A Historic Remaking of the Ideological Landscape: the Liberal-Conservative Fracture

Stream: Panel 1 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics: Australia's Shifting Ideological Landscape
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Just over 100 hundred years ago, the rising power of Labor drove the traditional foes of liberal and conservatives to join forces. Since that time Australian politics has been characterized by the initiative-resistance thesis in which Labor pushed for change, and the liberal-conservative elements of the Liberal Party resisted. It was argued that this common cause united the two because the conservatives were defending the challenge to existing institutions as conservatives, while liberals were defending them because they were liberal. We are now witnessing what appears to be the liberal-conservative pact breaking apart. This paper will explore whether this is occurring because social democratic politics has ceased to be the major driver of change confronting society. As the challenge presented by the left has withered, the great driver of social change is increasingly seen as the nature of markets, globalization and the ways these underpin demands for greater racial and gender equality. In a world where globalization is the driver of change, liberals and social conservatives are sharply at odds on how to respond. As a result, we may be witnessing a historic remaking of the ideological landscape.


Lindy Edwards (Presenter), UNSW Canberra
Dr Lindy Edwards has been an adviser in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, a press gallery journalist and a political adviser. Her books include 'How to Argue with an Economist: Reopening Political Debate in Australia", "Neoliberalism: Beyond the Free Market", and "The Passion of Politics: the Role of Ideology in Australia".