Libs must return to roots



The Australian

11th January 2008


Daniel Finkelstein of The Times is right in thinking (Opinion, 10/1) that "conservative" parties have to change their philosophical approach but he is mistaken in suggesting small-government has waning appeal. The reality is that in none of the UK, the US or Australia has it been tried over the last 10 years. In Australia the burden of taxation increased under the Howard government by about 2.5 percentage points of GDP and Finkelstein's conservative mates in the UK allowed Tony Blair to expand the size of government with scarcely a squeak.


In Australia the move by Labor to a centrist position has created a major challenge to a Liberal party that has itself been centrist in practice. There is ample justification and scope for the party to give real meaning to its stated belief in small government. Unless it does so, Labor may be in government for many years yet.