The Unshackled was a proud sponsor of this year’s Friedman Conference held in Sydney, and we were present at the event during all three days. It was an event to celebrate and discuss liberty, along with addressing the modern-day issues threatening it. It hosted by the Australian Libertarian Society and the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. It had a stellar lineup of speakers throughout the conference but it was the third day of the event that, to me, took the spotlight.
A major highlight of the event was the session on ‘Free Speech’ that included a speech by Calum Thwaites, one of the students embroiled in the QUT 18C court-case. For years, three students were forced to unjustly endure legal proceedings simply for complaining about the Queensland University of Technology’s policy of having special Aboriginal-only computer labs. In a classic example of modern-day society responding to segregation with segregation, rather than staying true to values like equality and justice, the university provided special privileges to Aboriginal students.
Of course, Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act meant that Cindy Prior, an academic at QUT was able to file legal proceedings against the students simply because she was offended by the truth. Fortunately, Federal Court Justice John Dowsett dismissed the case because it did not have any valid relation to racial hatred. Yet the three students were subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and had to undergo years of hardship simply for saying what they thought.
The Friedman Conference provided an excellent opportunity for Calum Thwaites to elaborate upon his ordeal and show this situation for what it is: reverse racism. Anglo-Australian university students pointed out the truth in Aboriginal students receiving special privileges, and this was seen as racial hatred by an Aboriginal university employee. Society’s sudden turn towards reverse racism is what politicians like Pauline Hanson aim at tackling, a mission the Queensland Senator has embodied since her debut in Parliament over 20 years ago.
One Nation itself had a significant presence in the conference, with Senator Malcolm Roberts attending the event to reveal just how much One Nation is committed to liberty. In a seminar on future policy directions, the Senator made clear the importance of liberty and capitalism in ensuring prosperity. While Senator Roberts’ claim that Pauline Hanson is in many ways a Libertarian received critical reception, he did emphasize the One Nation founder’s commitment to upholding the freedoms and values of Australians through strict migration and racial equality.
During this session, Wolfgang Kasper, Emeritus Professor of Economics at UNSW, listed the various factors that ensured economic growth and prosperity. Based on social and political characteristics of countries that have successfully maintained high incomes including Switzerland and Australia, Professor Kasper laid emphasis on the importance of accepting migrants who are capable of integrating into the receiving country. If this is important to ensuring liberty and economic growth, then it is easy to see why One Nation is already an ideal political party despite its reputation among many Libertarians. Of course, the major aspect that may set One Nation away from libertarianism is its relation to economic nationalism.
A speech by American political journalist John Fund on the inner workings of President Donald Trump was another well-received session during the conference. While Fund was supportive of President Trump, he gave cautionary warnings echoed by many politicians and media personalities in regards to the 45th President of the United States. This included his tendency to be inconsistent and swiftly change his mind, a phenomenon that prompted Fund to say “do not focus on what he says, but focus on what he does”.
This may have come across as too far-fetched at first, but the fact that Trump was a donor to the Democratic party until as recently as 2008 legitimizes Fund’s claims. We have recently witnessed the President make decisions that did not align with his campaign rhetoric, including an indifference towards same sex marriage, the decision to bomb a Syrian air base, and his decision to renegotiate rather than abolish NAFTA. Only last week, he claimed that he was both a nationalist and a globalist, which sent shockwaves throughout the conservative and greater right-wing community.
One of the most memorable moments of the conference was a talk by Ezra Levant on alternative media. The well-acclaimed and popular founder of the Rebel Media heralded the popularity of the alternative media in a session discussing the ‘alt-media’ trend being experienced here in Australia. It is a fact that while Canadian mainstream networks only receive a viewership below 10 million, the Rebel has garnered over 25 million, which has alarmed mainstream networks with a heavy dose of cognitive dissonance. The credibility of the alternative media over the fake news mainstream media is trend sweeping Western society.
The conference officially ended with Mark Latham and Ross Cameron hosting an Outsiders-style session that many would say stole the spotlight of the entire show. With anti-Fairfax humour and generous use of swear words, the duo gave the mainstream fake news media the flatter that it deserves. Of course, the event was infiltrated by a Sydney Morning Herald journalist who revealed himself for all to see, to which Cameron responded by humorously performing a Nazi salute with the intention that the journalist will have his lucrative moment to sensationalise upon Cameron’s possible connections to Fascism. It seems Cameron’s wishes have partially come true, with Fairfax posting a triggered news story regarding this allegedly ‘far-right’ event.
It was our pleasure to be present at the annual Friedman Conference this year. This remarkable event saw supporters from all sections of the right celebrate and appreciate liberty in a time where the left still threaten our society. We wish all the speakers, especially Ross Cameron and Mark Latham, all the best in the future, and we hope to see them again next year.