Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Keep the Liberal flame alive

A great Australian and a great Liberal laments the conservative take-over of the modern Liberal party and determines to stay in the party to support those who maintain that liberalism is the political philosophy best expressed to appeal to the aspirations of all Australians whilst building a compassionate, understanding and accepting society. (See eCouncillor earlier blog on an Australian Bill of Rights launched by Fraser at Sydney Town Hall).

Picture SMH - She won't be right Â… Malcolm Fraser yesterday.Photo: Jesse Marlow
Why I thought of quitting Libs

By Michael Gordon and Louise DodsonNovember 30, 2005

MALCOLM FRASER has considered quitting the Liberal Party after more than 50 years' membership, saying it has become "a party of fear and reaction".
The former prime minister said last night he had decided to remain a member to support those who were seeking to "keep the Liberal flame alive" and to encourage others to pursue change from within.
Delivering the chancellor's human rights lecture at the University of Melbourne, Mr Fraser said he found his party "unrecognisable as liberal" and alien to the principles of its founder, Robert Menzies. On the night the Government's anti-terrorist laws passed the House of Representatives, Mr Fraser singled them out, saying the legislation was wrong because "it makes the fundamental assumption that liberty cannot defend itself".
"The reason I considered [resignation] seriously is because I believe this is not just another piece of policy with which one doesn't agree," he said.
"Over several years there has been a fundamental departure from the basic idea of liberalism as I understood it. What I want to do is emphasise in the strongest possible way how serious this is, how people should not just let it fly over the shoulder and say 'She'll be right'."
Insisting it would be a long, hard task to achieve change, Mr Fraser said: "It might not be the next government. It might be the government after that. But there ought to be objectives to restore basic liberties and restore a true sense of the rule of law."
Mr Fraser joined the Liberal Party in the early 1950s. In the lecture, he said the Government's handling of the Tampa episode in 2001 marked "the effective end of the liberal age and the beginning of the period of regression".
The Government had failed to make a case for the new terrorism laws and any claim to be taken on trust had been destroyed, Mr Fraser said.
"The fact that the Government, with the support of the Opposition, has moved so far away from the rule of law demonstrates the fragility of our grasp of a liberal, democratic society," he said. "If we stand silent in the face of discrimination and in violation of the basic principles of humanity, then we betray our way of life."
Read more here.

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