Abbott Should Agree with the Left – or Shut Up!

The Hon. Charlie Lynn

Peter Fitzsimons patronising call for Tony Abbott to ‘put a sock in it’ and shut up is the latest attempt by the left to appease those who seem to share a hatred of the values our forefathers established over time and our veterans fought and died to protect.

I have read Tony Abbott’s articles and speeches on the threat we face from Islamic extremism and I believe they represent a well-balanced insight into the most serious threat of our time.
The most contentious issue seems to be Abbott’s claim that our Australian culture is superior to that of Islamic State. It would be interesting to conduct a nationwide poll to see how Australians view this assertion.

All they would need to do is tick one of the boxes to see which culture they regard as superior. The one that allows freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of opportunity and equal rights regard of gender, race or creed; or one that subscribes to human terror involving the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, public beheadings, sexual slavery, rape, female genital mutilation and the superiority of Sharia law!

Australians don’t need to be reminded that hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women sacrificed their lives and their futures in defence of the freedom we enjoy today. Many find it ironic that Fitzy has pocketed more than a few million dollars telling their stories. Nobody would argue that he has not made a valuable contribution to our national wartime story. This was acknowledged by the Gillard Government who put him on the Board of the Australian War Memorial which is the official custodian of our military history.

A little over a year ago Professor Peter Leahy, a former General and one of our most informed strategic commentators warned that Australia needed to ‘prepare for an increasingly savage, 100-year war against radical Islam that will be fought on home soil as well as foreign lands’. Professor Leahy advised that Australia was ‘ill-prepared for the high cost of fighting a war that would be paid in “blood and treasure” and would require pre-emptive as well as reactive action’.

Leahy’s call is reminiscent of one of his predecessors, General Vernon Sturdee, who predicted in 1933 that Japan would pose the major threat to Australian security and that ‘the Japanese would act quickly, they would all be regulars, fully trained and equipped for the operations, and fanatics who like dying in battle, whilst our troops would consist mainly of civilians, hastily thrown together on mobilisation, with very little training, short of artillery and possibly of gun ammunition.’

This is the introductory quote in Chapter 2 of Fitzy’s in his best-selling book ‘Kokoda’.

One can only wonder if he would have told Sturdee ‘to put a sock in it’ had he been round at the time because history records that our political leaders ignored his warning.As a result thousands of Australian lives were lost because the appeasers triumphed and we were unprepared for the Japanese onslaught that began with the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941. Many were slaughtered in circumstances reminiscent of what we are witnessing in Islamic State today.

I have had the good fortune of knowing Tony Abbott prior to his election to Parliament. He is one of the most fair-minded and respectful blokes one could wish to meet. I have also shared the Kokoda pilgrimage with Fitzy and I know he is proudly committed to telling our Australian story. I have also led young Muslims, male and female, across the Kokoda Trail and shared the stories of our veterans with them. They were as proud and any other group of young Australians I have led over the past 25 years and I believe they would be just as concerned about the extremist threat posed by Islamic State in the name of Islam. I also believe they would be willing participants in any debate about why some interpretations of Islamic texts incite terrorism.

The need for the debate seems to be supported by influential Muslim leaders such as President el-Sisi of Egypt, Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia and other Islamic scholars.

If debate is stifled because leaders and scholars with an opposing view to the commentariat are told to ‘put a sock in it’ tensions will inevitably increase.

I cannot recall former Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, ever being told to ‘put a sock in it’ whenever he expressed his views – which he often did. After losing the election in 1983, his trousers in 1986, and his bid for the Liberal Party presidency in 1993 Fraser turned to the left for friendship. He soon became their darling because of his diatribes against John Howard and Tony Abbott and his support for Sarah Hanson-Young and David Hicks.

Fitzy would be better advised to suspend his campaigns to undermine our national symbols, such as our Westminster system of Government and the flag our diggers raised on the Kokoda plateau on 3 November 1942, until the threat of terrorism in our midst has subsided. He should focus instead on the symbols and values that instil pride and have encouraged waves of immigrants from around the world to become proud Australians.

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