It came as somewhat of a stunning realisation to me the other day that I’ve never actually explained to anyone why I’m in the US. I’ve never said explicitly what my plans are, and what I want to do with my life. I’ve never gone into why I uprooted and left Australia, to what end I’ve dedicated the last few years of my life.
So here goes: I want to establish Australia’s first grassroots free market advocacy organisation. Sounds simple. I wish. Read on…
I have already written about why doing this is desperately necessary, and I shall not repeat myself (but please read the link before you go on if you have not already – it really is critical to understanding the rest of this post ). Let it be enough for me to say that I feel this is so desperately necessary, that unless enacted upon, the cause of freedom in Australia will be lost. An exaggeration? Perhaps, but one I feel is justified by history.
Having thus established the necessity for such an organisation, the obvious question is: why me? Am I really so arrogant as to believe I can personally reshape the Australian political landscape? Is my ego so big that I really think I can bring about that much change?
The answer is no. I am not a prime candidate for the task. There are innumerable people more intelligent, more skilled than I am, who would do a far better job. I wish someone else would do it. Despite my wishes, this is what I am preparing myself for. The obvious question is, why?
Before I can answer that, it is necessary for me to sketch out just that which I want to do.
The core idea is simple: Create an activist grassroots free market advocacy organisation. Something to take abstract ideas, intellectual theories, and policy papers, and package them into something nice and simple that your average citizen can understand. To set up an organisation to fight in the trenches, to spread the message, to actually engage in the battle of ideas. Australia has some of the best think tanks in the world, in the CIS and IPA, but they are think tanks – they are not ground troop warriors. And that is what we need. And I want to set something up to actually be such warriors.
Essentially I want this organisation to do two tasks: take the ideas of classical liberalism and promote them to all Australian citizens, and secondly, to lobby politicians to adopt solid policy ideas. Essentially I want this to be an amalgam of Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Tax Reform. In order to do this, my plan revolves around starting up two organisations: one a research/education body (to which donations are tax-deducible) which shall be focused on education people on economics. The other shall be more aggressive, and shall lobby and do advocacy on legislation. Both shall work together to advance the common goal.
Many people don’t know this, but I actually founded such an organisation back in early 2005. It was called young&free (the name wasn’t my decision!), and it was intended to promote the ideas of classical liberalism to young people. We got it incorporated and registered and all. But for various external factors, it never got off the ground. Now I am older, wiser, and with more experience. When I start this, I will have the skills necessary.
Obviously, this means that I can no longer be an active member of the Liberal Party. From a personal perspective, this pains me greatly; after all, I have dedicated almost half of my life to serving the Party. I know the personal losses that leaving will cause. Yet is necessary. There is, after all, no way I can objectively advocate sound policy, while I have a vested interest in one political party. Oh don’t get me wrong, doubtlessly I shall continue to be a member, to try to influence people as best as I can. But I cannot – and will not – continue to waste my time with the petty childish sandpit of internal party politics, nor place myself in a position where I can no-longer critique the party from outside.
So why exactly do I want to do this. The answer is unfortunately simple: there is no-one else. I mean this by no means out of arrogance, but simply as a statement of fact. There is no-one else who wants to do this. After all, I fully recognise I need more than simply desires, I need concrete skills. So let us look at my skillset as objectively as possible.
Firstly, I think it’s rather important to note that, to some degree at least, I do actually possess a brain and the ability to use it. I don’t know how I can objectively demonstrate this, other than to point out that my UAI of 99.85 (for all the flaws the UAI contains) does place me in the top 0.15% of the population intellectually (and, correct me if I’m wrong, is the highest in the NSW YL’s for the last 10 years or so).
Academically, I have a Bachelors of Economics (Social Sciences), with a double major in Government and International Relations, with a minor in economics. I have a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), with a primary focus in jurisprudence, and the relationship between politics and law. I also have a Masters in Public Policy, again, rather relevant to the intellectual underpinnings of what I wish to achieve.
Politically, I spent two terms as President of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation. I was Vice-President (Policy) of the NSW Young Liberals from 2006-2008. I was a branch president, Sydney University Liberal Club President, a campaign manager, a candidate for local government – I really don’t think a political resume could prepare you any better for what I want to do!
From the NGO perspective, I am a member of the Board of Management of the HR Nicholls Society, Australia’s leading free labour market organisation, and am on the National Board of the Australian Libertarian Society. I have attempted to involve myself in all free-market events by the CIS, IPA and the Sydney Institute, and am an alumni of the Liberty & Society Programme. Since I started university, I have regularly attended conferences by the Lavoisier Group, the Bennelong Society, and the Samuel Griffith Society. No-one – and I mean no-one – my age has done this in the last decade.
From an employment perspective, I have worked for a Federal Senator, I have been a paralegal, I worked for the Cato Institute, and am now a Fellow at Americans for Tax Reform. Even while going through university, when I ran a call-centre, and worked as a telemarketer, why did I do this? The answer was simple – to learn effective communication skills. And I succeeded. Currently, I am partaking in the Koch Associate Program. This is a year-long program in how to best manage and run a non-profit political advocacy group. What better training could there be.
Most importantly though, I have the fortune of having won that roulette of lottery that is US citizenship, and have taken advantage of it. This, more than anything else, I cannot overstress the value of. Unless you have been here, no-one can actually understand the difference that living in the US makes. The fact that I am immersed in the core of the future of free market advocacy, means that I will have unparalleled skills necessary to be able to do this back in Australia. And these skills are impossible to pick up at home.
I have no doubt whatsoever that we need to set up a free market grassroots advocacy group in Australia. I have no doubt that this is essential if we want to prosper as a society and not tumble headfirst down the road to serfdom. I believe, therefore, that I am the person with the enthusiasm, the experience, and the skills to make this happen.
So help me. Please help me. I cannot do this on my own. I cannot raise the money necessary, I cannot come up with the business plan, I cannot create the strategy all by myself. I need your help. So please, contact me, and together, we can change Australia.
If you and I fail, if together we can not start up a genuine advocacy group, then freedom in Australia truly is doomed.
PS: Seriously, you can not actually understand this unless you read my earlier post. If you haven’t, do so now. Please.
Update: A few minor typos etc have been corrected
Update 2: To those who think this won’t work in an Australian context, all I can say is that similar arguments were raised when the Taxpayers Alliance was launched in the UK, and they have had great success recently – and they are in a cultural context rather similar to ours in many ways. In order for us to actually win the culture wars, I think we need to actively start evangalising to the masses – and the new media revolution that is only just starting in Australia will very much help us in that regard!
For instance, let’s look at the Liberals support of alcopop taxes. Horrid, horrid policy. Yet what are we (as a conservative movement) doing to put pressure on MT to tell him he can’t do this? How are we harnessing the thousands of Australians who agree with us and getting them to engage? I feel that we spend too much of our time preaching to the choir, so to speak, and not actually trying to shift public opinion. This is what I very much think it is essential for us to do – to take our ideas, and package them in such manner that the general public – the consumers – understand them and support us. We need to actively put pressure on MT so that he feels he has no other choice than to support free market principles. And that’s what I intend to do 🙂