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CPAC Australia and Murdoch

One of the most unsavoury events on the Trumpist-right is CPAC. This is an organisation that stages Conservative Political Action Conferences in America, as well as internationally. CPAC Australia has been operating since 2019 and the 2022 event is due to take place in Sydney this October.

CPAC is the heart of the tribal “war on woke” of the populist right. It’s where the Fox radicalisers combine with other culture warriors to inflame the base into utter implacable loathing of the centre. For this worldview, the centre is indistinguishable from the “socialist” left, entwined with the reviled Black Lives Matter, the fantasy of Antifa, and elite traitors to the American cause.

The previously annual event was created by the American Conservative Union and Young Americans for Freedom. The first conference took place in 1974, where Ronald Reagan gave the keynote speech during his presidential campaign. Trump’s speech at CPAC 2011 is credited with birthing his political career.

In 2017, Richard Spencer was ejected from the conference for his “repugnant” views. Under Matt Schlapp’s chairmanship, however, it has veered ever further into the ugly right currently unmaking America.

Nick Fuentes, leader of the Proud Boys (labeled a terrorist group in Canada) hosted the even more extreme America First Political Action Conference concurrently in Orlando in February, 2022. Trump-Republicans such as Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Gosar were able to appear at both the neo-Nazi AFPAC and the marginally less unhinged CPAC.

A lurch even further into authoritarian territory was marked in May, 2022 when CPAC was hosted in Budapest. There Orban illustrated to the wildly-supportive American audience the glories of illiberal democracy. According to the worldview touted, the progressive or liberal world is the existential enemy and must be destroyed by seizing all the structures of power.

News Corp was instrumental in uniting the American MAGA right with Orban’s authoritarian ethnonationalism. He has a fraught relationship with the extremist right around the CPAC world: in 2021, Fox News was targeted at CPAC for insufficient support for Trump’s seditionist lies. It was Fox, however, that brought Orban into the mainstream as a Trumpist-right hero.

Tucker Carlson is asserted in a New York Times investigation to work directly with the Murdoch father and son rather than his nominal bosses at Fox News. That same investigation alleges that Carlson’s show is watched by Australian News Corp editors for guidance on the Murdoch line.

It was Carlson who took his top-rating nightly Fox show to broadcast from Budapest for a week in 2021, with an Orban interview as a highlight. (Rod Dreher is believed to have been the connection. This ultra-conservative American intellectual has a number of Budapest-based and visiting peers from Britain and Australia.) Orban’s rabid defence of ethnic purity in Budapest and Christian western civilisation (depicted as dying) is a comfortable fit with Carlson’s messaging. The latter constantly reiterates the Great Replacement idea that (Jewish) elites are replacing white Christians with non-white and non-Christian immigrants in order to destroy western nations.

Fox News names are high profile attendees at American CPAC events, alongside the dolts of congress and the circus around Trump. Marjorie Taylor-Greene appeared in a grotesque tableaux at the August Dallas event mimicking maternal consolation of a performer weeping in a model jail cell over his Jan 6 insurrection “martyrdom.” Orban spoke at this CPAC too, a week after he asserted that Europeans “do not want to become peoples of mixed race.” CPACs are very much Trump’s Republican Party at play. Players test culture war ideas, and attacks on schools are a current hit; the base was responding well to the nonsense accusation that teachers are “sexualising” children.

The Australian version was founded by self-declared libertarian and president of LibertyWorks thinktank, Andrew Cooper. It is currently chaired by Abbott-conservative, Warren Mundine and features a less colourful cast than its American model. The 2022 line-up features many Murdoch employees, particularly from Sky. Domestic veterans of culture war nonsense and fabricators of climate denial “facts” are also listed.

Unsurprisingly, Matt Canavan and Amanda Stoker are amongst the speakers. The latter may continue her efforts to place the winding back of abortion access on the Australian agenda. Tony Abbott was revealed by Crikey to be the likely keynote speaker. Nigel Farage and a couple of Trump’s worse appointments are amongst the dubious attractions.

Farage has tweeted his determination this week that Britain should listen when “the great” Tony Abbott speaks. Abbott’s declaration that Britain must let the world know that “the way is closed” for migrants suits Farage’s continual fear-mongering about immigrant numbers. This fits the pair well for an Australia CPAC that advertised cheap tickets for students using the term “jugend.”



It is easy to mock the Australian CPAC, a tawdry echo of its toxic American model. What is crucial to note, however, is that the lies and distortions inherent in culture wars are the tool that Dutton hopes to use to turn his 17% approval rating into electoral success. The damage done to the US and UK by culture war wielding “conservatives” is inestimable and should not be underestimated. Above all, they foster bigotry and division, creating chasms in the civic space that cannot be bridged by civil discourse. Without an overlapping reality, democracy must fail.

