A Liberal Party in the 21st Century


A Liberal Party in the 21st Century

Principles, politics and the big issues of our time


“Unless we have ideas to offer we cannot develop a real sense of conviction, a real instinct of political faith, and this election will be just one more election on top of those which have gone. Just one more election will never do.” 

Robert Menzies, Founder of the Australian Liberal Party, 1894-1978



The battle for ideas

A sensible political party should be as contemplative in victory as in defeat.

The 2019 expectation-defying coalition victory offers optimism for a party that places the highest premium on individual and private sector initiative, basic freedoms, strong communities and a thriving parliamentary democracy.

Yet it is our times, and not political calculation, that demand little rest. The politics of left and right are being eclipsed by the politics of culture and identity. Today’s debate on the role of government is not so much about size but effectiveness. And while the progressive parties appear incapable of offering a compelling vision for the future, let alone presenting a picture of competence, the charm of easy politics should never see them discounted as a formidable foe.

There is also an ongoing and constant element of introspection required for future Liberal governments, oppositions and party members. How do Liberal principles and ideas apply? What is being done as a party to attract and persuade Australians? How are Liberal policies better, or can they be better, than the other team’s?

Australian governments and political parties today operate in a much more contested space than in living political memory. A rolling and principled liberal and conservative policy agenda will have at its core the things that Australians instinctively believe in – strong and prosperous individuals, thriving communities, a rewarding economy, and a nation proud of its heritage.

In practical policy terms this means giving individuals and commerce space to flourish, opening up new frontiers, making life easier for families, delivering dignity to people, and restoring Australia’s confidence of its place in the region and the world.

The dignity of work and children  

There are few immediate examples of where these principles intersect, or are more-needed, than the increasing unaffordability of childcare.

Each year parents put half of Australian children into some form of childcare. Yet waiting lists can be as high as two years and, since 2011, costs have gone up by over 20 per cent. By outpacing inflation, increasing costs have put obvious pressure on family budgets while undermining options for parents to either look after their children or return to work. And taxpayers, in a bid to keep costs down, will pay around $10 billion on childcare subsidies over the next four years.

Whenever we see a problem like this – constrained supply, upward costs and more stress on the public purse – the usual culprits are special interests or regulation. Mandatory staff-to-child ratios and qualification rules for childcare workers, put in place by national Labor governments, have added around $1.2 billion to childcare costs in Australia.

If childcare objectives are to strengthen unions and squeeze out smaller non-unionised providers then tighter regulations make sense. But these are not Liberal objectives, which are to ease costs on families, create choices for parents, and enable providers to meet parental and community needs. Despite the false cloaking of ‘worker rights’ it’s important not to lose sight of fundamentals – that unions exist for unions and not for children, parents or families.

Decades ago, politicians like Hawke and Keating, or Howard and Costello, would’ve relished the general character of taking on this policy and political challenge. A principled Liberal response would sensibly ease staff-to-child ratios and childcare provider qualification rules. As any parent can attest – raising and caring for children doesn’t require a certificate or union endorsement. Uncompromising on safety, sound Liberal reform not only eases costs, creates choice and encourages workforce participation but ensures the billions spent on childcare each year is put to good use.

Energy frontiers – clear about advantage  

For all the discussion about how important our ‘image’ is in Asia, or globally, our approach to energy must generate more than a ripple of confusion.

The Adani Carmichael coal mine project, designed to satisfy India’s appetite for coal, recently emerged from eight years in the approvals process, fighting more than 10 legal challenges and overcoming unique compliance hurdles including a 22,000-page environmental impact statement. Actions like these must leave India – a key regional neighbour of one billion people, a quarter of which live in poverty, and where people seek enough power just to keep the lights on – staggered at the priorities of some Australian decision-makers.

In the heat of recent public discussion around resources we’ve forgotten something simple and fundamental to our national story – the respect generations of Australians have placed on the land and the elements of habitat, resources, livestock and the ecosystem. For these and many other Australians there has been no value in environmental depletion and resource abuse. Indeed, the nation has pioneered when it has come to a creative and innovative balance between resource use and the environment. The stump jump plough, the combine harvester, and rust resistant wheat, for example, are less observed yet important examples of this instinctive equity throughout our history.

But resource sector activism, and its downstream politics, is the example of over-tilting this balance in our time. It has undermined the ‘open for business’ message Australia needs at a time of low-cost global energy competitiveness, and where coal still provides 38 per cent of global electricity. And it has left Australians without power, given us some of the highest energy bills in the world, and second-guessed good economics by pushing billions of taxpayer money toward questionable renewable energy initiatives.

