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CPAC 2023: the Christian Nationalists taking over the Coalition

It is hard to gauge the importance of the Trumpist Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) event that took place in Sydney this weekend. There were more high-profile figures speaking than previously, and several currently serving politicians alongside white supremacists and antisemites.

CPAC’s budget did not allow the recreation of the Nazi “odal” rune stage shape that emerged in the 2021 American version. The organisers did maintain the spirit of trolling the left into futile outrage against deniable provocations: the weekend’s press passes were slapped with the words “fake news” in large print.

Despite claims that it was a sold-out event, there seemed to be many empty seats. It was streamed live on Alan Jones’s low-rating “network” ADH TV and the production values seemed intent on making the show look a glitzy echo of the American parent on a TV screen. The man behind the “network,” conspiracy-peddling Maurice Newman, was on the speaker list with several ADH TV presenters. This suggests the weekend was as much about raising the profile of Australia’s further-right-than-Sky viewing option for the base. It is not alleged that key ADH TV funder Jamie Packer was present over the weekend.

So, while CPAC remains a fringe event in the Australian scene, there were several key political figures there. Orbanist Tony Abbott gave the keynote speech. Warren Mundine is Board Chairman of the Australian CPAC organisation, so the Coalition’s No campaign to the Voice to Parliament was at the core of the weekend’s speeches.

The Liberal Party insurgency was represented by Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Alex Antic, Bev McArthur and Ted O’Brien. Of course, the insurgency’s poster girl Moira Deeming appeared twice. Former Liberal politicians Amanda Stoker, Bronwyn Bishop and Gary Hardgrave also spoke.

The Nationals were represented by current and former leadership: John Anderson, Barnaby Joyce, Bridget McKenzie and Keith Pitt presented. It seems there was no need for the white supremacists to infiltrate the National Party back in 2018; they are now appearing on platforms alongside people posting antisemitic and white supremacist barely-coded material without that coup succeeding.

The threat remains: if these Christian Nationalist, truth-distorting and conspiracy-peddling politicians take the reins of the Coalition fully, a “conservative” vote in Australia becomes a vote for the extreme fringe. Watching what percentage of their base is ready to be further radicalised is key to evaluating our risk.

Moira Deeming’s solo speech on Saturday was redolent with self-pity. She describes herself as an “Independent Liberal” MP and is full of her own martyrdom. She spoke of having been “publicly stoned” for her bad judgement in appearing at a rally where Neo Nazis provided security, over and above the CPAC funding the event had received. Deeming made the typical far right assertion that Nazis are actually socialists to frame distance between herself and fascism. She also appeared mistaken when she asserted that there was no interaction between the Nazis and the anti-trans speakers at the March event.

The weekend’s nadir was a “comedy” routine by the corporate hoax speaker, Rodney Marks. His performance as “Chaim Tsibos” was a diatribe of ghastly anti-First Nations racism in a Jewish caricature. He began with an acknowledgment of “the traditional rent-seekers past, present and emerging” before rejigging his tribute to the “Traditional owners: violent black men” with particular notice for “woman-basher Bennelong.”

Apparently not performing as a failing comedian was former Labor MP Gary Johns, who took recent scandals about blood testing people to determine their degree of Aboriginality and escalated his provocation. He distanced himself from the prejudice displayed in his words by crediting them to Price’s father, Dave Price. “If you want a voice, learn English. That’s your voice.” The only answer, he asserted, is for Aboriginal people to stop sitting “there outside the economy, playing out the role of an Aboriginal person” because “being Aboriginal is not enough.”

American speaker Elijah Schaffer was perhaps the ugliest figure on the list – to the point that CPAC scrubbed his name from the menu of speakers but not his actual speech which went ahead. He focused on fighting white guilt” and opposing immigration’s harm to a (white) Australia. Amongst other (repeat) speakers was Trump’s scandalous former acting Attorney-General Matt Whitaker, who continued spreading Trump’s lies about the 2020 election in Sydney.

Any serving politician who shared a podium with these men ought to be made to answer for their appalling judgement in choosing to appear at CPAC, home to Trumpist troll politics.

The IPA and Menzies Research Centre “think” tanks were enthusiastic participants. Christian Nationalist figures were well represented in the event’s presenters. Rachel Wong of the Christian right Women’s Forum Australia and Lyle Shelton were both speakers. The Australian Christian Lobby CEO Michelle Pearse railed against the banning of human rights-abusing gay “conversion therapy.” Christian nationalist “thought leader” Evelyn Rae was dropped from the speaker list at the last minute.

