Is this Australia’s conservative comeback?

Reminiscent of the original 1974 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the United States, around 500 loyal conservatives filled a Sydney hotel ballroom for the first of such event in Australia.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, giving his first major public address since the Federal Election, was welcomed enthusiastically by university students to the elderly with one member of  the conservative audience asking “when will you come back [as a parliamentarian]?”

Speaking on the strengths of center-right pragmatism, the conservative former Prime Minister also emphasised that those with opposing views were mostly not bad people.

Sharing such views also included former deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, who stressed that much respect and improvement is needed to lift the standard of conversation.

According to Abbott, the previous Howard government was with good character that included cabinet members that refused to “leak” on each other, something that Abbott pointed out as being absent in Australian politics over the past 10 years.

Also speaking at CPAC was 2 high profile ex-members of the Australian Labor Party, former opposition leader Mark Latham and former party president Warren Mundine.

The current New South Wales’ One Nation Upper House member, Mark Latham spoke alongside fellow SkyNews Outsiders’ commentators Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean in front of a projection from the latest cover of the Spectator Australia magazine depicting the new abortion laws in the state.

Mundine who was on Tony Abbott’s Indigenous Advisory Council after exiting the Labor Party, accused the socialist left of attempting to keep Indigenous Australians in poverty by growing inter-generational well-fare dependency, instead of developing new businesses to provide employment opportunities.

Indigenous woman and Alice Springs Town Councillor, Jacinta Price later spoke of the opportunities she had growing up to succeed, noting that her heritage did not mean she had to hold a progressive left-wing political point of view.

Organiser of CPAC Australia, Andrew Cooper jokingly remarked that “change is possible” in the case of Latham and Mundine, in an event which had been scandalised by Labor Senator Kristina Keneally’s call for British speaker Raheem Kassam to be banned from the country.

The Senator’s assertion that Kassam was presenting “hate speech” was refuted by fellow Senator Amanda Stoker as “speech that Keneally hates” while speaking on improving productivity in the Australian economy.

Senator Keneally’s attempt to deny Kassam, an ex-Muslim and founder of an anti-radicalisation group was seized upon throughout the first day of the conference as left-wing censorship and intolerance of dissent.

The former Brietbart editor, Kassam with the online support from Donald Trump Junior hit back at Keneally, accusing the Senator of using parliamentary privilege to slander “a young brown guy” for holding different political views.

The Western world’s departure from Christianity was also a frequent lament raised by speakers including Mark Latham who is not a Christian but commented that the “teachings of Jesus were more relevant now than ever before”.

The need for Judeo-Christian values was also highlighted in the changing attitude to abortion both in the United States and most recently in Australia with New South Wales just passing laws which some have argued would allow for sex-selective abortion up to the point of birth.

“We have abandoned a few anchor points [including] respect for human life” said Abbott, with such sentiment later echoed by United States Judge Jeanine Pirro saying that there’s been a shift in the understanding of the meaning of life and that “a lot of things have been turned upside down”.

Judge Jeannie Pirro went on to criticise the American left’s refusal to accept the reality of President Donald Trump’s 2016 election win and labelled the Russia collusion investigation as a “pathetic use of power over the past 3 years”.

North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows shared the stage with the American Conservative Union’s Matt Schlapp in highlighting that “the squad” comprised of congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib were too focused on personal attacks on political opponents rather than having an interest to debate their ideas.

An attempt by several audience members to replicate chanting at Trump rallies with a shout of “send her back”, referring to Senator Keneally’s American birthplace drew laughter and an immediate shutdown from from both Schlapp and Meadows.

Drawing the loudest rounds of applause and laughter however was the Institute of Public Affairs’ Janet Albrechtsen in her declaration that there is “no human right to a Brazilian” in reference to controversy surrounding trans-woman Jessica Yaniv’s legal attempts in Canada to force estheticians to wax her male genitalia.

Psychiatrist and author of Fragile Nation, Tanveer Ahmed also spoke about the increasing reliance of medication to treat “mental health” issues involving suffering that would previously been addressed through a religious or spiritual approach.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and Australian polticial commentator Daisy Cousens are among other speakers scheduled to speak on the second day of the CPAC Australia event.

Tickets for CPAC Australia ranged from $89 for a Day Pass to $599 for VIP access across the 3 day event at Sydney’s World Square Rydges Hotel.

Right-wing advocacy group Advance Australia and anti-communist newspaper The Epoch Times were also present at the event.

Several police officers were present outside the venue but unlike other conservative speaking events, there was no protesters from left wing or ANTIFA groups.

Organisers have announced plans to expand the CPAC Australia event in 2020.

Tony Abbott, Andrew Cooper, John Anderson at CPAC Australia receiving multiple standing ovations on 9 August 2019. Photo: Roydon Ng