today is that we have our children grow up not only learning of their relationship to their fellow men, but even more of their relationship to God.”
One of Menzies’ references to prayer was particularly striking. In a letter to his daughter, Heather, on the 15th of May, 1968, Menzies wrote:
“…if the prayers of a righteous man avail as much as Holy Writ tells, mine against Bobby Kennedy must succeed.” 10
A few weeks later, Bobby Kennedy was dead.
Menzies called the United Nations General Assembly a “very disturbing” organisation,11 noting the tendency for third world dictatorships to “gang up” on the western powers. On the Security Council system, Menzies said the Soviet veto made it a “suicidal doctrine”:
“This I would regard as a suicidal doctrine for, having regard to the existence of the veto, it would mean that no force could ever be exercised against any friend of the Soviet Union except with the approval of the Soviet Union, which is absurd.”12
He also rebuked the UN as a haven for “busy-bodies” intent on interfering in the domestic affairs of sovereign nations,13 and called it a “strange mélange of disunited nations”.14
Menzies called Whitlam a “wretched man”15 and a “deplorable fellow”16 who was leading a “disastrous government”.17 He slammed Whitlam for his “interference with private enterprise” and said he was “carrying out a purely Communist policy”.18
In private letters to his daughter, Menzies would often say “God help us!” when discussing the Whitlam Labor Government,19 and in 1974 he rejected Whitlam’s offer to sit on a fundraising committee for a new building to honour John Curtin that would also house Labor‘s national headquarters. Responding to Whitlam’s letter, Menzies wrote:
“I have, during my whole political life, been an opponent of the Labour Party…I have not held my political views lightly, nor have I abandoned them.”20
Further, he fretted over fellow Liberals who actually submitted to similar solicitations, telling daughter Heather:
“I did not contribute by word or money for the Labor Party headquarters, though I fear that a fair number of my friends have done so.”21
Menzies despaired at his party’s downward spiral into ‘progressivism’ and appeasement of Labor, in the years following his 1966 departure. In 1974 he wrote that “The idiots who now run the Liberal Party will drive me right round the bend.”22 and said he doesn’t want a meeting with them because it will cause a “violent row”.23
He even theorised that his ideopathic skin disease – unresolved despite the attention of three different skin specialists – was the result of his psychological torment over the state of his beloved party.24
On John Gorton, Menzies privately wrote that he had “grave defects of mental equipment and hard work”25. He referred to Gorton’s “bumbling, amateur performance” in debates and interviews26 and mocked him over the Ainsley Gotto controversy, comparing it to Harold Holt posing for a photo with three girls in bikinis.27 Clearly this kind of immodesty and immorality was not to Menzies’ liking.
He called Billy McMahon, who was a suspected homosexual, an “untrustworthy little scamp”28 for whom he had a “distaste”,29 and on one occasion referred to a speech given by McMahon as “pathetically verbose”.30
Menzies’ most scathing assessments were reserved for Billy Snedden. He called Snedden a “laughing stock”,31 “half-witted”,32 and a “foolish boy”33 who “has not a clue”.34
He mocked Snedden for having “obviously never read the Constitution” and said the Snedden-led Liberals were “selling us all down the river”.35 Snedden, Menzies said, “suffers from the abominable disease of wanting to be liked by everybody”,36 and denounced his appeasement of Whitlam:
“The main thing…that troubles me is that [the Whitlam] Government is carrying out a purely Communist policy without ever being challenged from the Opposition.”37
Indeed, Menzies doubted whether a Snedden Prime Ministership would be any better than Whitlam,38 saying he and his chief associates have “muddled minds”.39 In July, 1974, he said:
“…the things that I believe in and which sustained me through many years of politics have now been abandoned by the people who now masquerade as Liberals in the Federal Parliament.”40
Predicting that Whitlam would be knifed by Jim Cairns, Menzies thought the Liberals were so degenerate under Snedden, that they might welcome Whitlam and his allies on their side, forming government with Whitlam as Prime Minister.41 Interestingly, a young Malcolm Turnbull canvassed a similar maneuver in an article for the leftist Nation Review, but actually supported it as a means of shutting out conservatives.64
I don’t think Menzies would’ve been surprised had he been alive to see the manner of Snedden’s death. In 1987, age 60, he was found dead in a Sydney hotel room, having died of a heart attack whilst fornicating with his son’s former girlfriend.
So vehement was Menzies in his support for Australia’s constitutional monarchy that he dedicated a whole chapter of his book, Afternoon Light, to an intellectual defence of the Crown, and a rejection of republicanism.
