Australia was very unfortunate to lose former Labor Senator Peter Walsh last week. The well respected politician from the Hawke/Keating years was the subject of a great opinion piece from Nick Cater this morning in The Australian:
Walsh, who died last week, aged 80, was uncommonly endowed with common sense, a virtue in short supply in today’s federal Labor Party. Confessions of a Failed Finance Minister, Walsh’s memoir published 20 years ago, provides a pertinent analysis of the moral arrogance that transformed Labor from the party of common people into the voice of the Balmain basketweavers.
From its “unseemly intimacy” with public sector unions, environmental activists and faith in global warming, to its adoption of “political correctness”:
Walsh foresaw the “cult” of political correctness that routinely smothers civic debate in these hypersensitive times. Its most pernicious consequence, said Walsh, was cultural relativity and a mood that threatened to undermine Australia’s Anglo-Celtic culture. “What psychotic disorder, what deep-seated se1f-loathing, causes people who are the beneficiaries of that heritage to constantly vilify and denigrate it?” he asks.
Labor, he suggested, was in danger of succumbing to a new illiberal force. The authoritarian Right, often associated with religion, had been superseded by “an authoritarian group which regards itself as Left progressive”.
“They are social engineers determined to control what people do, what they say — and if they could what people think — if necessary by legislation,” he wrote. Walsh strongly objected to Paul Keating’s amendments to the 1994 Racial Discrimination Act including the notorious section 18C, outlawing speech that might cause offence to an identifiable ethnic or racial group.
Read the rest of Cater’s article here ($).