Tom Switzer, former senior Liberal Policy advisor to Brendan Nelson, former Op-Ed Editor at the Australian and Research Fellow for the Institute of Public Affairs, is confident that the right is in control of the political agenda in Australia.
Writing in the SMH this week he said:
notwithstanding the loss of conservative government, the centre of political gravity in Australia remains conservative. No longer, for instance, is welfare seen as an unconditional right. No longer are activist judges rewriting our constitution. No longer are Australians ashamed of our past, pessimistic about our future and unsure about our place in the world. In this environment, why should Liberals lurch left when Labor could only win power by moving right?
Switzer’s fundamental political and cultural (as in Culture Wars) orientation is exactly that of John Howard’s. Just read that second last sentence again. Its almost verbatim what John Howard said was the greatest achievement of his regency.
Given that, I wonder if Tom Switzer shares Howard’s views that the media and Universities are dominated by an adversarial soft-left. And if so, how does Switzer account for his assertion, with which I agree, that the political centre of gravity in Australia is firmly controlled by the right.
Are the soft left so ineffective that even with control of both the media and Universities, the two most powerful opinion-shaping institutions in the world (behind the family) that they cannot change anyone’s mind ?
I wrote the following email to Tom Switzer. If he gives permission to quote from his reply you’ll be the first to know.
Dear Mr. Switzer,
I read your article No need for the Libs to move left in the SMH and found myself largely in agreement with it, particularly these thoughts of yours:
“notwithstanding the loss of conservative government, the centre of political gravity in Australia remains conservative. No longer, for instance, is welfare seen as an unconditional right. [snip] In this environment, why should Liberals lurch left when Labor could only win power by moving right?
I was wondering if you share John Howard’s beliefs that the media and Universities are dominated by the soft left (presumably since at least the Keating era) and if so, how is it that the centre of political gravity in Australia is conservative ? What conservative forces are countervailing the media and Universities to produce this rightward shift in our polity ?
Here are John Howard’s comments:
To the American Enterprise Institute inter alia Iraq:
“But perhaps the most convincing sign of all that some progress has been made is the significant decline in media coverage of Iraq – noticeable both in the United States and Australia. The dominant left-liberal elements in the media in both our countries apparently cannot bring themselves to acknowledge good news stories coming out of Baghdad.
To Quadrant Magazine 2006:
“Despite a more diverse and lively intellectual environment in Australia compared with past decades, we should not underestimate the degree to which the soft left still holds sway, even dominance, especially in Australia’s universities.”