Liberal Party

‘Reactionary’ Liberal Party No Longer the One of Free Enterprise, Personal Liberty that Robert Menzies Championed so Brilliantly

3 November 2023

2.5 MINS

Editor’s Note: Convictions held by those in the modern-day Liberal Party no longer stack up to the conservative superheroes of the past, writes Will Kingston in this sobering article from Sky News.


Cosplay is a portmanteau of “costume play”.

In essence, it’s an opportunity for socially awkward nerds to dress up as their favourite superheroes at comic book conventions. Harmless fun, for the most part.

There’s one group of socially awkward nerds that has developed a more dangerous cosplay habit.

Conservative politicians.

We live in the age of the “cosplay conservative”.

Faking It

Across the Anglosphere, right-leaning politicians are cloaking themselves in the rhetoric of the conservative superheroes of yesteryear: Reagan, Thatcher, Menzies and Howard.

They know the scripts. They parrot the lines.

Some quite literally wear the costume, although Liz Truss discovered that a Thatcher-inspired wardrobe was no guarantee of Thatcher-esque longevity.

The reality is few of them share the same convictions.

In the UK, notionally conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak donned his costume at the Conservative Party conference, vowing to emulate Margaret Thatcher by “fundamentally changing [the] country.”

How? Everyone born after January 1, 2009, will be banned from buying cigarettes – which is an industry that Thatcher supported.

It’s the sort of kindly authoritarian claptrap that she would have reviled.

Jacinda Ardern, on the other hand, loves it.

It was originally her idea.

Across the pond, the GOP’s costume hasn’t changed in over 30 years.

It was recently dusted off at the second Republican primary debate, held in the [drumroll please] Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

It’s become a “quadrennial tradition”, according to Bloomberg Columnist Joshua Green.

“Every cycle, GOP presidential candidates show up to genuflect to ‘The Gipper’… and try to persuade Republican voters that they’re the best suited to take up the mantle of the sainted 40th president,” he wrote.

Of course, the debate itself contained precious few examples of the hawkish foreign policy, small government instincts and free-market economics that characterised Reaganism.


Closer to home, cosplay conservatism has become the default setting of today’s Liberal Party.

‘The party of Robert Menzies’, as Liberal politicians so like to say, is no longer the party of Robert Menzies.

Unlike Menzies, they don’t champion the freedom of the individual.

The Morrison government’s COVID response revealed there is no institutional instinct towards personal liberty in the Liberal Party.

Unlike Menzies, they don’t consistently promote free enterprise.

WorkChoices died the year the iPhone was born, and yet its ghost still scares Liberals away from the industrial relations arena.

Unlike Australia’s longest-serving PM, they show little inclination towards reining in government largesse.

Tony Abbott’s first budget is almost a decade behind us, but the scars of poorly communicated spending cuts are still visible on the Liberal psyche, if not the economy.

Most, unlike Menzies, have retreated from the battlefield of ideas.

It was Menzies who said:

“Modern history is full of examples of great movements that disappeared because they had ceased to have any genuine reason for existence.

“The important thing is to have a faith to live by.”

Here’s the thing.

Putting on the ‘John Howard costume’ is easy.

But living by a political faith, as Mr Howard did, is hard.

As Mr Howard’s former deputy prime minister, John Anderson, recently asked me:

“Do you think we [the Howard government] had a constituency for deficit reduction? Of course not. We had to make the case.”

Making the case for conservatism is hard.

But it always has been.

It requires discipline, persuasion, and the promotion of new conservative ideas, rather than mere reactionary instincts.

Unfortunately for the Liberals, not even the best costume can substitute for those virtues.


Will Kingston is a columnist at and a panellist on The Bolt Report at 7 p.m. every Tuesday on Sky News Australia. He also hosts The Spectator Australia’s ‘Australiana’ podcast.

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  1. Albert 3 November 2023 at 8:24 am - Reply

    It has sadly been obvious for some (too long) time.

