Sunday, 19 February 2012

PRESERVING LEADERS (Spectator leader Feb 18)

In some parts of the world, they hollow out their innards, stuff them full of chemicals, and pop them on display for future generations to behold. Elsewhere, they prefer to carve their faces onto rocky mountains.

In Australia, we have several ways of preserving leaders, depending on which side of the political divide they come from. Labor, for instance, used to love making TV mini-series about their heroes, but nowadays, the party prefers to hang on to leadership, rather than leaders per se (see above.) Intriguingly, the only plea we have heard recently for Julia Gillard to be preserved (chemically or otherwise) came from George Megalogenis in the Australian, who offers the “annoying advice” – his words, not ours - to Abbott and Rudd to stop picking on the PM and let her get on with the excellent job she and her Treasurer are doing of trashing – our word, not his - our future prosperity.

Liberals have always been shy about honoring former leaders’ legacies. Several years ago we mentioned the extraordinary achievements of the nation’s first woman cabinet minister, the rarely acknowledged Enid Lyons, and noted that on many “leftist” issues (immigration, gun laws, Aboriginal rights, conservation) it was the Liberals, not Labor, who took the all-important first steps; from Menzies and Holt to Fraser and Howard.

So we applaud the call from George Brandis and Josh Frydenberg for Liberals to redress the neglect of their own history and traditions, made at the launch of a display of portraits of Liberal leaders. (We suspect Josh may one day find himself hanging up there with them.) George Orwell wrote: “Who controls the past, controls the future.” With Labor barely capable of preserving their current leaders, it is timely that Liberals choose to celebrate the achievements of their own.

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