Conservatism from Deakin to Howard

George Brandis’s Deakin lecture is now online, courtesy The Australian.

One of his points was that John Howard was the first Liberal leader to expressly incorporate conservatism into the party ideology, describing the Liberal Party as the heir to both the conservative and liberal traditions in Australia, and himself as a social conservative and economic liberal.

So far as I can recall that it a correct observation about party rhetoric. What I am less sure of is that Howard – despite his own occasional claim to the contrary – was actually an unusually conservative Liberal prime minister.

Important elements of Liberal ideology from Deakin to Menzies owe more to conservative than liberal thinking, even if neither Deakin nor Menzies ever labelled them as such.

The stand-out example of this is the White Australia Policy. Take this passage from Afred Deakin on the WAP (quoted in Paul Kelly’s The End of Certainty): Continue reading “Conservatism from Deakin to Howard”