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CPAC’s travelling show can pack up and go home. And stay there.

“I’ve been to the border,” Fox TV’s Judge Jeanine Pirro says. US citizens living there talk of “rape trees” upon which the clothes of rape victims are hung she says. They talk of children having their hearts cut out with machetes. The US, as Donald Trump regularly tweets, is under siege; its way of life threatened by an invasion of rapists from south of the border. Trump’s re-election campaign team repeats the siege message 2199 times in paid Facebook ads since January.

Welcome to the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC ‘s travelling show, a rabble of far right US fear-mongers, liars and conspiracy crackpots convinced by Trump’s canard that George Soros or The Democrats fund the migrant caravan. It’s a popular idea which provokes distrust and permits inhumanity.

Peter Dutton expresses similar ideas regarding our refugees on Manus and Nauru. He claims they are “economic refugees” who own “Armani jeans and handbags”.

Add the odd stray Brexiteer and sundry alt-right camp followers. Blend in two, confused members of the Morrison government, Craig Kelly and Amanda Stoker, bestowing a type of legitimacy -and presto -we have a three-day bag-fest of racist hatred, intolerance and ignorance vital to any healthy democracy. Or so our Federal government insists.

CPAC’s enriched US politics. It helped launch Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, two useful idiots who could attract, repel or just distract the masses while lowering taxes and elevating naked greed; allowing finance, business, mining and gambling get everything they want. It’s a recipe for success that the Morrison government is following religiously.

The gory border story is a fiction told by Trump buddy Judge Jeanine. It’s all part of the enriching offerings to a conference which our Coalition government has sagely declared not to be white hate speech at all. Nope. Nope. Nope.

CPAC’s the voice of sweet reason itself, a symposium vital to any free speech-embracing democracy to add to its community conversation about why we should hate Mexican rapists, child-murderers and fear refugee-invasion. In local content, Craig Kelly MP says the CSIRO should go to jail for its science and calls for us to embrace nuclear power plants.

How good is the power of the nuclear energy industry?

Pirro’s in Sydney to help spread hate and fear at CPAC, a forum for the lunatic right, which began in 1974, with a speech from Ronald Reagan who entered national politics ten years earlier after a televised address promoting Barry Goldwater. Reagan’s talk did not help Goldwater win the election. Oddly, voters saw Barry as a dangerous, right-wing extremist.

True, Goldwater did want to nuke Hanoi. But this strategy was also advocated in 1965 by the US military’s Joint Chiefs during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Daniel Ellsberg reports, a plan, he believes, which was aimed at provoking a nuclear war with China. The Joint Chiefs envisaged a big show which would need 500,000 to a million troops.

Even more oddly, Johnson said no. He chose to do some socially useful projects. His Great Society and War on Poverty.

All was not lost, however. California’s business elite saw in Reagan a man with the charm to sell right-wing extremism. Reagan was duly recruited as Republican Party candidate for Governor of California. He won easily by promising tax cuts. His victory was helped by a smear campaign against his opponent, Pat Brown. Trump’s rise to power has many parallels.

Star of her own Fox reality TV show, Justice with Judge Jeanine, Pirro is more than an incendiary hate-speaker, she’s a total pyromaniac. Her role as a tireless Trump cheer-leader has helped her to rebuild her TV career after a setback in the 1990s when her ex-husband Al Pirro, a Trump power-broker, went to jail for conspiracy and tax evasion.

Trump’s a HUGE fan. Not only does their friendship go back decades, the pair enjoy what The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison calls “transactional loyalty”, a concept well understood by Morrison and Liberal Party leadership strategists.

“She’s as sexy as hell,” Trump tells New York Magazine; Pirro’s show is a relentless defence of everything Trump, but this week, she’s in Sydney spreading a type of lie that inflames prejudice and helps incite violence. Invasion is a fixation in the online manifesto of Patrick Crusius, the 21 year old who is accused of killing 22 people in a Texas Wal-Mart.

Headline speakers, such as Pirro, peddle xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, hatred and work themselves into a lather with their lurid anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic murder and rape fantasies in a ballroom set up with brown vinyl chairs at Sydney’s Rydge’s World Square Hotel, Friday to Sunday. But it’s not all rabid hate-speaking. Organisers thoughtfully include some local comic talent. Clown duo, Mark Latham and Ross Cameron, for example, do the warm-up.

Boosted as the largest gathering of conservatives in Australia, in fact it’s tiny; roughly one tenth of the size of all registered Tasmanian Organ Donors or 0.17% of the Melbourne Cricket Club’s waiting list.