Menzies slams the “inverted snobbery” of “long-haired pseudo-intellectual”63 republicans who claim to be anti-elitist, but who support what is simply a new and more noxious form of elitism. He points out that the former Viceroy’s palace in New Delhi, India, a spectacular building, is now occupied by the republican President of India:
“There are still splendid-looking men in uniform, and hosts of servants. And there would be such people at Buckingham Palace, if a President took over. No people courting invitations? No rules of protocol? Forget it!”42
Defending the Crown, he says:
“…I have lived through an increasingly materialistic age…We are so little concerned with the things that really make life worth living that we half starve our clergy and expect many of our best writers and artists to live in a sort of eccentric penury…this utilitarian philosophy has become so prevalent that many misconceived arguments about the Crown arise…I am a Monarchist just because to me, and millions of others, the Crown is non-utilitarian; it represents a spiritual and emotional conception more enduring and significant than any balance sheet cast up by an accountant.”43
Left-wing control of the media is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, the media were hostile to conservatives going right back to Menzies, particularly the ABC and Fairfax. Although Menzies rarely complained about this publicly, he did often canvas it in private, as the letters to his daughter reveal.
For instance, with regard to an interview he did with the BBC in 1967, Menzies says:
“In the ordinary course, the ABC would use it but I will be very surprised if they do so without mangling it to my disadvantage. As you will remember, I have never been persona grata with the ABC, nor the ABC with me.”44
Indeed, so extreme was the ABC’s bias against Menzies that he had once resolved “never to do a TV appearance for the ABC” again.45 The Sydney Morning Herald too, campaigned against Menzies:
“The Sydney Morning Herald, of course, has been at me for twenty years. Those who conduct it lack the intelligence to realise that everybody now understands that the SMH dislikes me and is unfair to me.”46
For instance, in 1962, the Sydney Morning Herald, and Labor Opposition Leader Arthur Calwell, were pushing for a military alliance with the Dutch for the defense of West New Guinea against Indonesia. Menzies said this was “sheer lunacy”:
“The Sydney Morning Herald, which has gone quite crazy, takes the [pro-war] line in clear terms. When you recall that in the last couple of years the SMH has accused me of not cultivating the friendship of the Asian people, it is remarkable that it should now call upon me to declare war upon them in respect to a piece of territory which is not ours and which I firmly believe the Dutch are anxious to leave as soon as they decently can.”47
Menzies doesn’t restrict his criticism of the media to Australian outlets. In 1967, whilst travelling and speaking in the United States, Menzies wrote to his daughter on the Vietnam war, saying:
“The metropolitan press, particularly the New York Times, is, at the best, equivocal and, at the worst, downright unpatriotic…The Times actually sent out one of its senior men, Salisbury, to North Vietnam, for one purpose only, so far as I can tell, and that was to send back propaganda against the US…”48
Menzies understood the journalist group-think phenomenon, and his comments on the matter are as applicable today as they were in his time:
“Journalists cannibalise each other. If one starts a legend, the others borrow it and after a few years the legend becomes accepted history.”49
Menzies was a strong public supporter of the American war effort in Vietnam, and his views were repeated, with even greater intensity, in private. When committing the first Australian troops in 1965, Menzies told parliament:
“The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries of South-East Asia. It must be seen as part of a thrust by Communist China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.”
In a private letter in 1968, Menzies even attacks US Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy as “the retreater”, and suggests his weakness is undermining a favourable settlement for south Vietnam, with the communist north:
“In a political sense, why should they make a settlement while there is a hope of Bobby Kennedy, the retreater, becoming President with, perhaps (and this is a grisly thought), Fulbright at the State Department…my chief prayer is that Bobby Kennedy should not succeed.”50
At the same time that Menzies was brimming with contempt for the Snedden-led federal Liberal Party, he met with the leader of the Democratic Labour Party, Senator Frank McManus, and the President of the DLP-aligned National Civic Council, B.A. Santamaria.
Of McManus, Menzies says his “views and style I approve”. Of Santamaria, he says he is “the best political thinker of the whole bunch”.51 Santamaria was, of course, Tony Abbott’s mentor and primary influence.
It is not only Turnbull’s ideological orientation that is opposed to the traditions of the party, the same is true of his undermining tactics and the nature of his installation, for Menzies was always adamant that disloyalty not be rewarded.
