The annual CPAC Australia takes place this weekend in Sydney. It may be the most important yet.
The Chairman of CPAC Australia, Nyunggai Warren Mundine, Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, former prime minister, Tony Abbott, and former deputy prime minister John Anderson are among the keynote speakers.
All four are prominent advocates of the ‘No’ vote on the upcoming referendum to include an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and the Executive into the Constitution.
This voice debate has become quite a dangerous moment for our country. Rather than being the unifying force its proponents claim, Australia is seemingly more divided than ever.
Mr. Mundine and Ms. Price have been the target of some of the most disgraceful personal attacks I have seen in my 30 years following politics.
We have a prime minister committed to implementing “in full” a statement (the Uluru Statement from the Heart) that he hasn’t fully read, in, as Sky News Australia host Peta Credlin pointed out, a bad case of endorsing the cover but not the contents.
There’s also the risk Australians may be pressured by moral intimidation and the weight of advertising into abandoning our historic commitment to being, in the words of former prime minister Bob Hawke on Australia Day 1988, a country with “no hierarchy of descent” and “no privilege of origin.”
And then there’s the threat to free speech, justified on the grounds that any dissent from the Big Government, Big Business, Big Sport, and Big Tech line is somehow “misinformation.”
Moira Deeming will also be a speaker at CPAC.
Earlier this year, the Victorian Liberal Party expelled her from its parliamentary party room.
Call for ActionFollowing last year’s CPAC, I asked in these pages what will guide modern Australian conservatism at a time when to be a conservative is to belong to a minority—a remnant, if you will.
But being a remnant, or part of a remnant, is nothing new. It has happened many times in differing periods of history, and we need to learn from those occasions that the world emerged from the darkness.
On those occasions, the remnant was the positive influence, convinced that even if it may seem like it is too late, the only sensible thing to do is to act and behave as if it isn’t.
It may not guarantee success. But doing nothing guarantees failure.
As the Institute of Public Affairs Daniel Wild wrote in the 2021 edition of Essays for Australia:
“History is not an externally deterministic process. It is a product of human agency and application of free will of those who care the most.”
That is why the success of leaders such as Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni should come as no surprise.
Like many periods before ours, we live in times when the remnant—and these days, it is the conservative remnant—is an easy target. But it is vital that conservatives remain steadfast and faithful when it seems all is lost, to act and behave as if all is not lost.
“The way is not to erase our home; it is not to give up our freedom or our values: the way is to love our home and to make it even more solid and strong in bad weather. Roger Scruton said it best: ‘The real reason people are conservative is that they are attached to the things they love.’
“This is a time of uncertainty and crisis … From a crisis, we can emerge stronger and freer—and we can track the direction of a new path, a path in which we must have the ability to preserve what is precious and irreplaceable. Our identity, our history, our values, the civilisation we built.”
Conservatives can no longer afford to be quiet or forgotten. All of us have an important contribution to preserve what we hold dear: valuing the individual ahead of the collective, embracing free enterprise and supporting freedom of speech, worship and association, and the ideal of equality before the law—no privilege of origin, no hierarchy of descent. These are the pillars upon which our democracy rests.
I also wrote last year that the motto of CPAC Australia is “Your voice is your weapon.” Conservatives must find their voice and start fighting. In the words of Shakespeare: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”
At this most critical time in Australia’s history, CPAC will serve as that rallying call.