They forgot the forgotten people.
80 years ago, Australians sat in their lounge rooms and listened to a speech. A speech that spoke of a political vision. A vision to offer representation to Australians that could not afford to exert influence with money, and did not qualify as members of a union or body that could exert influence on their behalf. This speech dismissed class warfare as a distraction from the job at hand of navigating the country through a crisis, and flourishing on the other side. The speaker called for the warmest human compassion for those who need the states help to survive. He called for education to be a priority for our country. He called for a vibrant and flourishing arts community. He called for all Australians to seek to better their community, for their community. 80 years ago, this speech recognised the critical importance of access to a secure home, not just a house, as key element in helping people help themselves and their community.
He warned against brainless tribalism, he warned against thriving off the labour of others. He called for Australia to remember and hear the "forgotten people" who value these things.
Yet here we are. 80 years on and the party that speaker founded has forgotten its "forgotten people".
The same party strived some 20 years later to properly open up our boundless plains to share to those who come across the seas. This party dismantled the notion that Australia was for the white man. Another 20 years later and the same party opened its doors to refugees fleeing war and persecution. They stopped the boats by flying refugees here instead.
Nearly 20 years after that, another leader of that party stood up against powerful lobby groups and passed laws to prohibit the sale of high-powered firearms in this country.
Now here we are, another 20 years on. 80 years after the party was formed to further the cause of Australia's forgotten people. The party that wasn't concerned with the opinions of newspapers or pundits or gossips. And what have we got?
We have a cabinet that has their nose so far in the trough that they are scared to have a body that can hold them to account for corruption. They are taking from our democracy, not contributing. We have a party that represents millionaires and cashed-up lobby groups. Ministers that literally sell their time to lobbyists. We have a government that has destroyed the higher education system, that sees no value in the arts, and that treats our most unfortunate citizens as second-class citizens.
You may have worked out I am speaking of the Liberal Party, and Menzies great vision for flourishing homes and families contributing to a flourishing Australia.
I believed once. I voted Liberal for years, but then I asked myself if Menzies would even vote Liberal these days. Harold Holt and Malcolm Fraser surely wouldn't. Fraser himself had completely dis-endorsed the Libs well before his passing. In fact, just prior to his passing he was endeavouring to recapture the essence of the forgotten people and form a new party.
Many prominent former Liberal leaders are disgusted with what the Liberals are now. And so am I.
This year, we watched a Prime Minister out televisions lie repeatedly. We watched him defend the imprisonment of children born in Australia simply because their parents were not. We watched him defend proposed legislation that would allow children to be expelled from school for being homosexual. We watched him repeatedly reject evidence and ignore science over both disease and climate. We have watched him time and time again ignore the well-being of everyday Australians in favour of his own self-interest.
So I went looking for a party that captures the essence of what it means to be "Classically liberal". That is to hold power ethically. To make decisions based on evidence. To ensure that all citizens have Equal opportunities. To have empathy for those less fortunate. To engage the community in the political process and to empower the voices of the forgotten people.
I believe in the Ethics, Engagement and Empowerment of Menzies' forgotten people speech. I believe in the Equality Harold Holt sought for Australia when he dismantled the White Australia policy. I believe In the Empathy Malcolm Fraser showed to South East Asian Refugees and I believe in the commitment to Evidence John Howard showed when he passed Australia's gun laws. And that's why I don't vote Liberal any more.
They forgot the forgotten people.
That's why I am a Progressive.
By Phil Ebbott