Energy frontiers – nuclear reform  

This picture becomes more puzzling in terms of nuclear power. We are the world’s third largest uranium exporter – contributing to 2 billion tonnes of annual global carbon reduction – but the only G20 country with nuclear power banned by federal legislation.

The reasonable opposition to nuclear energy in Australia is that there is no bipartisan or state support, no strong business case, and that we have ‘missed the boat’ in terms of more favourable battery technology. These are all fair points. But it is a unique litmus test for rigorous policy reform, and especially where government action has been the defining factor on whether an Australian nuclear sector thrives or fails.

A decision to exclude nuclear power, and prohibit enrichment, has set us back from exploring respective opportunities around smaller modular reactors and the potential to add billions to Australia’s economy. A reasonable approach to a nuclear opportunity is to lift a ban on enrichment; aggressively support initiatives on disposal, decommissioning and waste; and ensure nuclear technology is given a space at the multi-billion-dollar energy subsidy table.

A practical approach does not mean nuclear power plants emerging overnight across Australia. But it does enable distortions in the energy industry to subside, lets a wider energy market economy find its feet, validates us as a reliable energy neighbour, and unlocks a vastly under-utilised revenue and future energy source.

Tax principles – less is more  

The Liberal Party should always seek to take less money out of the pockets of all Australians. This objective is not an easy one to follow. Income tax came into effect at the start of last century but had a narrow focus to support wartime measures. But now even wartime measures are entirely incomparable to the successive commitments that governments now provide and taxpayers expect.

Almost a decade ago, the Henry Tax Review made three points. First, the fiscal pressures on successive governments from an ageing population. Second, the need for revenue growth. And third, the consistency and application of a broad-based consumption tax.

Specifics aside, the review was the last time we had a broad national conversation on taxation without a complex plunge into EMTRs, bracket creep or LITOs. Even a simple and clear-sighted proposal to lower the corporate tax rate is often detoured by complexity or a dictation on how corporations should structure their wages.

We are often told how little difference there is between the major parties. But the clear difference is in how the parties approach business. Liberals see commercial intercourse as the strong horse that pulls the cart, to borrow from an old British prime minister, while Labor sees it as a cow to be milked.

Worth remembering is that Australia is unique in the relative importance in its economy of small business, especially as an employer, compared to other advanced nations. But small business owners typically lack hours in the day and do battle with complex business tax, GST, labor laws and cash transactions reporting.  Governments can help them by keeping taxes and charges low, and by ensuring precious hours that should be spent on business are not wasted on not just inflated taxes but regulation and form filling. If the government is going to insist on complex and extensive tax and regulation it must accept the corollary costs of running this system and not pass it off to small business.

Ultimately, it is impossible to continue to be a great nation without a strong economy, and in the contemporary discussion on tax reform we have lost sight of simple truths – lower taxes help businesses and grows the economy, which creates jobs, raises livings standards and increases productivity.

An ongoing national discussion on tax reform should place these ideas at its core and feed a renewed national discussion around dynamism and growth. Although the age of ‘grand bargain’ tax reform is no longer with us, doing so could lead to the largest deregulation and expansion of the economy since the 1980s.

Better competition

If Liberals should take less money of the pockets of Australians then we should also create room for people to take account of and manage their own money. The clearest example of this has emerged around Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs), which deprive the financial advice sector of an estimated $14 to $20 billion annually in fees.

Unsurprisingly, this leads to continual pressure on regulators to shake up and cloud the SMSF arena with expensive over-regulation, driven by arguments that people need to be protected from themselves, even though the Productivity Commission – and countless common sense Australians – have claimed for years that people are better at handling their own money.

This issue, or at least its intervening characteristics, reveals a contemporary trial to a timeless government challenge of ‘captive regulators’ – where a regulatory body of well-meaning public servants with no industry training co-op industry representatives who are more than willing to explain what needs to be done. A tendency to coalesce and monopolise is prevalent in many industries, from controlling the amount of medical specialists that ultimately expand waiting lists and expenses, to other professions with bizarre entry barriers, typically around safety, that prevent pathways for Australians to craft a career pathway and better serve consumers.

