The issue ‘destroying’ Aussie culture
IF BOB Hawke was an early career politician today, the plain-talking larrikin would've inevitably offended a certain cohort on Twitter and become a victim of "cancel culture".
That's the view of Liz Storer, who's settling into her new role as the boss of Advance Australia - the right's version of left-wing activist group GetUp.
The 36-year-old former political adviser believes there are "millions more of us" than what she describes as the "radical left".
It's just that her potential supporters - quiet Australians, to borrow a phrase from Scott Morrison - haven't felt a sense of urgency to get involved in "boots on the ground" activism.
Until recently, that is.
"You know what I think the vast majority of mainstream Australians miss? The straight-talking Aussies of the past. I know I do," Ms Storer told new.com.au.
"This political correctness rubbish has absolutely undermined our culture - our larrikinism, our very heritage. What we've become … this is not us."
Ms Storer claims the broader community has been paralysed by fear - a fear of saying the wrong thing, being shamed, having their businesses boycotted or being "bullied" online.
"I used to love watching political clips of Paul Keating, (Bob) Hawke - those guys were straight shooters before political correctness rotted the way we talk, the way we relate to each other, the way we do business, the way we conduct politics.
"These days, they would've absolutely been de-platformed.
"It's why politicians now are having to dumb down their speech, to try to say things in a way that ticks the PC box."
She believes many figures in Canberra - of all ilks - are a shadow of what they used to be - not saying or doing much out of fear of losing votes.
"Say it like it is, call it like it is. If you want to be respected by the Australian public, that's what you'll do. So far, the only role political correctness has played is to eat away at our heritage, our very culture as Aussies."
It might come as no surprise who she blames for the trend.
"This culture of pandering to the radical left, can't be seen to call a spade a spade, dance around it, we want everyone's votes come the next election, it has such far-reaching effects," Ms Storer said.
Ms Storer points to the recent decision by Inner West Council in Sydney to cancel Australia Day festivities on January 26 out of respect to Indigenous peoples - a decision reportedly based on just 37 survey responses.
"Whether it's climate alarmism, cancelling Australia Day, threatening free speech … it's this squeaky wheel getting the oil. But the radical left are not the majority.
"It's a small contingent getting upset about what the majority of us mainstream Australians are up to."
She also attacked the "de-platforming" of Australian tennis great Margaret Court and rugby union star Israel Folau over their religious views and homophobic remarks.
"This constant bullying by the left - you're not allowed to have a dissenting opinion," Ms Storer said. "People cop it because they won't bow a knee to the PC authoritarian rubbish.
"I do believe mainstream Australians are well and truly waking up to this. They're sick and tired of the tripe."
While she wouldn't be drawn on whether she accepted some of Ms Court and Mr Folau's remarks were offensive to the LGBT community, Ms Storer said it was unfair for anyone to suffer because of their personal beliefs.
"There's no mainstream Australian who'll look at that and think it's fair and it's OK," she said. "Once again, it's the radical left."
Advance Australia launched about a year ago in a bid to mobilise the centre right to champion its own issues of importance.
"The centre right is best known for our thought leadership," she said. "There are lots of groups out there doing good work, but we're lacking in boots on the ground."
Ms Storer, who has worked as an adviser to Liberal MPs at a state and federal level, was herself a local councillor in Perth for two years. Her efforts now will be focused on expanding Advance Australia's membership base and campaigning efforts.
In Ms Storer's view, "there's no end of work to do", but she identified free speech, climate change "alarmism" and national sovereignty as major concerns.
Advance Australia has 45,000 members across the country, she says, and they call the shots, deciding what campaigns are rolled out.
While the group might be on the right, Ms Storer isn't shy to criticise her own side when the need arises.
"We (recently) saw our PM give $1 billion more, taxpayer dollars, to the CEFC (Clean Energy Finance Corporation). For what? These guys started back in 2012 as a Labor-created, snot wad of a useless body," she said.
"They sunk $11 billion into it at the time. It's done absolutely nothing, except ruin our grid with a pile of unreliable renewables.
"We've heard en masse from our supporters saying they elected a Liberal Government that have just enacted a Labor Party.
"I don't care whether you're in opposition or in government, Advance Australia is here to speak for the mainstream. Whether you're blue team or red team, we will fight you if you're not representing us.
"We will be speaking up and calling out hypocrisy. You certainly cannot be elected saying one thing and less than six months, change and do another. You're not going to get away with it."
Despite some of her pointed language when discussing "the left", Ms Storer doesn't believe Australians are any more divided now than they have been.
She even claimed to champion a respect for differing opinions and political views.
"We can respectfully disagree with each other - we live in a representative democracy," she said.
"Australia is the land of opportunity. That is the best thing about this place. We (can be) a lot better than we are now.
"I'm optimistic about the future because Australia, in my humble opinion, and I've travelled the world, is the best country on earth."
But Ms Storer then added: "But are the radical left undermining that? Absolutely."