This week a group of Coalition backbenches formed a pro-coal advocacy group which published a letter lobbying the Turnbull Government to invest $4 billion to build a new coal fired power station on the site of the decommissioned Hazlewood power station in Victoria. The group founded by Kevin Andrews and supported by Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and Barnaby Joyce was named the Monash Forum in honour of civil engineer and World War One military commander Sir John Monash who as chairman and manager of State Electricity Commission of Victoria established the Yallourn Power Station and opened up the state’s brown-coal fields.
But because the Monash Forum is a conservative group the MPs have been accused of hijacking the Monash name, one of Australia’s greatest citizens for which many landmarks and organisations are named after, to further a political agenda.
This accusation has come from some descendants of Sir John Monash who have published a letter demanding the group rename itself “We dissociate ourselves specifically from the Forum’s use of the Monash name for their anti-science and anti-intellectual argument, to give that an air of authority. And we are asking that they withdraw the name” and claiming that while Monash was “no left-wing radical in his personal politics” if he were alive today “he would be a proponent of the new technologies e.g. wind and solar generation, rather than revert to the horse-and-buggy era”.
Given that Sir John Monash died in 1931 these descendants from this would have no more special insight into Monash’s views that any other student of history. They do concede that “while we have no claim to legal control of the use of the name, we do assert moral rights to its use for ideological purposes”. It is clearly the case that this letter is more about these descendants using an opportunity to gain some media attention to virtue signal their own left wing views.
It is interesting to note that these descendants have never objected to anything else being named in Sir John Monash’s honour. But while the Monash Freeway and the City of Monash are institutions that are not partisan, the same cannot be said of Monash University which is also named in his honour. Monash University has recently launched its new advertising campaign called #changeit which blatantly promotes left wing activism and has also featured videos with students who want to destroy capitalism.
Surely this campaign from Monash University is using the Monash name to promote a particular political ideology, yet I have seen no such objections from the Monash family, despite their assertion that Monash was “no left-wing radical” and that his name should be above politics. We can only conclude that these members of the Monash family are only upset when conservatives choose to honour Monash.
If people want to refute the views of Monash Forum they should stick to energy policy, rather than getting some members of the Monash family to publicly say how offended they are. Once again it is the left resorting to politics of outrage, rather than substance, and of course one rule for the right and one for the left.