  2. Leonie Robson 3 November 2023 at 8:42 am - Reply

    The term ‘Uniparty’ is heard pretty regularly nowadays and for good reason.
    We see little difference between Labor and Liberal regarding the insanity of Net Zero, right to Life and the Alphabet lobby.
    We were crushed by Liberal coalition Federal Government in Covid insanity, gleefully aided by rampant cruelty of Labor State Governments.
    Where did we turn?
    For us it was the Freedom parties….but they failed to launch after the lies pushed by the media and governmental agencies that we were ‘kept safe’.
    What a quagmire of inept and spineless representatives parading around the halls of power pretending to care.
    A nation is tried in the fire of adversity and we have seen the weak and untrustworthy exposed, though many of our fellow citizens are still easily swayed by promises never honoured unless they promote the agendas of the day.
    The stark contrast of our few good men and women in these halls of power certainly stand out as shining lights in a bleak political landscape.
    God bless them.
    And may God still be gracious and merciful to this country.
    Like the other crumbling countries of the west who have abandoned His ways, we don’t deserve it.

    • Jim Twelves 6 November 2023 at 9:12 am - Reply

      Leonie, I agree 100% with everything you say here. I agree that ‘we’ are not being represented any longer by our parliamentarians. However, respectfully, I do take issue with your last sentence! So sadly, I do think we deserve it. We have turned the blind eye and we have been acquiescent at other times. The result is what we have as you and Will Kingston so eloquently describe it.
      I am not going to end on a negative. I think that the daily Declaration is doing a magnificent job in shining a spot light on the problem so that we can embolden those around us to take a stand. I don’t believe its too late, and even if it is, like the leprous men in the Old Testament, if we do nothing, we die, if we do something, God may bless us!

      • Leonie Robson 7 November 2023 at 11:24 am - Reply

        Totally agree brother, the ‘we don’t deserve it ‘ line meant our being deserving of His mercy….
        Clarity is key in writing and editing, and methinks I missed the mark on this one! lol.
        Blessings Jim.

    • Warwick Marsh 8 November 2023 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Brilliant comment!!! Leonie you should turn this into an article!!!

  3. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 3 November 2023 at 11:28 am - Reply

    The Liberal Party has been for too long virtually identical with the Labor and Greens which is why they lost govt. I stopped being a Liberal Party Member years ago because under the Tasmanian Liberal Party I was finger-printed after I voluntarily gave evidence which could perhaps solve a murder and a disap pearance ? How can I be a suspect as I was never a tourist or resident in Tasmania at the time, as the only time I had previously been in Tasmania was 23 Years BEFORE (in 1983 when I stayed as a guest at the Tasmania Police Academy whose Head was related to my deceased husband ! ) Then, Tasmania Police smashed into my home on a fake report I was ” lying injured inside “. They accepted liability for the damage which they have never honoured. I have been left with IRREPAIRABLE damage to my home which I was forced to take off the market ! The so-called “Integrity Board “refused to consider my Complaint, so, did the Police Minister, the same Liberal Premier (Rockliff ) who urged us to vote “Yes “to “The Voice “, and, the Governor – General gave another Medal for ” HONOURABLE Service ” to Police Commissioner Hine despite my Complaint to him ! WHO is going to give Australia an honest govt of integrity , not full of atheists like Liberal Sen. Birmingham ( who is pro – Abortion and , in my opinion, weak on security ) , the atheist Greens and some Independants, plus Moslems like Husic , Aly and others ?Moslems (Hamas and others ) want to destroy Israel. It is not the first time as in circa 600AD Mohammed killed all the rich Jewish merchants in Medina. I believe that as Christians we are next on their Hit
    list !
    My suggestion is we lobby the Federal Liberal Party to pre-select politicians with Christian, pro -Australian values.

    • Jim Twelves 6 November 2023 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Wow, what a story! I do commend you 100% on your last sentence, thank you. But may I add a plug for the minor parties. Yes they got a very raw deal last round, but I do believe there is value there, particularly in the Family First Party.

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