The Liberal Party, anything but!
Like Tony Abbott, I’m a migrant to Australia, unlike him though, I was an adult when I arrived here. My understanding of the English language was at that point more rounded, or so I believed.
Imagine my surprise when I began to take interest in politics here; I started reading about the Liberal Party and as I learned more about them, my confusion increased!
Most of what they say is anything but liberal; they are actually conservative, they don’t even really believe in the freedom of the individual that is enshrined in law, since they are against a Bill of Rights that guarantees freedoms.
So, why are they called the Liberal Party? Why doesn’t anyone tell them to go get a name that is closer to their actual ideals, i.e. conservative?
Their main observed philosophy is that each fend for themselves. Which somewhat explains their lower taxes mantra, their slow and gradual devaluing and dismantling of public services, their rare funding of big nation building infrastructure projects and their desire to privatise everything. Back to the original question though, the use of “Liberal” in their name? Unlike the majority of the world, liberal in Australia seems to refer to economic liberalism and that Party’s ideological belief in organising the economy on individualist lines, however, in anything other than that, they are mainly conservative, making them a puzzlement in my book!
Since the formation of the Liberal Party in 1945, many books were written about them, but, to get some information about how they started, why go far? From their own website, you can find some interesting things, such as this quote from Robert Menzies in his opening address at the meeting that formed the party, he said:
…what we must look for, and it is a matter of desperate importance to our society, is a true revival of liberal thought which will work for social justice and security, for national power and national progress, and for the full development of the individual citizen, though not through the dull and deadening process of socialism.
That’s what made people join the party; that they didn’t like socialism, they don’t like the idea of caring for the people of the country as a whole, they don’t feel like a community that should take care of each other. They felt that the individual can only develop to his or her potential by liberal thought!
I am intrigued to know what the word liberal meant in Australia then? I also wonder if the Liberal Party of now thinks that as a country, especially since they ruled more than Labor in that time period, we are indeed presently a national power and if our said citizen’s have all developed fully?
I also wonder what democratic socialist countries like Finland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Belgium would think now of this point of view that came to form the Liberal Party? Do they see themselves as dull and deadening? Would they think their ability to give all their citizens an excellent education system, health cover, advanced infrastructure and generally a good level of life and a more secure future is less important than how dull they are perceived? Are their citizens unable to fully develop? Is their attempt to balance capitalism with socialism to get the best of both made them the worse for it?
Checking OECD statistics, would more or less answer the question above. No, they don’t care much about the ideas of the Liberal Party, and them being consistently at the top of the OECD charts for education, health and infrastructure seem to indicate that their citizens are the better off for their decisions.
So what does that mean in real terms to us as the citizens that Menzies talked about? Do the majority of the country that voted their way believe that the Liberal Party will help them and the economy and will propel the country ahead of the rest of the world?
Let us look at the USA, which is one of the largest countries around that have moved way ahead on the long road of how the Liberal Party thinks and is pushing hard to mirror. When looking at their OECD income distribution database numbers (2011) we can see that 17.4% of Americans has an income less than 50% of their national median income and the average income of the top 10% is 15.9 times higher than the average income of the bottom 10%. Now when you compare that with Finland, the numbers are 7.3% and 5.4 respectively.
Naturally, if you happen to be in the top 10% in the country you would be very happy in the USA, not so if you are from the 17.4% on low incomes. Now, this becomes worse still when you put in mind that they don’t have a safety net, they don’t offer universal health cover (Obama Care is not yet in full swing and if the Republicans have anything to do with it, they will make it vanish all together).
People in Finland on the other hand, seem to be fairing better, though they do have 7.3% with income less than 50% of their national median income, however, that should be put in context of the government providing full health cover, education and pensions not to mention even high speed broadband is considered a minimum government guaranteed service.
In our last election, the Liberal Party managed to get a major win, with now securing a very comfortable majority in the house of representatives. It is very intriguing to try to ascertain what do all the Australians that voted their way think that the Liberal Party will achieve for them and the country’s future?
The last time the Liberal Party was in power, it lasted for 11 years, they went through one of the biggest resources booms we have ever seen, yet, other than the GST, nothing pops in mind that they did, especially in regards to furthering the long term interests of Australia. No big projects, no sovereign wealth fund for the hard times. They did managed to have a measly $50 billion surplus after 11 years of a boom! That amount of money is a drop in the ocean in the scheme of things, not to mention, they got that surplus, after neglecting health, infrastructure, education and selling everything that they could sell.
I basically can’t see it. So…….
What is it that Australians that voted for the Liberal Party in the 2013 election, think they will do for our country in the long and even short term to benefit us and our children and the country as a whole?