This year belongs to the Quiet Australians

The illiberal left grows ever louder, but ordinary people are having none of it.

Nick Cater
Columnist

Australia’s spotless record of transitioning power without recourse to violence remains intact, unless you count the ugly incident with a corkscrew.

In the week before Scott Morrison’s historic election victory in May, a Sydney resident in an apparent state of rage about climate change or some such, inexplicably inflicted mild wounds on a supporter of former prime minister Tony Abbott.

That this minor entry in a police officer’s notebook should hit the front page is proof of what a civilised democracy Australia generally is.

Yet here, as in Britain, there is a flourishing school of thought that democracy is failing. It is a belief that justifies resorting to extra-democratic means to settle arguments and raises the temperature of social-media debate.

Happy country or hopeless country? Where one stands on this question depends on whether one is a quiet or a noisy Australian, terms coined by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to describe the contemporary cultural faultline in this well-blessed nation.

That Morrison’s terminology requires no elaboration to an international audience demonstrates how ubiquitous the divide has become in societies where open debate is allowed after two decades of 21st-century life.

In fairness, the divide has existed since history began to be recorded. The Zapotec priesthood, for example, exhibited all the characteristics of a noisy, needy and conceited elite as far back as the 4th century BC, when they extracted corn from Mesoamerican peasants in return for weather forecasts.

Yet never has the presumption of superior knowledge been so democratised as it is today in our highly educated time, nor its bearers so organised as they fight to have their way.

Watching the federal election count on a lovely Sydney autumn evening in May was possibly the most pleasant accompaniment to a cold beer I can remember in my three decades as a citizen of this country.

Having spent the day testing the mood at booths in Sydney’s far western suburbs, it was apparent there was only one way the vote could go. The pundits, however, remained convinced that Labor’s pledge to tax retirement savings and introduce job-destroying renewable-energy targets would be a hit with the middle class, right up until 8.25pm when the ABC’s election expert, in an apparent state of anaphylactic shock, called the result for Morrison.

It was an evening of schadenfreude that left one crying out for seconds.

There is nothing like a good, clean popular vote to reset the civic debate, as Boris Johnson’s victory was to do later in the year in Britain.

The results of the postmortem the Labor Party held into its defeat suggests it is not unaware of its problem, but it is clueless how to fix it in a world where the act of virtue-signalling threatens workers’ livelihoods and comfort.

Had the right to vote been stripped from citizens aged over 35, the Labor Party would have romped home, as Corbyn would have in Britain.

Exit polling indicates Labor was the preferred party of the educated professional classes, but not for the workers, the people in whose name it is supposed to exist.

Morrison’s victory, apparently against the odds, gives him command of a party more united than at any time since 2007. He is odds-on to become Australia’s first prime minister since John Howard to survive for a full term without being ousted by his colleagues.

Morrison has used his authority to declare war on the Blob, as Michael Gove famously called the expanding and apparently indestructible bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy-busting is his stated mission. His planned restructuring of government departments and his instructions to his ministers are aimed at reminding the mandarin class who is really in charge.

As Australia’s world-beating run of uninterrupted economic growth enters its 29th year, its citizens are enjoying the fruits of both prosperity and complacency.

Since the growth is largely sustained through the export of resources and the import of migrants, the underlying structural problems are little appreciated and, as a result, politically challenging to address.

The focus on reform remains fixed on the banking sector, a whipping boy upon which Quiet Australians can vent their frustrations on corporate bureaucracy in general.

Concern about sharp practices by banking executives is understandable in a nation where private wealth is spread more liberally and more widely than almost any other.

The list of economic challenges is long, however – energy prices, productivity and corporation taxation are among them, three policy areas in which Donald Trump’s US is leading the way.

Morrison’s victory failed, not unexpectedly, to settle the burning totemic issue of his times, climate change, or as some would have us call it, the climate emergency.

Energy policy was one of the biggest factors in the election and it was won by Morrison who framed it as an economic debate rather than a moral argument.