The weekend continued the usual apocalyptic tone from the Right. The war of values is existential. On the dark side is the Voice to Parliament and climate action. The existence of trans people was constantly demonised, with them depicted wrongly as a threat to women and children. Alan Jones redeployed the ridiculous kitty litter hoax from the American anti LGBTQIA+ propaganda networks. Barnaby Joyce warned against the dangers of politicians with the “wrong conviction,” alluded to supporting abortion as one of the loathed progressive values that we must escape. He bemoaned that being a politician of conviction, by his standards, can look like derision, ridicule, hate, jail and death. The founders of the fundraising platform of white supremacists, Give Send Go, depicted abortion and trans health care as crimes they would not support.

The motto of CPAC Australia 2023 was “We are one,” an echo of the QAnon mantra “Where we go one, we go all.” That apocalyptic conspiracy has pervaded the Christian Nationalist movement, and many disparate factions united at CPAC to fight for their paranoid reactionary politics tied to that banner.

Lyle Shelton quoted Maurice Newman approvingly when he stated, “Laugh it off if you like, but there are parallels between Germany 1933 and Australia 2023.” As one of the few observers who could stand to watch the entire weekend’s events observed: “I actually couldn’t agree more with this, those parallels were on stage at CPACAustralia this weekend.”

This was first published in Pearls and Irritations as The Insurgency

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  1. Terence Mills

    The more I hear of CPAC the more I think of the Life of Brian and the contest of ideas between The Judean People’s Front, the People’s Front Of Judea, the Judean People’s Popular Front.

    CPAC is not meant to be taken seriously ; as with blessed be the cheesemakers, refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

    Are you sure that the whole thing wasn’t just a comedy stunt, with Wazza Mundine leading them they are doomed.

    I too noticed the number of empty seats : couldn’t they find seat warmers to fill in the gaps as they do at the Logies ?

  2. leefe

    Write them off at your peril. They won’t give up and remember, they have Mudrake’s backing and Gina’s $$$

  3. Mark Shields

    I cannot believe that fellow intellectuals have NOT been so vocal regarding Religious Rights and Privileges for so many years in this country! When Pentecostals and Scientologists can claim “Right To Believe” and gain tax concessions, why aren’t the rest of us; educated, intelligent, sentient and reasonable human beings also claiming that Science; the most developed, invested and believed method of Human understanding, is probably our best system for human and planetary survival?

    How has Science become so easily dismissed? How has ancient mythology managed to dupe our human civilisations for so long?

    I’ll tell you how: Greed, complacency and apathy! I’ll even go one step further and say that; it serves us all right to be facing environmental/societal degradation when the majority of our population are so wilfully ignorant because their neighbours (friends/family/colleagues) still believe in that primeval principle that only the strongest will survive! (This is how governments and corporations succeed.)

    When the Meek and Humble finally get to have their say without bias/propaganda/bribes, we will realise that our society is not a competition for wealth (and religious privilege); but is a global community of Sympathy!

    Let’s expose Religion as the Cult that it is!

  4. Phil Pryor

    Political perverts of the right wing ratbag rubbish bin STINK, for they are uncivilised, savage, heathen, pustular with superstition, riddled with imbecility, filth deep and nasty, under educated, untrustworthy, egofixated anuses…and ruinous to us all left here hoping…and in the USA, the Unlimited Slimy Anuses, horrible liars and fantasising fools are gathering for a Republican meeting, the T V Turd Challenge where media maggots, superstitious fools, malicious misfits, corrupt liars, ambitious asses, sty denizens, and the absent bowelful Trump are courting office from deludeds, deviates, degradeds, deplorables, denialists, depraved and detritus. As a symbol to the world, the USA and its subnormal politics remains a warning, a lesson, an example, of utter degradation. Merde the Dog , thanks an effing lot.

  5. Andrew Smith

    Good overview, ‘wheels within wheels’ though not sure there is much left of the LNP to takeover and/or inform, it’s become a hollowed out delivery system for imported nativist authoritarian agitprop, masquerading as (faux) environmental and free market solutions (to real or imagined issues).

    Also fits in with transnational architecture of same franchises &/or talking points, in which many Oz LNP, Murdoch RW media cartel, Tanton nativism & IPA (Koch/Atlas & inc. Christian networks via CNP in US) grifters; surely hubris is going to create blowback for the same grifters, why?

    Not just running out of above median age electoral powder, who are rusted onto legacy media and the ‘architecture of influence’ becoming transparent, but those very whiffy offshore links e.g. Budapest. It’s the fulcrum or meeting place for a corrupt nativist Anglosphere bridgehead in Europe to try split the EU, demand Ukraine concede so that Putin’s Russia can then ‘peace’ all over them and return to ‘business as usual’.

