Thank you to all of you who joined us for a special edition of IPA Encounters last night for a fascinating discussion between former Prime Minster and IPA Distinguished Fellow Tony Abbott and IPA Executive Director John Roskam.

Many of the themes that John and Tony talked about – the future of the Australian way of life, Australian values, and leadership in politics – are more relevant and important than ever before.

Just a few hours before IPA Encounters was recorded I sat down with Tony for our latest episode of Australia’s Heartland with Tony Abbott.

Tony and I discussed the issue of vaccine mandates, the detachment of the elites from the mainstream, and Tony shared some enthralling stories of his time as a fire-fighter and what being a volunteer taught him about life and politics.

You can listen to the episode on your web browser here, or on Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Podcasts. And remember, hit subscribe or “like” so that you don’t miss an episode.

You can also ring in to the Australian Heartland Hotline on 03 9946 4307 to leave your message, comment, or question for Tony.

In The Discussion this week I analyse the developing situation in Melbourne where thousands of workers have taken to the streets for the third straight day of protests against the lockdowns and vaccine mandates, and how this reveals Australian society is becoming more divided.

And The Must Read this week is by the great Frank Furedi of Spiked! about the genesis of the culture wars, in a piece called 100 years of the culture war.

Thank you for your support of the Australian way of life.

This week Tony and I discuss why Australians should be hopeful about the future; why national self-confidence is the first line of defence in any potential future conflict; and Tony shares with us a special story about his time as a fire-fighter and how it made him a better person and leader.

Plus, Tony takes your questions including on the CFMMEU worker freedom rallies and mandatory vaccinations.

You can listen to the episode on your web browser here, or on Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Podcasts. And remember, hit subscribe or “like” so that you don’t miss an episode.

In the latest episode of Australia’s Heartland with Tony Abbott former Prime Minister and IPA Distinguished Fellow Tony Abbott and I discussed the detachment of the elite from the mainstream of Australian society.

Tony said “the difference between the elites and the mainstream, and the difference between the leaders and the led is a widening gulf across the board.”

As if to prove the former Prime Minister’s observation, not one single union leader or Labor party official has sided with the workers who are currently being shot at with rubber bullets in Melbourne for protesting having their industry arbitrarily shut down.

What is happening right now in Melbourne is a developing situation. The protests by construction workers who are members of the CFMMEU began on Monday in opposition to the government mandate that construction workers be vaccinated as a condition of being allowed to work.

On Monday night Daniel Andrews announced he was shutting down the construction industry (which had been operating at a reduced capacity throughout the lockdowns) for at least two weeks without notice, which incited further protests and rallies yesterday and today.

As I write this, the riot squat of Victoria Police are undergoing a counter-terrorism operation against the workers who have gathered in the CBD today, including the use of armoured vehicles and thousands of heavily armed police.

Union leaders and members of the Labor party have sought to distance themselves from the workers, asserting that most of the protestors are not from the construction union. For example, the Victorian secretary of the CFMMEU John Setka called the workers who pay his salary “drunken fascist un-Australian morons.”

But an important article in The Age yesterday by Chip Le Grand presents a different perspective. Le Grand noted that “despite the union movement’s determination to distance itself from the protestors, the majority marching on Tuesday appeared to be the people industrial unions used to represent; young, working-class men who, in at least some cases, have suddenly found themselves tossed out of work.”

“not a single Labor MP or union leader has come out in support of the Melbourne workers…seeing themselves more as ruling class than working class.”

One Nation party Leader in the NSW Legislative Council – Mark Latham

It is precisely this demographic who have been the most affected by job losses caused by lockdowns. Recent research by the Institute of Public Affairs estimated that in just the two months of March and April last year, approximately 1.62 million Australians, which is about 13 per cent of the Australian workforce, lost their jobs or were stood down because of lockdowns.

By applying the methodology used in three leading international studies, the IPA estimated that those Australians who lost their job or were stood down suffered a 14-month permanent reduction to their life expectancy, on average.

Importantly, those aged 25-40 experience the greatest reduction to life expectancy, of around 20 months – this is the exact demographic who have been most likely to protest the lockdowns.

Yet no one is speaking for them. Throughout Australia’s history unions have been integral to the representation of Australian workers, winning important rights around better pay and conditions. But now they are just another member of the elite, in thrall to the Labor party and more focused on collecting fees from forced superannuation contributions than defending the jobs of Australian workers.

As former Labor leader and now Leader of the One Nation party in the NSW Legislative Council Mark Latham said earlier today “not a single Labor MP or union leader has come out in support of the Melbourne workers…seeing themselves more as ruling class than working class.”

Regardless of the rights or wrongs about the particular issues which have sparked the protests, the lockdowns have revealed that Australia is a deeply divided nation.

Lockdowns have divided us by big and small business, by public or private sector workers, by the wealthy and low-income, and between young and older Australians.

What one of the protesters said yesterday sums it all up: “Now one thing I’ve got to say, as a union member, I am so sorry we didn’t stand up for all those shop keepers and all those people who have been trampled on…but let’s stand up as a nation, and don’t be tricked by the media, by the lies and the deceit.”

This weeks’ The Must Read is by Frank Furedi writing for Spiked! In a piece called 100 years of the culture war Furedi explores the origins of the culture war, and argues that it began in the late 19th Century over questions of how children should be raised and educated.

As Furedi explains “a new world needed new men. And to become truly modern, young people had to be distanced from the traditions and values of the past. Old-fashioned moral norms had to be displaced by scientifically authorised values.” This endeavour was not a left/right political issue, but one that was being promoted by the elites in the name of “science”, and “social science” in particular.

The goal has been to “raise awareness” and to “re-educate” people, which doesn’t literally mean becoming better educated, but accepting the values of the new “social engineers”.

Thank you for your support of the Australian way of life.