A fix on the SMSF issue, at least in the short term, is for the Australian Tax Office to cease threats of $4,000 fines for SMSF holders that do not have a written investment policy that allows property investment. This is an odd directive – individuals, let alone any public company, do not need any written investment policy before purchasing anything. Removing these requirements is a humbled but good place to start. More broadly, limiting captive regulation requires regulatory vigilance – a vigilance against monopolised behaviour and activities that prohibit choice and competition.

The index patient – a better federation  

Too often we examine the politics of government and exclude how government works. But there can be great benefit in improving the mechanics of state without disruptive and uncertain wholescale constitutional furniture-shifting that reflects genuine societal change, drives accountability, and makes government more effective.

The biggest unnecessary change to our structure of government – an Australian republic – has deflated for another electoral term. Our constitutional monarchy has been fundamental to Australia’s success, and the longer this debate is relegated the better.

But this enthusiasm to fundamentally change our nation, and the list of other constitutional reforms before us, misses the more tedious acts where this ‘reform energy’ may apply. A few years ago the Abbott government attempted the toughest reform since federation – the reform of federation of itself.

Why? In straightforward terms a more effective federation is the ‘index patient’ of better government – seeking to limit overlap, duplication, waste and the ‘blame game’ between the federal and state governments. And proper federation reform goes beyond the confusing sea of performance measures and intergovernmental agreements put in place by Labor governments.

Critics say this national debate on federation suffered from the absence of a clear starting point. To avoid a repeat here, I hope, is a clear starting point – return all education and health responsibilities to the state governments. This was the wisdom originally envisaged in the constitution that, although now exceedingly bold, could be achieved over two electoral terms with strong state and territory support.

There are clearly huge hurdles in proper federation reform. The chief obstacle will, ultimately, emerge through taxation and not service delivery. With states and territories collecting only 15 percent of total income tax revenue, their obvious question will be how to run their respective education systems and public hospitals without reaching further into people’s pockets.

Thinking of this challenge in reverse, GST reform was only possible because the Howard government shed so many unnecessary state taxes. Careful reform would not wind these reforms back but ensure a balance that achieves the vision of a working federation limiting overlap, duplication, waste and the ‘blame game’ between the federal and state governments.

The business of accountability  

A better federation has, at its core, more accountability. But there are two other ways that clean lines of responsibility and a more accountable framework for government can be secured.

First, more reasonable representation in the federal house of representatives requires the careful creation of more seats. A single member of parliament now represents over 100,000 voters, which has obvious shortfalls in terms of electoral and representative expectations.

Second, the creation of new states needs to be seriously explored beyond part time campaigners and public affairs commentary. While challenging conservative Liberal instincts, new states offer an opportunity for greater localism and enhanced democratic accountability. North Queensland is an obvious candidate, with over 75 percent of Queensland’s 93 state electoral divisions sitting north of the Sunshine Coast. A constitutional convention would be required to debate this issue, which directly impacts many more Australians than the other ideas for constitutional reform currently being considered.

Both reforms offer more politicians – perhaps not an appetising objective. But they offer a genuine form of local scrutiny, deliberative democracy and civic accountability that contrasts to our polarising forms of political scrutiny – a 24-hour media cycle and social media.

Australian statecraft – relaxed and comfortable  

Foreign policy is domestic policy. And, for that reason, Australia’s foreign policy is generally quiet, considered and, ultimately, pragmatic. This pragmatism is built on true statecraft – knowing our strengths and understanding when timing is critical to our international and regional efforts.

It is this kind of thinking from past Liberal leaders that gave us a post-war trade deal and friendship with brutal former enemy Japan (Menzies and McEwen), the soft power of the Colombo Plan (Spender), and the courage to end the White Australia Policy (Holt). Our foreign affairs apparatus, staffed by some of the most skilled civil servants in the world, has served us entirely well in meeting the regional foreign policy challenges of our time – the Bougainville Crisis; East Timorese independence; the Bali bombings; counter terrorism ties with Indonesia; state breakdown in the Solomon Islands; the Asian financial crisis; and a unique trading relationship with China and other regional powerhouses.

This foresight continues to pay dividends in terms of regional links and our deep and values-driven alliances. Nations can share interests but, ultimately, not all can share values. And John Howard’s masterful line that Australia need not choose between its history and its geography, while frustrating critics, will be as current in half a century as it is today.

Australian statecraft – strategic horizons and challenges  

But there are three broad strategic challenges that will test Liberal and other thinkers and leaders in Australian foreign policy. The first is around enhancing the Australia-US alliance by using greater political leadership to draw the US into the region. President Obama’s Asian pivot, for example, or the US-Australia-Papua New Guinea joint naval facility, are commitments that deserve vigorous political follow up beyond statements of intent or ‘announcables’.