The Australia Institute recently announced that it has found most Australians see being “woke” as a positive or neutral, despite the constant derision from frothing Sky News hosts. CPACs depict themselves as the suppository of wisdom, rather than flailing failures to cope with change. We can hope that CPACs remain sad fringe events in Australia rather than driving us towards chaos too.

This essay was first published in “Pearls and Irritations“.


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  1. New England Cocky

    Also on Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations.

  2. Sully of Tuross

    Why is it that whenever I see a photo of Nigel Farage esquire, I have a chuckle?

  3. Lucy Hamilton

    Hi New England Cocky.
    You’ll see that noted at the end of the piece.

  4. Andrew J. Smith

    Interesting these transnational relationships, and related to Hungary, there had been an interesting evolution from PM Orban’s government originally not tolerating white nationalists a decade ago, to embracing them (masquerading as ‘conservatives’), while many Australian ‘conservatives’ in the eco-system of the GOP, UK Tories, LNP, NewsCorp, nativist Tanton and libertarian Koch Network think tanks are also enamoured by Hungary.

    Originally some of the Americans were persona non grata in Hungary e.g. Jared Taylor (friend of deceased white nationalist John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton of ZPG fame); both visited and were hosted in Australia too (revolving door and welcome mat?).

    Another US white nationalist Richard Spencer who was also deported from Hungary a decade ago (after arriving overland by train from Vienna), when visiting for the same event that could not be called off, the Orban govt. got them including Taylor, on not carrying passports when out for a drink.

    Then fast forward to the ‘Soros Conspiracy’, ‘great replacement’ then nowadays Fox, CPAC and Tucker Carlson, embracing and being embraced by Hungary, while Orban has good with relations with neither EU nor western leaders, and now deferring to Putin, Trump/CPAC, Erdogan, Xi et al.

    Not sure what this says about Australian ‘conservatives’ visiting Hungarian think tanks, funded by PM Orban’s govt. (like Hungarian bank funding Le Pen after Russia had), which are equivocal on Russia. Many of the same, including UK PM candidate Truss and Abbott’s advisor, are messaging against Macron, implying Le Pen is the favoured leader?

  5. len

    Hungarian PM Orban was incubated in the same covert neo-feudalist program as other WEF Young Leaders such as Trudeau, Macaron and Ardern. Say no more. They are not friends of liberal democracy.

  6. Terence Mills

    I have noted how the Sky News hosts ridicule those who they call woke particularly the loathsome Rowan Dean.

    To be woke is defined as being aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues especially issues of social injustice in society, in particular racism.

    I am proud to be woke.

    Do they know what they are talking about ?

  7. GL

    The Mad Monk is great: Gaseous Rectal Explosive Apocalyptic Turd.

  8. Brad Black

    The article above is a great example of human evolution ‘in real time’. Those, like the mad monk, whose evolution has been ‘delayed’ tend towards wanting to fight anyone who looks sideways at them, because in truth they’re frightened. The rest of us ‘woke’ citizens just want to get on and make sure we keep getting better at managing ourselves and our planet. Perhaps, if they’ve found another habitable, or semi habitable, planet, we might ‘encourage’ those with mouths that hang loosely to migrate?

  9. Andrew J. Smith

    len: WEF is more libertarian, both economically and socially, while Orban was more centrist in the past when he had links to WEF; of late WEF intelligence forums have been critical of him and western conservatives via Project Syndicate article posted:

    ‘The Treason of the Conservatives. By championing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his model of venal “conservative” rule, Western critics of liberalism have clarified where they really stand. When the chips are down, they would be more than willing to sacrifice democracy and sanction industrial-scale theft.’

    Further, while Orban has been happy to dog whistle Soros, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, EU and liberal democracy for the past decade, previously he had accepted support from Soros. The latter included a study tour to the US where others were bemused when Orban and colleague (cannot recall who) declined a social excursion for basketball, dinner and drinks, preferring to stay in their hotel room playing computer games (according to Eva Balogh in Hungarian Spectrum)…… classic Magyar aloofness.

    PS I Know someone who was awarded a scholarship by the risible Rockefeller Foundation, but that hardly indicates support…..

  10. paul walter

    This is a very sad thread. How are folk so irretreivably stupid on such issues?

  11. Lucy Hamilton

    Thanks for informative commentary (as usual), Andrew Smith.
    It is indeed fascinating to think that, originally, Orban was a hip ‘n’ cool young moderniser into Western ideas. Putin’s trajectory is not nearly so unexpected. I hope we have the scope to read future historians assessing what forces and individuals are to blame. I fear civilisational collapse might preempt that.

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