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  • Peter Francis Fenwick

Dead Buried and Cremated

The party of Menzies died last week. It had been a party built on the bourgeois values of responsibility, love, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude, thrift, diligence, industriousness, reliability, trustworthiness, courage, civility, generosity, hospitality, duty and honour. It no longer holds these beliefs.

All organisations cohere around an identity. They identify their beliefs, their values and their aspirations. These are the things that attract adherents and guide the organisation on how to do what it wants to do. Once an organisation ceases to uphold its beliefs, it dies. It has no reason for existence.

On Tuesday 10th May, 2017 Scott Morrison brought down a budget that contradicted all that Menzies stood for. The party of Menzies no longer exists.

We now have a Parliament of national unity promoting a social democratic welfare ideology. Apparently, holding opposing views is just too much bother.

If this ideology were a proven success that might not matter. The problem is that it is a proven failure.

Throughout the Western world, the social democratic welfare state has been exposed as economically unsustainable.

The regulatory and coercive powers of the state have been captured by sectional interests for their own economic benefit. Once the state is allowed to enrich some groups at the expense of others, it creates the motive for political influence and the mechanism for the illegitimate use of the state for selfish interests. The consequences of this mistake have been dire. A sense of entitlement prevails. Individuals lack responsibility. Power is abused. Civil virtues decline.

As Yuval Levin explained:

“Because all citizens – not only the poor – become recipients of benefits, people in the middle class come to approach their government as claimants, not as self-governing citizens, and to approach the social safety net not as a great majority of givers eager to make sure that a small minority of recipients are spared from devastating poverty, but as a mass of dependants demanding what they are owed. It is hard to imagine an ethic better suited to undermining the moral basis of a free society.”

Sixty percent of households now receive more in benefits than they pay in income tax. Many of the rest are dependent on the government for their salaries – some, especially in government agencies, quite large ones. If it looks unsustainable, that is because it is. Welfare benefits cannot be reduced without losing voters. The future looks grim.


The phrase "Dead, Buried and Cremated" was coined by former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott firstly about "Work Choices" and secondly about the "Medicare Co-payment". Both policies had failed to win popular approval.

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