Creating a mainstream non-Labor political force in Australia
In 1944-45, Robert Menzies hosted three conventions to unite fourteen existing political parties and four non-party associations in the Liberal Party of Australia..
Menzies deemed the main non-Labor party at the time (the United Australia Party) to be unfit for purpose. He wanted a party that could lead the nation in the post-war period, but he judged that the UAP was not suitable for the task. At certain points in their history, political parties stagnate and die. That time had come for the UAP in 1944.
In 2022, it’s clear that the Liberal Party has come to the end of its life. Like the UAP before it, it is no longer capable of uniting the nation and leading it through challenging times. It is not simply a question of policy or personnel; the culture of the Liberal Party makes it unable to represent the nation.
Leadership in the 21st century world of distributed networks and online participation will have a different face from that which inspired the generation of Australians who fought World War 2. The generation born in 1944 is now passing, and Menzies’ party is passing with them. The Teal triumph in Kooyong – Menzies’ own seat for so long – marks this end of an era.
The question now is how to bring together ‘fourteen parties and four non-party associations’ to create a new political force. The Labor Party and its Green and Teal partners constitute a progressive ascendancy in Australian politics that is formidable. It is organisationally strong and is embedded in the public and corporate institutions of the country. Defeating it will require more than wishful thinking. It will require a new non-Labor political force.
The Menzies Project
We invite participation in Menzies 2.0.
Communication, in Menzies’ time, was by postage stamp and overnight rail journeys in sleeper compartments. In the internet age, bringing people together and hosting conventions is easier and cheaper. The Menzies Project today can be driven from below, by the many. It doesn’t require a former Prime Minister to host our conventions, but it does require the strategic vision and the political sensibilities of a Menzies. Those qualities and insights can be shared and learned in an organised movement. There are many of us, around Australia, who know what has to be done. And we know we have to begin.
Membership of The Menzies Project is open to:
Members of the Liberal and National Parties;
Members of minor parties;
Citizens who are not members of any political organisation.
Members come together online in their federal electorates (there are 150 of these) for open, strategic discussion about how to turn the political tide in the country. Members must indicate their support for our Charter, and they must declare their membership of any political party.
In Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, state elections in the coming 12 months provide an opportunity for members to trial a new politics, in the spirit of Menzies. This is how it would work:
In electorates which are traditionally ‘safe’ Labor or held by a Teal or Green or Other, members of The Menzies Project may consider options for turning the tide in their electorate. This might include supporting a conservative Independent or good minor party candidate to win the seat. After all, the Teals are able to mobilise big numbers to do this successfully in traditionally ‘safe’ Liberal seats – why can’t conservative Independents with broad community support win traditionally ‘safe’ Labor seats?
Dai Le in the New South Wales seat of Fowler shows how this can be done. In Fowler, a traditionally ‘safe’ Labor seat, Dai Le rallied local people to successfully win the seat from Kristina Kenneally. Members of The Menzies Project can organise to repeat the process in similar seats in coming state elections.
The Left used to say, during the Vietnam War, “One, two, three, many Vietnams”. We say “One, two, three, many Dai Les”.
Why should Labor hold seats in Dandenong, Springvale or St Albans, Point Cook or Craigieburn in Victoria? Why should it hold any seats at all in socially conservative Western and South West Sydney?
Labor only holds these seats because the Liberal Party is culturally unfit to win them. That is the sole reason Labor is still the incumbent in these areas. And until now, we’ve had no organisational tools with which to support the election of conservative Independents to win these seats. But now we do.
Join The Menzies Project
We invite your membership and participation. There is no cost. We ask that you declare any party membership you might have. A National Steering Committee is being convened to lead this process, and you may wish to express an interest in joining this group. You may also wish to express an interest in acting as a Convenor in your federal electorate.
Make sure to tell us about yourself and your political interests, and how you would like to be involved.
The Menzies Project – Membership
0425 722 890