Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class: From Alfred by Judith Brett

By Judith Brett

Judith Brett, award-winning writer and recognized Australian political scientist, presents the 1st whole historical past of the Australian liberal culture, in addition to of the Liberal celebration from the second one half the 20 th century. The Liberal social gathering of Australia used to be overdue to shape in 1945, however the traditions and beliefs upon which it's based were valuable to Australian politics because federation.

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31 Rather than relying on ‘bogey breeding epithets’ like socialism to condemn a proposal, Deakin committed his Liberals to the ‘plain, practical, sympathetic scrutiny … of every proposal on its own merits apart from names or systems’. 33 In contrast with his scorn for the anti-socialists, Deakin looked favourably on Labor: [it] is not distinguished from the Liberal Party in regard to its main principle of seeking social justice. It is not divided from the Liberals when we trust the people with the powers of self-government.

Yes, this was partly about class, in that men and women of means with autonomy in their day-to-day lives were more likely to experience themselves as independent, but it was not just about class and it did not present itself to such people as a matter of class or economic interest. Rather, in today’s terms, it was an identity issue. For such people, to join the Labor Party and sign the pledge was to give up one of the things which made them human, their freedom of conscience and independence of judgement, and to compromise their control over their moral integrity and their character, which was for many their self ’s chief attribute and achievement.

Roman Catholics were welcome in their parties, but only if they displayed and adhered to these virtues. But even when Catholics tried their hardest it was difficult for them ever to be entirely free of the suspicions which dogged their religion. When John Cramer won preselection for a winnable Liberal party seat at the 1949 election, he was aware that he ‘was something of a freak, as it had seemed in the whole of Australia almost impossible for a Catholic to win preselection for a safe seat in the Liberal Party’, as indeed had been the case in the United Australia Party (UAP) and the Nationalists before that.

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