OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has said there is a lack of appreciation in public debate for Australia’s Western heritage and Christian principles in an address on Thursday night to the 70th anniversary of the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in Melbourne.
Mr Abbott thanked the IPA for their work “in defence of Western civilisation” in his address to the gathered guests of the sold-out gala dinner, including Rupert Murdoch and Coalition MPs Greg Hunt, George Brandis, Bronwyn Bishop and Cory Bernardi. Also in attendance were Sydney Catholic Archbishop George Pell, Gina Rinehart and News Limited boss Kim Williams.
Mr Abbott said there was a new version of the “great Australian silence” in public debate.
“In contemporary Australia [we have] rightly left behind the old cult of forgetfulness about our indigenous heritage. Alas, there is a new version of the great Australian silence — this time about the Western cannon, the literature, the poetry, the music, the history and above all the faith without which our culture and our civilisation is unimaginable.”
Mr Abbott used the speech to restate a number of his party’s policies including the repeal of the carbon tax and abolishing the Department of Climate Change and the Clean Energy Fund. Mr Abbott also indicated his government would repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits offensive behaviour based on racial hatred.
In his introduction to the gala dinner’s guest of honour, Rupert Murdoch, Mr Abbott said Mr Murdoch “is probably the Australian who has most shaped the world through the 45 million newspapers that News Corp sells each week and the one billion subscribers to News-linked programming.”
“His publications have borne his ideals but never his fingerprints. They have been sceptical, stoical, curious, adventurous, opinionated but broadminded. He’s influenced them but he’s never dictated to them.”
Mr Murdoch praised the virtues of a free market in his address, saying a free market was a fair market.
Mr Murdoch claimed the current public debate was focused on class warfare which has “proved so toxic and so damaging for older nations” and there needed to be a return to a discussion of the morality of free markets.
“We need to defend the market on precisely the grounds that its critics attack it: on justice and fairness. Yes, the morality of free markets,” Mr Murdoch said.
“The market succeeds because it gives people incentives to put their own wants and needs aside to address the wants and needs of others. To succeed, you have to produce something that other people are willing to pay for.”
However, he also acknowledged many people may not actively embrace free markets as the solution to achieving a fair and equitable society.
“Our challenge is to bring that message to such people – whether they are on the shop floor or behind a desk – in a way that lets them understand why they stand to benefit more from a society that rewards their work and initiative than one that pretends to spread the wealth around.”
For the full text of Tony Abbott’s address see: Address to Institute of Public Affairs
For the full text of Rupert Murdoch’s address see: Free market is a fair market