But size doesn’t matter. Organisers have deep pockets; grand plans. CPAC’s powerful backers tell The Guardian’s Michael McGowan, they are committed to making the event a “multi-year, forever-type project” aimed at “galvanising” the right wing of Australian politics. Why not? Luigi Galvani even made dead frogs’ legs twitch by applying an electric current.

CPAC’s a show that ScoMo & Co sagely decide we all need to see. In fact, there are more than a few members of the government mad keen to attend – but don’t for a moment think MPs’ attendance is any endorsement, cautions failed Dutton coup numbers man, Matthias Cormann. No? Nor does it add any legitimacy to see George Christensen in the crowd, Jim Molan, former deputy PM National Party hack and mining shill John Anderson with Tony Abbott on stage.

Liberal Party MP when he’s not doing stand-up comedy, Craig Kelly’s a crack-up with his routine about how Tony Abbott won the Coalition’s election for it by attracting all the “crazies” to Warringah. “Took the bullets” for the others, he says, in what has to be least well-judged metaphor of the week. But wait. There’s more. Kelly says CSIRO ought to be in jail.

He accuses the science agency of a “bogus report” on energy costs because its 2018 report finds solar and wind generation technologies are the cheapest power stations to “build new”. CSIRO, of course, is correct. So, too is The Climate Council which reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conclusion,

“Due to the continued fall in the cost of wind and solar, as well as the higher international price for black coal, it is now the same cost or cheaper to build a new wind or solar plant in Australia than to continue operating old coal power stations in New South Wales and Queensland.”

“If an ASX-listed company said that in an annual report, they would likely end up in jail because of how misleading it is,” Kelly claims modelling, himself, the sort of wilful disinformation he tries to rail against.

Meanwhile, Federal Energy Minister, the Watergate and Grass-gate survivor, Angus Gravy-train, Taylor is forming “a new taskforce” to pressure AGL to keep coal-fired Liddell power station open. It’s all part of ScoMo & Co’s big-stick approach.

Taylor says his taskforce, to be set up in partnership with the NSW Government, will consider “all options” – Liberal code for putting on blinkers; propping up coal. He does not rule out using taxpayer money to extend the life of the plant. AGL responds by pointing out that doing so would cost “a lot of money” and any such move “does not stack up.”

The IMF reports that the Australian tax-payer is already subsidising fossil-fuel industries to the tune of $29 billion a year.

In the CPAC spirit of personalised ridicule, Kelly has a presentation trophy to award to Labor Senator, Kristina Keneally.

“This is the CPAC Freedom Award, which goes to the individual who has done the most to promote the CPAC conference,” Kelly tells about 200 attendees. Thigh-slapping hilarity erupts on one side only. Keneally sees it as part of a Two-minute Hate and straight from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future 1984.

“It’s uncanny how much CPAC is exactly what it claims to oppose,” Keneally tweets. “They are … spending all day yelling about their ‘enemies’. This is exactly how people under totalitarian regimes behave.” And key National Party figures.

Farmers’ friend and champion of the man on the land, John Anderson was chairman of coal seam gas frontrunner Eastern Star Gas, bought out by Santos in 2011. He’s one of a herd of former Nationals MP who model transactional loyalty, locally, despite some fuddy-duddy farmers seeing the defection from agriculture to mining as a betrayal.

Former Nationals MP, and pro-coal energy minister, Garry West ,chairs, for undisclosed sums, the Integra Vale, Ulan coal, Moorlaben coal, and the BHP Caroona Coal project, adjacent to Shenhua Watermark’s mine. It’s all part of the mining industry community consultation hoax. Former Nat, Larry Anthony, a former Shenhua Watermark lobbyist, was an advocate for a coal mine which was recently in the news for rigging the storage volume of underground aquifers.

“The values used were implausibly high based on our research,” Ian Acworth, UNSW Emeritus Professor, says in May.

Asking the questions, always more engaging than a talk, Ando interviews his old pal Abbo – who makes a double debut as ex-MP, and ex-PM. Australia is now a nation that offers “death on demand” warns the former minister for women, a master of the hollow three word slogan.

In NSW, an abortion law reform bill which has yet to pass the upper house, had been sprung on voters. “No due consultation”, protests the former PM who sprang a postal vote on marriage equality on the entire nation rather than face a divided party room. Victoria’s recent, assisted dying law proves we’ve lost our moral anchor points. Christianity used to anchor our morality, asserts Abbott, whose former spiritual mentor and adviser was Cardinal George Pell.

Death on demand? Lost moral anchor? “It’s pretty rich”, writes Junkee’s Joseph Earp, “coming from a man who helped speed along an environmental apocalypse that will cost the lives of animals and humans alike.”