On this, as in every other policy issue, the Quiet Australians occupy the middle ground. They take care to recycle their household waste, pick up litter in the street and believe in taking reasonable precautions against future risk, providing there is not too great a cost.

The noisy minority, however, have become increasingly noisy, gluing themselves to the tarmac, serenading the prime minister by playing the bagpipes outside his Sydney residence, encouraging schoolchildren to strike and generally carrying on in a manner unbecoming to themselves and unhelpful to sensible discussion.

Their enthusiasm has been fanned by a drought in western districts of New South Wales and Queensland that is spreading to Victoria.

They justify their alarm with reference to bushfires and the smoke which has hung over Sydney for much of the late spring and early summer.

Bushfires are a natural feature of the Australian landscape that long predates the arrival of humankind. Plants and animals have evolved in tune with their cycle, regenerating through the burnt earth.

The bushfire threat once united civic-minded Australians. Volunteer firefighting brigades serve as what Edmund Burke called the little platoons, an enlisted army fighting a common foe.

This year, bushfires have come to divide Australians. That climate change might increase the likelihood and severity of bushfires has the ring of truthiness to it and warrants investigation.

Yet at this stage it is little more than a hunch without a firm empirical foundation. It may remain so, given the challenge of finding a reliable historical measure.

Bushfire season used to bring Australia together, inspiring private donations for its victims. Today it has become a burning stake by which to identify witches.

The inane question ‘do you accept that bushfires are proof of climate change?’ has become the stock-standard gotcha question for politicians and even fire chiefs appearing on the ABC.

Morrison has become the prime suspect, hauled before this tainted jury as the man we must blame for the smouldering undergrowth and destroyed homes.

Morrison’s ‘inaction’ on climate change may be the stated charge, but like President Trump’s impeachment, we suspect his real crime is his refusal to tip his hat to his accusers’ wokish nonsense.

Canada’s leader Justin Trudeau, we note in passing, is not yet being held responsible for the melting of the Arctic permafrost. Australia’s ‘inaction’ on climate has led to a 12 per cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions since 2005. Canada’s efforts have reined in emissions by only two per cent.

The centre-right may be good at winning elections these days, but it doesn’t mean it wins the argument.

Nick Cater is executive director of the Menzies Research Centre and a columnist for the Australian newspaper.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

S P Johnson

31st December 2019 at 8:40 pm

Meanwhile, ordinary Australians are sheltering on the beaches to escape raging fires caused by global warming. They are literally having to hide their heads in the sand, like their leader!

steve moxon

31st December 2019 at 9:24 pm

?! Come again?
It’s caused by the cessation of pre-emptively burning small areas for the very purpose of creating fire breaks to stop the small fires that regularly recur from developing into the sort of big fires that then threaten settlements … as the result of lobbying from greens to not thus denude forest!
You couldn”t make it up, but the green blob does every time.

Aslan Cattawi

3rd January 2020 at 10:02 pm

As ex Fire Commissioner Greg Mullins said on the 1/01/2020:
“Twenty nine former fire and emergency services chiefs and I have tried since April to meet with and brief Prime Minister Morrison about the decades-long worsening of bushfire conditions driven directly by global warming / climate change. We predicted an unprecedented bushfire catastrophe – like many others who have watched the risks increase Progressively, after consistently denying there is a problem or that action is needed, the PM has been forced to do things we recommended BEFORE the disaster hit. Too little, too late PM. Why do you have to be forced every centimetre of the journey to properly resource our emergency services and keep Australians safe?”

Emily Ava

31st December 2019 at 9:09 am

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Mike Stallard

31st December 2019 at 7:21 am

I have a daughter in Australia and want to thank you for this outstanding article which helps me a lot . Thank you and a very happy new year too!

David Webb

30th December 2019 at 4:47 am

Who cares about the Centre Right? Morrison is a Globalist who is a passionate supporter of immigration and multi-culturalism. His policies are aimed at security a non-Australian majority later in the century. If he cucks out that hard on the main race issue, let the left burn him on the bushfire issue.