Second, it is now entirely clear that only a Liberal administration can deliver strong borders, which does more to enhance Australia’s global reputation than many imagine. Maintaining this posture, after all, is a critical chemistry of political disincentives, regional networks and multilateral cooperation. But the ‘trickle-down’ effect of a strong border regime also demonstrates to the world a rigorous immigration program – a comparative advantage in our current global climate.

The third strategic challenge we face is being more creative injecting values into our foreign assistance and diplomatic efforts. The Government’s Sports Diplomacy 2030 Strategy is a small but important example of moving in this direction, which embeds sporting concepts that cut across borders – respect for rules, fair play, discipline and learning from failure. Governments are now cautious of speaking in such tones, especially in terms of offshore assistance. But from our own history, these values have informed social cohesion and enlivened commerce. Australia’s early economic success, for example, was built on sound institutions but accessible and corresponding attitudes of thrift, industry, and frugality. We should do everything to promote these values in our region and abroad.

Being creative also means rejuvenating the connection between our aid program with free market economics, capitalism and the needs of small business across the region. Often we look to seasonal worker programs, for example, or remittance flows, as forms of assistance when we should be paying acute attention to assisting our Polynesian and Melanesian neighbours in their plans for dynamism and economic growth. A percentage point of GDP growth, after all, can produce more opportunities than years of remittance or seasonal labour from a well-meaning aid bureaucracy in Canberra.

Australia has a great deal to offer nations beyond our borders. Menzies, in The Measure of the Years, noted the importance his governments placed on exhibiting “to the world an integrity in which the world believes”. Australian statecraft, sustained and refreshed by new ideas, will be critical for our own integrity and our perception in the world.

What not to do  

Inversion offers great lessons in life but also in politics. And Liberals can learn three lessons from the errors of the modern Labor Party.

First, the Rudd prime ministership shows that a frenetic approach to government – a poorly administered home insultation scheme, an under-costed National Broadband Network, an overly-bureaucratic school halls program and a confused border security regime – dampens a respect for the integrity of government and removes a critical part of good government – trust.

Second, modern Labor has become so captured by green politics and an out of touch agenda that the Liberal Party has become the only stable electoral home for themes of tradition, family, stability and aspiration. As one recent voter in the federal election made clear:

“I actually took the ‘big end of town’ reference to property investors as a personal insult. I’m a truck driver, 63, work 6 and 7 days a week, I live in a 3 bedroom transportable house, save as much as I can and have 1 rental property. I don’t think I’m from the big end of town! I’m a blue collar hard working Australian. Labor insulted me for being that. 

Electoral strategists and hard maths will tell you that electoral victory exponentially increases by ‘leveraging the swings’ in marginal seats. But, in everyday terms, it is achieved by capturing the integrity of voters like these – presenting a positive political vision motivated by regular Australians.

The third lesson, while not necessarily from modern Labor, is around party discipline. Leakages, whether from cabinets or at any level of party collective, signify division. And, even at times of watershed policy performance, its slightest appearance can provoke a firestorm.  Future coalition governments, oppositions and party members will no doubt need to continue vigorous debate but, ultimately, operate on a unified front.

Powering the party machine

A unified Liberal front also relies on an effective Liberal party machine. As in all parties, there is an obvious tension in the Liberal Party between part-timers and political professionals. Mums, dads and volunteers on one hand, for example, and staffers and the Party executive on the other. This is an imperfect distinction but it alludes to the ‘broad church’ of the Party, contrasting heavily with the ALP, which was created by unions and remains far too captive to Union power brokers and Party apparatchiks.

The Liberal Party, however, has always aimed for a powerful mass membership with genuine control over the Party and its direction. Menzies himself always referred to this membership as the sensible ‘ballast’ that would ensure the Party remained reflective and in touch with its community. This is absolutely vital in our time and there are three principles to ensure this balance remains.

First, barriers to Party entry must remain sensible but low. Mandatory membership times, usually twelve months for voting and pre-selection, should remain strongly enforced. Second, the emergence of branch ‘cliques’ should be guarded against and pre-selection plebiscites be put in place. Third, a ‘one hat’ approach for members running for pre-selection or a party executive position needs to be put in place. A full-time political professional will always have more time, for example, even if not more natural ability, to devote to Party affairs than a highly qualified Liberal Party volunteer. And a corporate lobbyist can certainly be a Party official but, at the same time, cannot be both.