“Faith is a gift,” Abbott offers generously. “Some people have it, some people don’t.” Go bite an onion.

Recording or photographing Abbott’s riff is forbidden. He insists. Some of the small audience applaud. The left, he says, opaquely, is wallowing in identity. Wallowing. “Spiritually we’ve rarely been worse off than we are now,” he adds for good measure, perhaps, a typically public-spirited projection of his own long, dark, night of the soul.

Equally benighted but in Australia’s post-modern under-paid, casual, part-time workplace where wage theft is rife, Queensland senator, Amanda Stoker drones on about how industrial relations means labour hire and localised enterprise-bargaining, a vision of the future, surely, now that the government has its Ensuring Integrity bill through the lower house. The cross-bench will be sure to fall in line, especially if demon union thug John Setka’s name is mentioned.

But don’t get the wrong idea. So the government is cosying up to the lunar right in public? Don’t mean a thing. OK? But it does lend a dangerous legitimacy to the lunar right, as Jason Wright thoughtfully observes in The Guardian.

Raheem Kassam, a former Breitbart London editor who calls the Muslim holy book, the Quran, “fundamentally evil”, and Islam a fascistic and totalitarian ideology,” is a “career bigot” says Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Kristina Keneally. Last month, Keneally unsuccessfully asked that he be denied entry to the country.

Friday, in a speech largely devoted to attacking Kenneally and accusing her of putting his life in danger, Kassam says,

“She should be ashamed of herself … There’s nothing Christian about silencing your opposition,” he says, preferring an ad hominem attack on Senator Keneally and her Catholic beliefs, to any reasoned rebuttal. Kassam illustrates the fallacy of the Morrison government’s claim that CPAC even vaguely involves or promotes rational debate. Kenneally is closer to the mark when she describes the gathering as a “talk-fest of hate”. And anger.

Warming the chair for Sky’s David Speers, ABC Insiders’ Patricia Karvelas asks an evasive Simon Birmingham if “we are we seeing a more aggressive position taken by conservatives after the election of your government?”

Birmingham evades Karvelas’ question. He might well quibble with her misuse of the term. CPAC is conservative in name only.

Morrison’s government is cosying up in public to win votes from the radical right attending CPAC and those who share its prejudices, its racism and xenophobia. It is also being disingenuous about its motives and the effect of its attendance.

“Their attendance at this conference does not imply agreement or endorsement with the views of any of the other speakers attending in any way,” a dangerously deluded Cormann would have us believe. He fails to explain how or why not.

“The government will always stand against divisive, inflammatory commentary which seeks to incite hatred or which seeks to vilify people.”

“However the way to defeat bad ideas, bad arguments and unacceptable views is through debate, especially with those we disagree with. It is not by limiting our conversations only to those who at all times share all of our views.”

Cormann forgets Scott Morrison’s 2011 suggestion that the Coalition exploit anti-Muslim sentiment. Or when in 2015 Abbott allowed George Christensen to attend an anti-Muslim rally. Or Tony Abbott in 2015 insinuating Muslim leaders do not condemn terrorism: “I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.” Or when Abbott chose Syrian refugees on the basis of religion.

We could add many more examples. There’s Handy Andy Hastie’s “Islam must change.” But this just brings him into line with the budgie-smuggler who declared that Islam has a massive problem and who called for a “reformation”.

Penny Wong points out the difference between hate speech and “bad ideas.” The nonsense that any of the speakers attending is willing to enter into rational debate or is as farcical as expecting the Morrison government to heed the science on climate change or to expect Peter Dutton to retract his scare campaign on the dangers of refugees using Medevac legislation to flood our shores. Or issue an apology for his Melbourne African gang fear-mongering.

Having Cormann lecture us on bad ideas is hilarious coming from a man who tried to make Peter Dutton PM. As for rational debate, this is the Finance Minister who claims that tax cuts for the rich stimulate the economy. Sorry Matthias, you Belgian sausage, all evidence is to the contrary – especially in Trump’s Dis-United States of America.

But it’s a top show. Sponsored mainly by US organisations and gun, oil and cigarette industries, CPAC has deep ties to the Koch brothers. Our IPA, LibertyWorks and Advance Australia are also right behind the far right.

Augmenting top acts from Trump’s America is not only “Mr Brexit” nifty Nigel Farage, former head of the United Kingdom Independence Party, introduced to the CPAC audience as “quite possibly” Britain’s next PM. Seriously?