H McLean

29th December 2019 at 11:06 pm

The problem with the ‘Quiet Australian’ approach to these issues is the woke middle-classes are practically given free reign in protesting and moaning, while most left-leaning moderates are either too apathetic to care about how unhinged the left has become, or are too scared to do anything but ‘go along’ with the confected outrage, leaving us with a large passive-regressive centre. They might have a say every election, but it does nothing to stop the incessant chatter of woke cultural Marxism in education and judicial policy. Who is going to put the brakes on this? Morrison?

No. Morrison is but a milquetoast conservative content to go with the flow while offering little resistance to the worst excesses of the woke left. He is a career politician and too constrained by Overton Window niceties to be capable of making a worthy mark on Australian politics and culture.

I’d like to see the end of the Australian Human Rights Commission and all attached legislation, because it now exists only to push left-wing dogma. Hate speech legislation should be repealed. Free speech should be properly codified and legally protected. I also think Australia should leave the UN and unilaterally withdraw from the 1951 Convention on Refugees, again because the conditions that made it necessary no longer exist, and it only exists to be exploited. As a western enlightened country we can surely make our own policies on migration, ones better suited to current circumstances. For those who might think these proposals excessive, I’ve long considered myself a centrist and have the political compass tests to prove it.

Morrison may be a bulwark against the increasingly unhinged nature of the Labor/Greens middle classes, but only because he stands under the Liberal Party banner, not because of any structured political ideology he may hold. What we really need is a leader who is completely unfazed in the face of the left’s shaming tactics, someone suitably informed and confident enough to stand up and red pill the entire nation on the dangers of wokeism. Unfortunately, politicians being what they are, the array of possible candidates is remarkably drab and threadbare.

Brandy Cluster

29th December 2019 at 11:48 pm

Absolutely brilliant comments and 100% correct. Tony Abbott had to go because of the existential threat he posed to the Woke Left. The only alternative today is Peter Dutton who has the chops and doesn’t care what people think about him. Agree wholeheartedly about Morrison, but he would see himself steering a course to the ‘sensible centre’. But it’s only ‘sensible’ in the sense (for him) that it encapsulates those dreadful institutions you mention while, at the same time, losing skin in the religious freedom fight because he’s, well, a happy clapper.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

29th December 2019 at 5:35 pm

Has Australia stopped killing aboriginals yet?

steve moxon

29th December 2019 at 6:09 pm

Has Australia started stoning ‘identity politics’ totalitarian ‘PC’-fascists who hate the masses, and even make dumb claims of continuing oppression of aboriginals rather than the reality that they’re lauded? No? What, not even anthropogenic climate change myth pedlars? Not as yet. Give it a little time though.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

31st December 2019 at 10:09 pm

So you are in favour of killing abos, then? Interesting.

Also, what about the genocide committed against the indigenous people of Tasmania by mostly Scottish settlers. Why no contrition about that?

Noggin The nog

29th December 2019 at 8:58 pm

A great and encouraging article about a great country. Hopefully more such change will be seen in 2020. Please ignore comments by ZENOBIA PALMYRA – it is a SWJ troll.

Brandy Cluster

29th December 2019 at 9:06 pm

We in Australia have our own vicious SJW trolls, in their thousands. Mostly graduates from third rate, mostly useless degrees they are fuelled by hatred and resentment that they’re not having the success and economic benefits they were promised when they signed up to their courses. Having been filled up with cultural marxism in the universities they even think that equips them for the modern world when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The Left is on the run politically the world over – precisely because its acolytes are so toxic and deluded.

Wait and see what happens when Ruth Bader Ginsberg dies and Trump has to find a replacement on the US Supreme Court; that will explain to you WHY the Dems are so desperately trying to impeach Trump just now – before she dies. The stakes against the Left couldn’t be higher and the USA is at the pointy end with Australia in its wake but, nevertheless, on guard against tyranny.

H McLean

29th December 2019 at 11:13 pm

ZENOBIA PALMYRA has never offered a comment in good faith. So yes, don’t respond to it at all, because it has nothing to say.

bf bf

29th December 2019 at 5:12 pm

“Morrison’s victory failed, not unexpectedly, to settle the burning totemic issue of his times, climate change, or as some would have us call it, the climate emergency.”