The individual  

Identity politics seriously challenges social cohesion. And the rootlessness some in our communities feel, and the recognition they demand, is only spurred on by undermining our unifying symbols like the national flag and Australia Day.

But to counter identity politics Liberals offer something distinct – a deep commitment to the individual but also to shared national identity. Liberals are not uncomfortable speaking of liberty in the same breath of the things to actually make it work – responsibility, a respect for institutions, tradition, family, duty, community and, in turn, love of country. Liberals know that seeing people as individuals, and not as part of a group, is what gives them dignity. For all of these things Liberals also know that a belief in individuals is not selfishness – it is a recognition for people to act, seek reward, create, innovate, fail, succeed and, at the same time, create communities.

Offering individuals something to counter identity politics is more than re-igniting the culture wars but involves speaking to a much deeper civic identity. Liberals should be proud of the broad appeal of their instincts, not just across people but across time. Where else could Liberal principles be more apparent than in the dignified and earnest elements that built Australia, which forged an individually thriving but socially cohesive colony, created space for environmental mastery and the expansion of commerce, sustained respect for parliamentary democracy and basic human rights, and helped forge a deep military tradition defending freedom against aggression and conquest.

In not just identity politics but in the wider challenges of our time we are also seeing the increasing pressures on individuals, which in turn calls for more and not less Liberal appeal. Historians underline our new plateau to the ‘knowledge economy’, distinct from the age of hunter gatherer, agriculture, and the ‘big tool’ economy of industrialisation, urbanisation and mass migration. Automation, we are told, means Australian children will, in the first decade of their careers, change not just jobs but entire industries over three times. And seasoned commentators note that our contemporary populist flashpoints will, from the future, be seen as the eclipse of the politics of left and right by the politics of culture and identity.

All these factors point to rediscovering our shared national identity and not creating an entirely new one. Liberals can offer a philosophical toolkit to responding to these challenges – a framework for aspiration, the space for people to search for meaning in work and in their communities, and a long and proud history of moulding diversity into a shared civic identity.

Principles of the time – the telescope not the microscope  

Just as good artists, poets or musicians respond to the unique nature of their time so must good, principled and practical politics.

A notable criticism Menzies made of Labor “was that it tended to live in the past, on old hatreds and shibboleths, pursing a current policy which demanded bigger and better pensions and other social benefits, fighting old and losing battles about issues long since dead.” He added that “no symptom emerged of a real study of basic policy. Like the Bourbons, they learned nothing and forgot nothing.” The Liberal Party prospers because it learns from something and forgets nothing.

In possessing a proud history, though, Liberals understand there is caution in philosophical purity or reaching to a Menzies, or a Howard, for every policy play or new idea. The challenges can change, as is said, but the principles remain the same. In his time Harold Holt, for example, said the Liberal Party stood for the “four decencies”: a good job, a home, adequate social security and an expanded educational service. Today, however, Liberals tend to battle over the quality of education and not its expansion. Menzies, too, deliberated over policies on government intervention and national wealth that do not apply today.

Not all of the ideas in this piece are silver bullets. Indeed, with time’s passage, I suspect new ideas will emerge and challenge them. Many Liberals will also disagree with these priorities and possess their own. But I hope they invigorate Liberals and others to think hard about applying the Party’s beliefs – strong and prosperous individuals, thriving communities, a rewarding economy, and a nation proud of its heritage – to the supreme challenges of our time.


SEAN JACOBS has been a member of the Liberal Party for over ten years.



The dignity of work and children

Since 2011, cost increases going up by over 20 percent. Eugenie Joseph, ‘Why childcare is not affordable,’ Centre for Independent Studies, 29 August 2018, https://www.cis.org.au/app/uploads/2018/08/rr37-snapshot-emb.pdf.

$10 billion on childcare subsidies over the next four years. Gideon Rozner, ‘Childcare Costs? Thank Unions And Government’, Institute of Public Affairs, 29 March 2018, https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/in-the-news/childcare-costs-thank-unions-and-government?highlight=childcare.

Energy frontiers – clear about advantage

Adani’s 22,000-page environmental impact statement. Daniel Wild, ‘Delayed Adani Approval Highlights Australia’s Red Tape Crisis,’ Institute of Public Affairs, 13 June 2019, https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/delayed-adani-approval-highlights-australias-red-tape-crisis.

Coal providing 38 percent of global electricity. ‘Coal & electricity,’ World Coal Association, https://www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-coal/coal-electricity.

