It’s time to face facts, there is a dirty word in Australian politics: ‘freedom’.
The ‘freedom movement’ is not popular and thatis a hard pill to swallow for many liberty-loving Aussies.
Australia does not have an embattled history of freedom, like the United States. We did not fight for our freedom, we accepted British rule. While our Forces have gallantly fought for freedom on foreign soil, we have never had to fight this battle at home. ‘Liberty’ is more likely to be associated with a petrol station than the fundamental tenet of Western society.
All we need to do is look to election results to see where the freedom movement stands in Australia. And while I am not suggesting all hope is lost, we are a very long way from the majority. When I mention this to some, they have a hard time accepting it. From ‘rigged’ elections to lies, damn lies – the excuses are endless.
ELECTIONS ARE NOT ‘RIGGED’
The first stage of grief is denial and the final stage is acceptance. It’s time we move out of denial and work towards acceptance, lest we remain permanently traumatised.
It is obvious that Australia is a coddled nation.
When something goes wrong we turn to the government for solutions. When there is a tragic accident on a local road, we cry for lower speed limits. When a new start-up industry emerges, we demand bureaucracy and regulation. When we fall on hard times, we beg the government for money. ‘Personal responsibility’ is a term that dare not be uttered in our holy chambers of Parliament.
It is no surprise that many parts of Australia endured some of the longest and harshest COVID restrictions on the planet. And it should come as no surprise that ‘freedom parties’ only achieved approximately 10 per cent of the Senate vote in the May 2022 Federal Election.
ALL IS NOT LOST
Deep down in the Australian psyche there is a rugged pioneer spirit. A spirit that saw a land filled with hardscrabble deserts and dangerous animals turned into one of the most prosperous nations on Earth. We must tap into that.
It is also worth noting, 10 per cent is not nothing. Before the American Revolutionary War, less than 10 per cent of the people of the then-colonies supported independence. By the end of the War, it was almost universally supported and now it is often considered the true beginning of the United States. I am not suggesting we take up arms against our government, but highlighting that a critical mass is all that is needed and 10 per cent is more than enough to form a critical mass.
THE BATTLEGROUND OF CULTURE
Politics is always downstream from culture, so we must take this battle to academia, HR departments and, most importantly, suburban Australia.
The success of the Greens and the left-wing movement is no accident, it is the result of decades of grassroots campaigning. Fighting block-by-block, street-by-street and house-by-house. Slowly ensuring left-wing ideology remains an insoluble part of Australian culture. This has only recently translated into consistent electoral success.
Political parties are entities specifically designed for electing candidates to public offices, and perhaps it is convenient of me to say (being the President of a political party), but there is only so much political parties can do to shape the battleground of culture.
Become an empowered individual. Become a community organiser. Become a local leader of liberty. Whether it’s your local footy club, your place of work or even just amongst your family and friends, become the person who lives and breathes the fundamental values of liberty: free-speech, free-association, bodily autonomy and personal responsibility. Apply these values to your everyday life. Be the go-to person for these issues in your community. Before you know it, you will be someone who can regularly and reliably activate 10, 20, or even 50 people.
UNITY OVER DIVISION
Imagine thousands of people across Australia who can regularly and reliably call upon 50 people for grassroots campaigning and volunteering; politics will take care of itself. But this does not mean political parties can get away with doing nothing. Political parties must support these people where they can, without turning them into partisans.
Liberty-minded political parties also need to put aside their differences. The Greens average at least two Senate seat per state because they are one unified entity, rather than several disparate entities. This means they can ensure voter discipline and, ultimately, electoral success – and if they do fail, they can ensure their preferences are headed Labor’s way.
If the freedom movement voted as a bloc and practised preference discipline, we would see similar results for the United Australia Party, One Nation and the Liberal Democrats.
But despite tireless campaigns to ‘put the majors last’, it rarely materialises in electoral success.
In the recent Victorian Election, we saw ‘freedom-friendly minor parties’ choose tactics of division rather than unity. This was a squandered opportunity. Under a group-ticket system (which, contrary to popular belief, is a far superior system), several parties opted to direct their preferences to the Liberal Party before other like-minded minor parties. This very nearly resulted in the Liberal Party gaining a second seat in South-East Metro, to the exclusion of Liberal Democrats MP David Limbrick.
But it is easy to criticise others and not so easy to lead by example, so I will leave with this:
I am willing to work with any like-minded political party (or independent) to the fullest extent. Nothing is off the table, from party mergers to formal coalitions to ensuring greater preference discipline. If we are ever to succeed, we need unity now more than ever.
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While always avidly following politics and culture, James Hol was not politically active until the overreaction to COVID. In a matter of months, James gained invaluable insight into all levels of government, being heavily involved in Federal, state and local election campaigns.