Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Australia's Opposition Leader Tony Abbott Calls Obama Presidency The ‘Most Left-Of-Centre Government In At Least Half A Century'. He’s Right

The Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel has a revealing interview in World Affairs Journal with Australian Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, who is in a strong position to become Australia’s prime minister later this year (the general election will be held on September 14.) It’s a rare interview for Abbott with the foreign press, and it’s revealing in its insights on how Australia’s most senior conservative views President Obama and the direction in which he’s taking the United States. Abbott is a leader in the John Howard mould, with a keen understanding of what ordinary voters really care about. He’s in favour of lower taxes, reducing government spending, cutting red tape, getting rid of government waste, limiting the welfare state, and is tough on illegal immigration. He believes that Australia, much like the United States and Great Britain, is at heart a conservative country. As Abbott puts it, “all successful societies are inherently conservative.” It’s clear from this interview, however, that Abbott thinks America is heading down the wrong path under Barack Obama, comparing the Obama administration’s big government approach to that of the socialist Labor government in Canberra. As he notes in his interview with Kissel: “The Rudd-Gillard government has been a highly statist government, the Brown government reverted to statism with a vengeance in Britain, and Obama is the most left-of-center government in at least half a century.” (At this, the media minder shifts in his chair.)
“Now I’m not being critical of Obama,” Abbott adds, soft-pedaling his response in a way he probably wouldn’t have a few years ago, when he was a minister in the Howard government. “He’s following a well-trod path. But I think it is a fact that the Obama government is a much more statist government than the Clinton administration.” Abbott’s frank assessment of President Obama’s big government agenda is a breath of fresh of fresh air. Contrast his words with the fawning approach taken by David Cameron in Britain, who holds up Obama’s Leftist policies as an inspiration rather than a warning. Abbott of course is absolutely right in his analysis of the Obama presidency, though a tad generous. As I’ve noted in previous pieces for The Telegraph, Barack Obama is not only the most Left-wing president of the last half century, he is the most liberal president in US history. In his four and a half years in office, President Obama has dramatically increased the role of government in American society, greatly expanded dependency on the state, and significantly undercut economic freedom in the world’s superpower. Tony Abbott has pledged to do the opposite in Australia, advancing policies that rein in the deathly hand of big government, and advance the cause of freedom. Like John Howard before him, Abbott comes across as a conviction politician with a good understanding of the grassroots, who speaks a language that conservative voters can actually relate to. We need more leaders like him, in both Britain and the United States.