Energy frontiers – nuclear reform

Australia’s nuclear exports contributing to a wider total 2 billion tonnes of global carbon each year from the earth’s atmosphere. Australian Nuclear Association, ‘Nuclear Power – some facts,’ 22 August, 2018, http://www.nuclearaustralia.org.au/nuclear-power-some-facts/.

Uranium enrichment and fabrication opportunities amounting to billions. Ziggy Switkowski, ‘Nuclear power in Australia,’ ABC Science, 7 March 2007, https://www.abc.net.au/science/programs/nuclearpower/.

Less is more – better regulation

The $14 to $20 billion in fees that SMSFs deprive the financial advice sector is based on 2 percent (average fee total) of a $750 billion SMSF industry.  The $750 billion figure is based on 2016-17 ATO data.  See ‘ATO statistics send positive message about SMSFs,’ SMSF Association, 16 May 2019, https://www.smsfassociation.com/ato-statistics-send-positive-message-about-smsfs/.

The index patient – a better federation

The absence of a clear starting point for federation reform. See Cheryl Saunders’ comments in David Donaldson, ‘Why we gave up on federalism reform (this time),’ The Mandarin, 5 May 2016, https://www.themandarin.com.au/64341-happened-federalism-white-paper/.

States and territories collecting 15 percent of total income tax revenue. ‘Reform of the federation discussion paper,’ 2015, Australian Parliamentary Office, https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2015/06/apo-nid55457-1192861.pdf, page 9.

The business of accountability

A single member of parliament represents around 100,000 voters. John Roskam and Daniel Wild, ‘20 policies to fix Australia,’ Institute of Public Affairs, https://ipa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/IPA-Research-20-Policies-to-Fix-Australia.pdf, page 2.

Australian statecraft – relaxed and comfortable

Foreign policy achievements of past Liberal leaders. Josh Frydenberg, ‘The Liberal tradition in Australian foreign policy’ in Daniel Baldino, Andrew Carr, Anthony Langlois (eds), Australian Foreign Policy – Controversies and Debates, 3 March 2014, https://joshfrydenberg.com.au/latest-news/the-liberal-tradition-in-australian-foreign-policy-2/.

Australian statecraft – strategic horizons and challenges

Shortfalls of remittance and labour migration schemes. Gaurav Sodhi, ‘Migration scheme won’t solve Pacific’s problems,’ ABC News Online, 21 August 2008, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-08-21/migration-scheme-wont-solve-pacifics-problems/485236.

Menzies on “exhibiting to the world an integrity in which the world believes”. Robert Menzies, The Measure of the Years, Coronet Books, London, 1970, page 99.

What not to do

Voter’s comments taken from Facebook response to Alan Jones post 19 May 2019, https://www.facebook.com/alanjonesaustralia/posts/400299823896299?comment_id=400314260561522&reply_comment_id=400353907224224&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R%22%7D.

The individual

The ‘knowledge economy’ as distinct from other historical ages, and Australian children changing industries three times (adapted from US information). Ben Sasse’s comments in Rob Tracinski, ‘Senator Ben Sasse on an Era of Unprecedented Disruption,’ Real Clear Future, 14 August 2017, http://www.realclearfuture.com/articles/2017/08/14/senator_ben_sasse_on_an_era_of_unprecedented_disruption_111965.html.

Commentary that our contemporary populist flashpoints will be seen as the eclipse of the politics of left and right by the politics of culture and identity. David Goodhart, The Road to Somewhere: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics, Penguin Random House, New Zealand, 2017, page 1.

Menzies criticism of Labor “was that it tended to live in the past, on old hatreds and shibboleths”. Robert Menzies in ‘Sir Robert Menzies on Politics,’ Menzies Research Centre, https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/ab5c75_939ae69e50314cd78094c46f8806d5fd.pdf, page 2.

Principles of the time – the telescope not the microscope

Harold Holt’s four decencies. Tom Frame, Harold Holt and the liberal imagination, Connor Court Publishing, Redland Bay, 2018, page 29.


Peter Sherghold, ‘Learning from Failure: why large government policy initiatives have gone so badly wrong in the past and how the chances of success in the future can be improved,’  Australian Public Service Commission, 12 August 2015, https://www.apsc.gov.au/learning-failure-why-large-government-policy-initiatives-have-gone-so-badly-wrong-past-and-how

Francis Fukuyama, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2018.

Image source: N. Herfort / Sydney Morning Herald

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