For instance, during the 1961 election campaign, Menzies was “hopping mad” that the NSW Liberal Executive had organised, without his knowledge, for him to campaign for backbencher Roy Wheeler, in the seat of Mitchell. Menzies said:
“Wheeler…possesses no shades of loyalty to me, to the government or to the party. He is an outstanding example of the fellow who is trying to push his own somewhat wobbly electoral barrow by seizing every opportunity of attacking us. I have made it clear to the Organisation, in my worst possible manner, that I refuse to pay a premium on disloyalty; there are many fellows in the party who have stood firm under all the blasts of criticism; and I could not look them in the eye…if I went off and singled out Mr Wheeler for special favour. So the meeting is off.”52
When Menzies speculated that Prime Minister Gorton would reward destablisers, he said:
“To reward consistent disloyalty to the team is the wrong way to ensure the loyalty of the team. But Gorton is like that…He does not appear to feel called upon to consult Cabinet on matters of high policy and may live to regret it.”53
Menzies was clearly a critic of the unfettered “rights” and “democracy” ethic, instead supporting a balance between rights and duties. In 1974, he told a public gathering in Kew:
“If we are going to narrow our horizon to that extent that we think only of rights and not of duties…then we are very bad citizens.”54
On democracy, Menzies said it was desirable, but not an end in itself. He opposed immediate suffrage for those not yet mature enough to exercise it in a moral fashion, noting that mature British democracy was only achieved following a period of “slow and sometimes painful growth”. He supported colonialism as a means of civilizing savage cultures such that they could attain the maturity necessary for their successful independence. In Afternoon Light, he says:
“The right to vote should be approximately related to the capacity to vote. In British democracies, universal suffrage and universal education go hand in hand. The recent history of the Congo should be sufficient proof that a premature grant of self-government can lead to great community disaster. A basically uneducated community will mean a basically uneducated electorate; in which case there will be a dictator or a small oligarchy. Freedom will not result.”55
In his 1963 speech at Monticello, the Virginia home of American founding father Thomas Jefferson, Menzies is critical of the prevailing American attitude supporting immediate decolonisation:
“You can’t create a democracy as quickly as you can create independence. There are still too many influential people in the world who forget that the granting of political independence is not an end in itself. It is indeed a beginning, just as capable of producing a new tyranny as it is of producing an independent community of free men.
You’re Americans. You detest colonialism, because to you it connotes subordination. Whenever you see some surviving colony somewhere, you’re eager to make it independent. But, if I may say so, it’s a mistake to underestimate two factors. The first is that a modern and intelligent colonial power, like Australia, in respect of our Papua New Guinea, while aiming at complete independence as the goal, realises that the process of fitting the local inhabitants for self-rule must be relatively slow if it is to be relatively sure.
We know a good deal about this territory. With its confusion of tribes and languages, its rugged mountains, its towns in which the Papuans are relatively civilized…and with its remote valleys and jungles in which sheer savagery still survives. When well meaning people tell us that we should create complete political independence in one blow, by the simple process of creating a popular assembly…we marvel that such people should think that self-government is so artificial and so easy.”
Further criticising the United States, Menzies condemned President Eisenhower’s proposal for ‘a world vote on communism or freedom’, saying it is “just about the silliest proposal I ever heard”.56 He also denounced the US justice system:
“I am genuinely depressed about America. The processes of justice here are so tortuous and give so many opportunities for delay that no convicted person who has enough money to exploit the possibilities need ever begin to serve a sentence for some years. Even the most highly educated people here carry what they believe to be their perfect democracy to a point of absurdity…[The delays] are inconsistent with justice because by the time a crime is five or six years old nobody is at all interested in the person who was killed or robbed; the interest is on the accused and all the woolly-minded sentimentalists, including the psychiatrists, are hard at work.”57
As Menzies says, it was often university academics pushing this impractical and nefarious pseudo-“rights and democracy” ideology, and he was skeptical of their influence. For instance, after attending an Australian University Conference in Canberra he said:
“It confirmed my belief that many academics know very little of real life, and develop some rather airy-fairy theories.”58
Menzies opposed Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, which evolved into the monstrous European Union we know today. Whilst in the UK in 1967, he wrote to daughter Heather:
“Something is going seriously wrong in this country. They appear to have lost all belief in themselves, and therefore look at the European Common Market as if it were ‘the shadow of a rock in a dry land‘. The decline of morale is, of course, as usual illustrated by the fearful decline in the standards of the newspapers. The London Times used to be regarded as the sheet anchor of the reflective man, but every time I open it now the front page is devoted either to the death of the manager of the Beatles or to the caperings of some of the eccentrics in the current generation called ‘Flower People’ or something. There are masses of splendid young men and women in this country and a mere handful of these lunatics, but the lunatics command the press.”59
Menzies’ social conservatism shines through in his private letters. This passage about his plane trip from the US State of Texas back to Australia, is particularly telling of his social attitudes:
“…we flew in a small plane from Austin to Dallas, and then in a large plane from Dallas to Honolulu direct. It was not a very pleasant journey. Half a dozen of the people sitting just behind us, chiefly men, devoted the whole eight hours to drinking and were in a state of sad repair when we arrived at Honolulu. The air hostesses, too, are a set of ‘floozies’, doing their work, when they did it, on very familiar terms with the male passengers. After this experience it was a joy, as always, to go aboard Qantas when we departed from the island.”60
Menzies also provided John Gorton with a scolding over the Ainsley Gotto controversy, again pointing to the woman’s “familiarity”:
“Other activities of the new Prime Minister are somewhat calculated to expose him to criticism. He has installed in the Prime Minister’s Secretary’s room, next to the Prime Minister’s office, a young woman in her early twenties whose name, I am credibly informed, is Gotto. She assumes an air of great familiarity with the Prime Minister, draws a very large salary and is not unacquainted with the social life. I can only conclude that, under the new regime, she is to establish a certain rivalry with the late Harold’s ‘bikini’ girls.”61
In 1974, with sexual crimes on the rise following the late 1960s “sexual revolution”, Menzies frets over his granddaughter and two of her friends travelling around NSW unaccompanied, by train, without parental knowledge:
“I was very upset about the escapade of young Sibby because I know the we are living in a most criminal age in which the thought that a granddaughter of mine should be leaving school and going to Goulburn by train seems to me to expose her to risks which have given me the most terrible anxiety.”62
Malcolm Turnbull has said that he considers France to be the “home of freedom”. This appears to be a reference to the 1789 French Revolution, which was an orgy of sickening atrocities carried out by violent left-wing radicals, particularly against Christians.
