Bernardi, Hanson invite real conservatives to join them, by Rachael Blaxendale.
Malcolm Turnbull’s comments that the Liberals have never been a conservative party have inspired Cory Bernardi and Pauline Hanson to launch a fresh recruitment drive, arguing real conservatives should join their parties.
During a speech in London overnight the Prime Minister argued that Liberal Party founder Robert Menzies was a moderate, progressive leader, and referred to Tony Abbott’s notion of the “sensible centre” as the place to be in an apparent swipe at his predecessor.
Conservative commentator Alan Jones said the speech showed the PM doesn’t understand his own party, while former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett accused Mr Turnbull of showing an “appalling lack of political judgement”.
Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz, a staunch conservative and Abbott ally, accused the media of dishonestly spinning the speech to inflame tensions, and conservative and liberal cabinet ministers ranging from Josh Frydenberg to Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne locked in behind Mr Turnbull.
Senator Bernardi, who early this morning accused Mr Turnbull of “rewriting history”, has this afternoon released a new flyer for his Australian Conservatives party.
Conservative cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg earlier locked in behind the PM’s comments, describing his as “considered and powerful”. ..
Mr Frydenberg said anyone who sought to criticise the speech should be reminded of the recent anniversary of Sir Robert Menzies’ “Forgotten People” address.
“He made it very clear in that address that we were a party that didn’t represent big business and big money because they could look after themselves, indeed we were not a party established to look after organised labour because they were represented by the unions,” he said.
“We were a party that was established to look after the forgotten people. That is the bulk of the people who don’t have organised labour to look after them and who are not represented by big business, so I think the Prime Minister’s speech today, in so far as it focused on the broad traditions of the Liberal Party really tapped that important vein of the forgotten people and the fact that we as a party are the only party who can represent them and indeed we are the most successful party of Australia’s history, having governed for the majority of time since the Liberal Party was established in 1944.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop … said the speech should not antagonise conservative colleagues. …
“It’s an historically accurate account of how our founder Robert Menzies called the Liberal Party a progressive party, believing in freedom and the rights of individuals and free enterprise and how Menzies expressly rejected naming the party the conservative party because it was to combine liberal and conservative traditions, what John Howard always referred to as the ‘broad church’ or what Tony Abbott called the ‘sensible centre’, and of course it is in stark contrast to Labor, who believe in big government and is entirely beholden to the unions.”
hat-tip Stephen Neil