    Other linked entities include CPAC (in fact ACU American Conservative Union), MCC with recent ‘Peace Forum’ (over populated by US/UK Koch grifters) and of course the Danube Institute*, also linked to Koch, via Abbott’s favourite, the Heritage Foundation (* Danube was called out 3 April ’22 by US conservative Anne Applebaum after Putin’s invasion; Abbott’s advisor did a reverse ferret, very quickly).

    Very tricky on the latter Heritage, which shares talking points in its media arm ‘The Daily Signal,’ with FoxNews, RT, Zero Hedge etc.; in addition to the natural affinity for authoritarian leaders, Christianity, corruption and nativism, it’s signaled strong antipathy towards the EU (Brexit), and NATO (Trump & still..), pre Russian invasion, and still to this day…. of late suggesting Ukraine should not be supported due to the economic cost to US taxpayers….

    ‘US Aid to Ukraine Amounts to $900 Per American Household, Economist Says’

    US Aid to Ukraine Amounts to $900 Per American Household, Economist Says

    Don’t think the same messaging, from local grifters & franchises would go down well in Oz buddying up to Putin et al?

  6. Max Gross

    Christo-Fascism, that’s all it is.

  7. Johnyperth

    Are we going to have a new political party??
    Just another political party from America.
    I did religious instructions in primer school back in Melbourne and we told to respect each other.
    So, why is this new religious group doing the opposite!!??
    So much for religion!!!
    Great to be an atheist these days!!!

  8. Steve Davis

    Lyle Shelton’s quote in the final paragraph is a beauty. The perfect definition of an “own goal” !

  9. Harry Lime

    Does this mean that Boofhead Dutton is merely the hollow Trojan Horse until the takeover is complete?Turns out he might have a purpose after all.

  10. RomeoCharlie

    The stuff these idiots say is terrible, worse is the fact they actually get people to pay to hear the rubbish. They give freedom of speech a bad name. Thank you to those who sat through the sewerage to alert us to these idiots.

  11. Cool Pete

    I am sure that Simon Wiesenthal would be shaking his head if he heard that claptrap from Maurice No Brains! The similarity between Germany in 1933 and Australia ceased when the reign of the Liberals came to an end! Let’s not forget that Maurice No Man was Orbanist Tone the Botty’s business adviser and a preposterous one at that!
    CPAC needs to view trans affirming medicine this way, “If it doesn’t concern you, keep your nose out of it!”
    If Australia wants to take a lesson from Germany in 1933 it’s that most Germans say, “Nie Wieder!” (Never Again) at the prospect of a Nazi Government and we need to do the same regarding a conservative government.

  12. Terence Mills


    Take comfort from the fact that many seats were empty at CPAC and you can bet your boots that the organisers would have been encouraging their supporters to bring along relatives, Uncles and Aunts, anybody just to make up the numbers. But even so they couldn’t fill the seats.

  13. Lucy Hamilton

    Correct, Mr Mills. I guess it’s harder to do that when the seats are around $600 than it was for much cheaper seats at the Caroline Springs (western Melbourne) event at the end of June (see my insurgency piece if you missed that).

    They are pretty careless about coalition building, this lot. Don’t write off the risk because any one event looks fringe. The anti woke alliance is a real threat.

  14. Clakka

    Again, thanks Lucy, and particularly for naming names.

    Such a conga-line of hateful turds have no ideas and no principles and no solutions for basic human issues such as hunger, land theft, ecological destruction and poverty. Alternatively, they see an opportunity to feed off those issues.

    Their objective of dragooning the vulnerable and unthinking is via a simplistic blame ideology manufactured by lies, superstitions, misdirections, historical revisionism, olde worlde fire & brimstone religious capture, character assassination of opponents and ‘others’, and perverse, false and divisive narratives on the sexual rainbow. Its so-called Nationalist Christian narrative excludes the many going under the banner of Christian (and other religions) who in modernity seek to promote ecumenicalism, and do good for civil society as a whole.

    It’s not politics, it’s purely self-serving. The cabal of politicians attending, short on ideas are learning a language of persuasion to unleash upon their unfortunates in any bid to gain votes. These hateful turds of CPAC have inured their emotions and forsaken grace and deep thinking, seeking to obscure their lifetimes of failure and rejections behind cringing absolutism and brutishness. Rather than learn and evolve, they opt for justification and concealing their morbid fears and refusals like shallow celebrities behind grease paint and the limelight, in a pathetic bid for attention seeking monetary gain.

    Rather than elevate inclusiveness and wellbeing, they opt for divisiveness and bringing others down to usury and enslavement – pathetic and dangerous.

  15. old bloke

    “woman-basher Bennelong”
    Apparently Barangaroo, his wife gave as good as she got from him. ‘husband basher Barangaroo?’

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