A legacy of the French revolution unfortunately endures, and today France is one of the highest taxing nations in the world. As of 2014, taxes in France amounted to 47.9% of GDP, the third highest in the world behind Denmark and Belgium. The country takes 75th place on the Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Index of Economic Freedom.
Contrary to Turnbull, Sir Robert Menzies said England was the “ancient home of freedom”, and called the National Library’s purchase of an original 1297 issue of the Magna Carta, which he authorised and funded from the Prime Minister’s Department, “the most important [purchase] yet made by an Australian library”.
It is patently obvious then, that Menzies was no ‘progressive’, as we understand that term today, in its political and ideological connotation. It is also true that Menzies wasn’t a dogmatic liberal. He supported a solid but limited role for the state, and his party’s policy platform reflected his views. If he were in politics today he would be called “conservative”, and the left-wing media would most probably label him a “right-wing Christian fundamentalist”.
You can therefore conclude that, in addition to his deviation from true (classical) liberal philosophy, Malcolm Turnbull is utterly outside Liberal Party tradition, which is comprehensively conservative.
The only appropriate course of action for Turnbull then, is a prompt resignation and defection to a ‘progressive’ party like the Labor Party or the Greens.
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*UPDATE [29 Oct, 2016]: Added section on “home of freedom”.
1. Menzies, R. (1967). Afternoon Light. (p. 287). Melbourne: Cassell Australia.
2. Ibid, p. 282.
3. Henderson, H. (Ed.). (2011). Letters to my Daughter. (p. 261). Sydney: Murdoch Books Australia.
4. Ibid, p. 265.
5. Menzies, OpCit, p. 286.
6. Henderson, OpCit, p. 17.
7. Ibid, p. 270.
8. Ibid, p. 166.
9. Menzies, OpCit, p. 286.
10. Henderson, OpCit, p. 197.
11. Ibid, p. 47.
12. Menzies, OpCit, p. 174.
13. Ibid, p. 193.
14. Ibid, p. 175.
15. Henderson, OpCit, p. 132.
16. Ibid, p. 169.
17. Ibid, p. 255.
18. Ibid, p. 248.
19. Ibid, p. 249.
20. Ibid, p. 277.
21. Ibid, p. 275.
22. Ibid, p. 260.
23. Ibid, p. 253.
24. Ibid, p. 275.
25. Ibid, p. 224.
26. Ibid, p. 223.
27. Ibid, p. 183.
28. Ibid, p. 224.
29. Ibid, p. 171.
30. Ibid, p. 205.
31. Ibid, p. 175.
32. Ibid, p. 261.
33. Ibid, p. 177.
34. Ibid, p. 248.
35. Ibid, p. 251.
36. Ibid, p. 255.
37. Ibid, p. 248.
38. Ibid, p. 253.
39. Ibid, p. 275.
40. Ibid, p. 266.
41. Ibid, p. 265.
42. Menzies, OpCit, p. 235.
43. Ibid, p. 234.
44. Henderson, OpCit, p. 160.
45. Ibid, p. 161.
46. Ibid, p. 48.
47. Ibid, p. 84.
48. Ibid, p. 138.
49. Ibid, p. 161.
50. Ibid, p. 192.
51. Ibid, p. 253.
52. Ibid, p. 72.
53. Ibid, p. 180.
54. Ibid, p. 271.
55. Menzies, OpCit, p. 191.
56. Henderson, OpCit, p. 43.
57. Ibid, p. 140-141.
58. Ibid, p. 218.
59. Ibid, p. 155.
60. Ibid, p. 230-231.
61. Ibid, p. 183.
62. Ibid, p. 265.
63. Ibid, p. 235.
64. Manning, P. (2015). Born to Rule: The unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull. Melbourne University Press.