Unfortunately the noisy woking class are totally ignorant of the REAL climate emergency that we will all face over the coming years. The grand solar minimum that we are now entering and has already (unreported by the MSM ??) started reducing crop yields, leading to shortages and increased prices. For instance Tesco is already at the point of raising prices on commodities, which are vertical in the supply chain, they own the farms that supply them. The same can be observed in Walmart. The farms that Walmart owns that are supplying Walmart Stores are also having difficulties growing crops, hence the price increases. Back in July TESCO raised prices on 1000 food items, apples in Europe down 20% yield from last year, pears 14%. Nicaragua bean prices up 20% with lentils increasing by 152%, more than doubling in price.

Every prediction of the doom monger climate alarmists have failed to materialize. A FACT ignored by those who’s “research” grants require them to do so. 0.04% of the atmosphere {most of which is naturally occurring} doesn’t have that much of a commanding effect on the climate unlike that big shinny thing in the sky.

steve moxon

29th December 2019 at 5:58 pm

Yes, it’s both astonishing and now par for the course that media are refusing to report on the overwhelming main factor in climate change now, the grand solar minimum. This is going to markedly reduce global temperature over several decades, with just the effect you point to.
How media and the climate change lobby try to escape the giant egg on their faces they are bound to get sooner or later will be a case study for centuries to come in Left groupthink to try to salve cognitive dissonance.

Simon Johnson

30th December 2019 at 6:14 am

The Grand Solar Minimum will have less than 0.8% influence on average global temperatures. It is also part of an 11 year cycle and its effects are temporary. I suggest you read the actual science on this topic rather than conspiracy websites.

steve moxon

30th December 2019 at 10:04 am

Simon here does not know what is the grand solar minimum.
It is NOT the 11-year cycle. It is the co-occurrence of several very different periodicities; hence the term ‘grand’.
Read up before making ill-informed comments.

Jules Hardiman

29th December 2019 at 4:54 pm

I remember reading that, because of the fear of climate change, Australia had ceased to control burn the undergrowth in the bush. This results in more and fiercer fires.

steve moxon

29th December 2019 at 6:03 pm

Yes, this is the story of the green blob: ironically counter-productive measures — especially to their very own goals: ‘carbon’ taxes serve to export carbon combustion to the places where it is done the least efficiently, thereby increasing overall carbon combustion product (CO2). You’d think you couldn’t make it up, but they just did, and always do, and always will do. Their come-uppance is not long nigh.

steve moxon

29th December 2019 at 3:40 pm

With the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis failing to give rise to any sort of predictive model, its having no scientific basis, being no fit at all with historical data (which show that changing CO2 levels always FOLLOW — and by a considerable time lag — temperature changes, revealing that CO2 cannot possibly be the driver) and several heliogenic models now well modelled and accruing mounting evidence … and with the grand solar minimum now upon us causing temperatures to decline over the next several decades ….. then the whole green blob could blow up in the faces of the ‘PC’-fascists perhaps even before feminism does! How about that? We live in interesting, nay hilarious times.
The noses of the Left are going to be rubbed in their own excrement so long and hard they will look less like cokeheads than acid attack victims.

Simon Johnson

30th December 2019 at 6:17 am

Would you care to provide a source for all of your comically baseless nonsense on Co2 emissions. It’s hard to find a post with as many outright falsehoods as yours. That’s some feat under a spiked article.

steve moxon

30th December 2019 at 10:06 am

Idiotic comment by Simon here.
He needs to actually read papers — there are plenty of them.
Kneejerk groupthink green-fascist insult will get him precisely nowhere, and merely spur growing opposition.

Jerry Owen

30th December 2019 at 10:16 am

There are other cycles of the sun other than the eleven year cycle, there is a four hundred year cycle we now know, these cycles overlap resulting in exceptionally hot periods or cold periods. Piers Corbyn one of the most successful at predicting weather cycles has plenty to say on the matter.
If the activity of the sun revolves around eleven year cycles as you state then how do you explain the ‘little ice age’ and the ‘medieval warm period’ ?

