Tony Abbott should see that change is good

18 August 2009

When society evolves, so too must its institutions, argues Per Capita's David Hetherington in The Australian

THE POLITICIAN burning the midnight oil on a weighty intellectual treatise has become something of a trend. Kevin Rudd has produced two lengthy essays this year. Malcolm Turnbull recently responded, bravely claiming that his relative brevity might engender wit. The latest is Opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott, whose book Battlelines is described on its cover as "the essential manifesto for the thinking liberal".

Abbott's book is important for three reasons. First, it's important politicians engage with ideas. Politics driven by opinion polls and focus groups serves us poorly. Second, a critique of established wisdom is essential for any new opposition party. Tensions exist within the Liberal partyroom ranging from emissions trading to the rollback of Work Choices. These can be resolved only through debate over ideas. Third, the book is valuable for addressing the dilemma of a populist conservatism that is suddenly unpopular...

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David Hetherington is executive director of Per Capita


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