The current Australian Liberal Party’s manifesto states that they believe in ‘the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples’ and as such ‘work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives’.
It also promises a government that ‘nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape’.
Why then has Scott Morrison led a government that spent $144 billion in the 2019-20 period before Covid hit? Why did Morrison then continue the recent trend of conservative governments across the Anglosphere abandoning a fiscally conservative free market model?
Classic liberal free market policies followed at different times by Margaret Thatcher in the UK, Ronald Reagan in America, and Peter Costello in Australia cured rampant inflation and delivered sustainable growth. When these politicians were in power, the Anglosphere democracies were the most economically successful and freest societies on the planet.
Times have clearly changed.
The Morrison government blindly followed the third way, big government social interventionist model that eroded British and American democracy under Tony Blair and Bill Clinton before it infected Australian politics after Costello left office in 2007. This so-called neo-Keynesian (but in practice, utopian socialist agenda) was from the outset entranced with bureaucrats micro-managing welfare, health, education, and diversity who sought primarily to replace political prudence with abstract absurdity.
The Liberal Party’s operation within this social justice Big State framework has created our current mess. The question is: why did an increasingly Woke bureaucracy get so bad and so big under successive Liberal governments?
The answer lies in the recent perverse turn by supposedly conservative politicians to social justice policies. We believe the remedy is simple: less bureaucracy; more liberty. In 2022, cutting bureaucracy means cutting Wokeness.
In order to understand how past Liberal governments have consistently failed to deliver on their promises of shrinking the size and scope of the bureaucracy, public choice economists like William Niskanen demonstrated that bureaucracies always aim to increase their budgets. Power, prestige, generous salaries, the nice corner office, attractive workplace amenities, ample vacation time, and now working from home – the things that most people want in their careers are all enabled by large, growing budgets.
This Budget Maximizing Model, Niskanen found, applies to all bureaucracies and most tellingly those of public broadcasting, public health, and public education: all prominent stakeholders in our current Australian liberal democracy.
It makes sense for the left to favour bureaucracy-driven budgetary expansionism. But why haven’t Liberal governments stopped or reversed this growth?
Over the past twenty years, the bureaucratic class has moved even further to the left and taken on a disturbingly totalitarian face – one at odds with the Liberal Party’s apparently core values of cutting red tape, advancing individual liberty, and freedom of thought.
Why have they abandoned core values and buckled before an increasingly Woke bureaucratic class?
The answer perhaps found in political incentives tied to the nature of bureaucracy itself. Bureaucrats are citizens and therefore they vote. In and of itself, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem as most Australians are not bureaucrats. However, bureaucrats have themselves, over time, become progressive advocates rather than neutral advisers to whatever government is in power. This advocacy on behalf of themselves and their ideological rectitude is particularly evident in two areas – public broadcasting and public education. These particular bureaucracies happen to be very influential on Australian political discourse.
Through the ABC, public schools, and public universities, non-bureaucrat Australians are persuaded to vote in accordance with the interests of bureaucrats. These interests have taken on an increasingly hardcore Woke-left line that aims to eliminate any open discussion on issues such as Climate Change and gender quotas, let alone cutting taxes or red tape. Therefore, even if bureaucrats are a small minority, they punch above their weight in electoral terms through their cultural influence leading us down a dangerous path towards full-blown ‘cancel culture’.
So, has the current Liberal Party sold out to a Woke bureaucrazy agenda and could the agenda ever be reversed?
Paradoxically, the issue sits within the nature of bureaucratic management itself: at least a modicum of bureaucratic cooperation is required by any ruling party. As we saw during the Trump Administration, and more recently in the Johnson government’s attempt to leave the European Union, the unelected bureaucrat class can undermine the political plans and programs of an elected government. This phenomenon is termed somewhat ineptly as the ‘deep state’.
These facts explain why Coalition governments have never defunded or privatised the ABC. They are simply too scared since they know if they even attempt it, there will be publicly-funded opposition to their re-election.
‘Investigative journalists’ will target their policies and programs and lifestyles for salacious often hyperbolic coverage. Bureaucrats leaking government failings will receive a state-subsidised sympathetic ear in the mainstream media. It is far easier for the Coalition to keep the public money – or hush money in this case – flowing.
The only solution to this dilemma is for the Liberals to stop being hypocritical, look back to the success of the classic Liberal policies and Victorian self-help values of Reagan, Thatcher, and Costello and stand up for liberty, free speech, and the free market.
Otherwise, someone else will have to do the job for them. If not the woke bureaucrats will continue to rule.
Article co-authored by Lana Starkey PhD candidate in seventeenth-century literature at the University of Queensland and a freelance writer and Dr. Andrew Russell.
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