Robert Johnson

30th December 2019 at 6:05 pm

Steve..”changing CO2 levels always FOLLOW — and by a considerable time lag — temperature changes”
So after all these years, was that analysis never effectively challenged or debunked?

steve moxon

30th December 2019 at 7:35 pm

Yes, it’s astonishing that the CO2 hypothesis still persists despite the voluminous data all showing clearly that temperature drives CO2, not vice-versa. This is why predictions of doom always turn out to be false: key dates when this or that supposedly would come to pass are passed with nothing of the kind in evidence. That’s how a religious cult behaves. The world didn’t end on the predicted date, so the end of the world is deemed to be at some new future date, and when that date is passed …. The climate clots have gone way past the point of no return in terms of their cognitive dissonance, and can only stonewall and/or go apoplectic at any and every challenge.

Ariana Leah

29th December 2019 at 2:19 pm

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ZENOBIA PALMYRA

31st December 2019 at 10:09 pm

Yes Ariana, we hear you, but ‘a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’.

Philip Humphrey

29th December 2019 at 7:52 am

In my experience trying to debate with the “woke” and leftists is a bit like arguing with a religious cult. They won’t accept any facts or observations except from their own sources. And they have an almost religious belief that white westerners are responsible for almost everything bad and must be punished for their sins. Climate change is a case in point. As you point out in the article Australia has dropped its emissions, as has Britain, Europe and much of the west. And yet overall CO 2 emissions are rising, and it’s quite clear that the real risk comes from the developing world. But do we see the “woke” protesting the Indian, Chinese or Indonesian governments? If you accept that there is a risk of climate change associated with CO 2 emissions, then the planet doesn’t care where the emissions come from and doesn’t have any idea of ” social justice”.

steve moxon

29th December 2019 at 3:47 pm

With the whole CO2 hypothesis entirely backwards (CO2 is the PRODUCT of temperature increase, not its cause), then the rest of the world (all of the BRIC countries and Africa, never mind just China) are going to see — rightly — the pressure placed upon them by the the global green blob for what it is: Western contemporary imperialist fascism. This is a very big danger for the world.

Chris Hanley

30th December 2019 at 8:24 pm

CO2 is both, a product and a cause.

steve moxon

30th December 2019 at 9:43 pm

No, it’s just a product, Chris. CO2 in such minuscule atmospheric concentrations has no significant ‘greenhouse’ impact, and even the far more significant contributor in this regard of water vapour also is not a significant driver of climate change. The driver, rather drivers, are several mechanisms concerning the solar magnetic field; including the impact of cosmic rays on white cloud formation (this reflecting back sunlight).

Chris Hanley

31st December 2019 at 12:48 am

True, water vapour is more abundant in the atmosphere and the infrared absorption and scattering spectra of water vapour and CO2 do overlap, just the same CO2 is significant as this diagram shows:
http://www.climate4you.com/images/RadiationTransmittedByTheAtmosphere.gif
It is accepted by both ‘sides’ that – all else being equal – a doubling of the CO2 atmospheric concentration would result in a ~1C increase in the global average temperature.
What that would mean in the real world is unknown because there is no way of differentiating the effect of increasing CO2 from natural variation.

steve moxon

31st December 2019 at 10:03 am

No, it’s not accepted Chris. All of the historic data — right back even through geological times — shows that CO2 levels are determined by the impact of temperature on oceans (oceans contain almost al the CO2 on the planet). It is NOT the case that C02 drives temperature. The data here is as clear as data ever gets.

Chris Hanley

31st December 2019 at 7:52 pm

Steve, I’m pretty sure we both can agree that ‘solutions’ to what is at worst the non-problem or even net benefit of increased atmospheric CO2 is an enormous waste of wealth, both directly and through the associated opportunity costs.

steve moxon

31st December 2019 at 9:24 pm

We most certainly can, Chris.

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