“A snake”, hisses Nigel Farage attacking a straw man; a mythical Malcolm Turnbull who starts out all right but who engineers a serpentine leftist coup. The crowd cheers, thrilled by Nige’s Olympian detachment, halcyon objectivity and utter historical falsehood. Farage’s farrago of lies offers a ludicrous parody of the hapless captive of the right.

“Your Liberal party, your conservative movement was hijacked by the other side, taken over by Malcolm Turnbull, who pretended to be a conservative but actually turned out to be a snake.”

Wrong in fact and egregiously wrong in function, CPAC and its backers can stay at home in the USA in future. We don’t need to invite far right ideologues or neo-fascists or hate-speakers to Australia. We have enough of our own at home, already.

Nor do we need to kid ourselves that CPAC speakers are interested in debate. All we’ve seen and heard is personal abuse and an eagerness to win converts to conspiracies.

There is a world of difference between freedom of speech and being granted a licence to spread hate-speech. And the last thing our politicians need is to court the far-right or let themselves be used to legitimise your fear-mongering and your lies.

Forget the idea of a “multi-year, forever, project”. Once is way more than enough.

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  1. David Bruce

    You forgot to mention the pedophilia links? Hillsong founder and others still active! Now that Jeffrey is out of the picture everything can go back to “normal”!

  2. Nigel Drake

    “All we’ve seen and heard is personal abuse and an eagerness to win converts to conspiracies.”

    Like the bases of all religions, then?!

  3. Kaye Lee

    Pirro described Hillary Clinton as “that hag” that the Democrats “tried to drag across the line”

    American congressman Mark Meadows and the American Conservative Union’s Matt Schlapp prompted a a brief “send her back” chant about Kristina Keneally.

    In a tough field, my favourite was Janet Albrechtsen saying “When someone treats another person with contempt, they’re putting that other person down and making themselves feel superior.”

    It was, she offered, part of what is exacerbating polarisation in western countries, Australia included.

    “Who amongst us hasn’t contributed to that problem from time to time?” she asked. “I know I have.”

    Oh do tell Janet. Your pitiful commentary about Julia Gillard was as bad as it gets.

  4. Andrew Smith

    Ideology and influence from elsewhere is unavoidable and especially the US; CPAC is another of many, now transnational, PR network/events used to manipulate govt., opinion and policy (who is manipulating whom?), related from Washington Post:

    ‘It had nothing to with us…. Long relegated to the fringes of the debate, these organizations have moved center stage under President Trump — helping to provide the intellectual and ideological framework for the administration’s hard-line immigration agenda, one that immigrant rights advocates have decried as xenophobic and racist.’

  5. Matters Not

    Schlapp was on the Drum last Thursday – espousing predictable stuff, that wife Mercedes (works for Trump) would’ve been proud of. To make matters worse Josephine Cashman was there as well. A disaster!

    Felt sorry for Josh Bornstein and Rick Morton who had to listen to that dribble while the compere of the day demonstrated why she has some distance to go in the hosting stakes. Amateur night.

    So many missed opportunities, it brought a tear to my eye.

  6. Lambert Simnel

    Matters Not, that was a shocker. Bornstein and Morton are ok, but I didn’t hang around for long with the other two there.

    Why does the Drum continue to subvert its own good intentions, drowning out some times good panellists in the waste and noise of utter village idiots?

    “Balance” should not require a lie for every truth, or idiocy for every skerrick of common sense.

  7. Kitty

    SBS talked to three young people who attended CPAC.

    Meet the people attending Australia’s first conservative politics mega conference

    I bet all three are members of Generation Liberty which is the IPA’s program for the under 25s.

    Throughout human history, freedom has been a force for good, lifting millions of people out of poverty. In a truly free society, individuals are in control of their own destiny.

    However, the key institutions of our society responsible for the education of our young people are increasingly unable or unwilling to pass on that understanding or the key values of freedom. In our schools and universities curricula increasingly tell a radical story which denigrates the western tradition and seeks to further a social agenda inimical to individual freedom and the rights which are part of our heritage.

    Yet our research shows the rising generation has a tremendous appetite for knowledge and experiences which are firmly grounded in freedom and the heritage of the West. We have therefore established the Generation Liberty program to reinvigorate the spark, energy, and passion of the next generation. Targeting those up to the age of 25, it bridges the gap between the next generation and the ideas of free markets, individual responsibility, capitalism, and democracy.

    The positive response we have been receiving from young people has reflected what we found in our research. The last two years have been landmark years for Generation Liberty. In the past 2 years our campus coordinators have held over 35 events reaching over 2600 young people. The events topics varied and included our debate series on capitalism vs socialism, an event about the positive contribution mining and coal makes to our nation, and multiple events discussing western civilisation.

