Not long after the July 2016 federal election the Coalition had run what, on any account, was a lacklustre campaign.
The Coalition did not fight Labor on the unions, or on the boats, or on the need for significant government spending cuts. Instead, the Liberal Party made Mr. Turnbull himself the focus of much of the campaign, and mouthed vapid slogans about ‘innovation’ at pretty near every opportunity. That is where the right side of politics chose to fight in the first post-Tony Abbott coup election. The results were far from pretty. Despite the loss of some million or so former supporters the Coalition did eventually scrape home with a one seat majority in the House, but with even more independents in the Senate. It was far from clear that the supposed or nominal cause for this July 2016 double dissolution election, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (‘ABCC’) Bill, would end up being passed by the Senate. At the time of writing it is still unclear. So the publisher picked up the phone and asked me what I thought of the idea of editing a book that would bring together some of this country’s leading right-of-centre writers who would then, in the light of the current political state of affairs in Australia, give the reader their takes on the theme – ‘Where to from Here? My job was to find the writers, give them their instructions, and put together the end result. The end result is this new book Making Australia Right.
The first thing was to find the top notch authors. Then I had to agree a general topic with each, be it defence, health, the economy, the media and all the others that make up the themes of the thirteen chapters of this book. After that, and in keeping with the general philosophical approach of many of us on the right, I gave each author a very laissez-faire and minimal set of instructions. Take this assigned chapter topic of yours, together with the book’s overall theme of ‘Where to from here for the right side of politics’, and run with it as you see fit. There was no one-size-fits-all mandated approach, no cut-and-paste imposed uniformity. Some authors ended-up being free-ranging, others more narrowly focused. Some looked at how we got to where we are; others were more concerned with where we need to go; some split the difference. What you will find is a variety of treatments on some of the most important issues facing this country. True, the overall tone is not one of bubbling optimism. How could it be with the current state of the Liberal Party in this country? But it does constitute, with the variety of views and approaches of the authors, a sort of handbook for how the right side of politics might get back on track in this country – at least for those of us who do not think that acting as the pale imitation of Labor is the way to go.
In conclusion what you have here are top people in their fields giving you something you will not find on the ABC, namely an outlook and an analysis that is something other than the blog-standard left-wing perspective that dominates so much of the airwaves, the newspaper columns, what you find on social media – and these days, alas, even what some Liberal MPs will voice inside the party room. What you will find here is an honest and open way forward for the right side of politics.
Written by James Allan, QUT Professor and Editor of ‘Making Australia Right’.