    Key elements of the Generation Liberty program include:

    IPA Generation Liberty Membership, offering discounted IPA membership and building a network through publications, news and events.
    Fourteen campus coordinators operating in five States, current students representing the IPA on campus, providing information, running events, publishing commentary and building networks with like-minded organisations on campus (further information below).
    A dedicated Facebook page and a Generation Liberty Facebook group to enable members from across Australia to discuss ideas and policy issues.
    A program of research and publication highlighting the restrictions on debate, language and the scope of the curriculum that increasingly being put in place at Universities across the country. We produce the Free Speech on Campus Audit annually.
    Recently Generation Liberty hired Renee Gorman to take on the managing of Generation Liberty full-time. Renee used to be the campus coordinator at the University of Sydney, and gained a breadth of experience in her time there that she is bringing to her new role.”

    Generation Liberty

  8. terence mills

    I see that Peter Dutton is being praised in some quarters (e.g. SKY after dark) for coming out, albeit reluctantly, on Friday afternoon calling on the AFP to go easy on journalists.

    Let’s not forget where the order to raid the ABC and Newscorp journalist Annika Smethurst’s home came from:

    Text messages obtained by BuzzFeed News under freedom of information laws revealed that AFP deputy commissioner Neil Gaughan tipped off Dutton’s chief of staff, Craig Maclaughlan on 10 October, the day before the raid.

    >“That warrant activity will now be first thing tomorrow morning,” Gaughan said.

    “Thanks mate – this arvo also fine,” Maclaughlan replied.

    This type of psycho-spin gives me a headache !

  9. wam

    What a summary, David!
    Love the rabbott and the lunar right as part of cartel speeding up the climate apocalypse. The queer part is the other part was bob’s loonie left. Their union left Rudd and labor wallowing till the loonies created the disaster of juliar and reboosted the rabbott (the loonies again joined him in doubling the debt ceiling)

    Sadly, for my brain, the Christian and Muslim faith that forgives men who murder women and children and even rewards the men in heaven with virgin women but not gays, fornicators(women, I think men are all right and sneak past Pete to heavenly bonking).
    Freedom of religion can no longer mean ‘secrets’.
    The beliefs, at least those relating to women and each other, of Folau, scummo and Pell style christians and those of the Jewish and Muslims politicians must be freely available to the public.

  10. David Tyler

    Terence: You are spot on with your calling out of Dutton’s plea for the AFP to ease up on busting journalists (when we have so many other ways of coercion at our neo-police state fingertips). News Media Works reports Australia has slipped to 21st in the world in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. The main reasons have been the high media concentration, increased in 2018/19 by the merger between Fairfax and Nine. Other factors included journalism access to migrant detention centres run by the Australian government, and the strengthening of defamation laws in 2018.

    What they haven’t touched upon is our progress toward a police state. Crikey’s Bernard Keane offers a list of ways – too lengthy to include here.

    It’s worth another article but here’s his summary:

    “Yet we are becoming a specific kind of police state, in which the government hands itself ever more power to prevent scrutiny, deter and punish whistleblowers, smear opponents and hide its wrongdoing, using legal framework justified in the name of national security. We’re becoming a nation where embarrassing the government, or revealing its misconduct, has become a dangerous occupation. Perhaps police state is less accurate than an anti-dissent state.”

  11. David Tyler

    Kitty – thank you for your IPA information and especially their claim that “freedom lifts people out of poverty”. Coalition just loves to tell us that coal lifts people out of poverty – especially in relation to coal-fired power stations built by Adani which has secured a special agreement with the crony Modi government to supply electricity at inflated prices to the poor in its “pit to plug” strategy.

    Or else it’s the free trade miracle that does the trick. Or the free market. Neither of which are free.

    Sadly “generation liberty” appears to be a lot of hot air. With some very powerful mining lobby backers. Here’s a link to Ross Jones’ How Gina Rinehart bought the IPA.,11749

  12. David Tyler

    Moral anchor points? Given his CPAC speech, Tony Abbott’s daughter Frances will doubtless now be refunding her $60,000 to the Whitehouse Institute, a private design school with Liberal Party connections. Frances was awarded a $60,000 scholarship in 2011. Her teacher for three years, academic Melletios Kyriakidis is on record “morally outraged” by the waiving of Ms Abbott’s tuition fees, particularly, as he said at the time, given the government’s plans to increase the cost of degrees.

    Kyriakidis was dismissed for “breaching student privacy”.

  13. crypt0

    Surprised that the entire Liebral party wasn’t there

  14. johno

    Glad I wasn’t a fly on the wall.

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