As the final day of CPAC Australia draws to a close, here are a few photos and takeaways from it. Thanks to my day job I could only attend the second day of the very first CPAC ever held in Australia so this is just a glimpse at the full event. If I’ve got some stuff wrong – my apologies let me know cos they’re just my impressions and memory is as memory does.
When I arrived, people seemed to be in fine spirits. The Epoch Times newspaper had set up a table outside the main conference room so I made sure I told the bloke there how much I admired its sterling efforts since 2016 to report on the Trump-Russia Collusion hoax/coup and how reporters like Jeff Carlson and others are helping to disperse the fog of fake news the MSM spreads over us every day.
The audience of what seemed to be about 500 people was talkative, relaxed and keen. I spoke to some conference goers as the day wore on who told me that Day 1 had been really good.
First up on stage, Andrew Cooper, the key Aussie CPAC organiser, introduces Nigel Farage who predictably goes off like a firecracker as he talks about stepping away after Brexit, returning to the fray this year and the extraordinarily quick results with his hastily formed Brexit Party. He also expressed some of the doubt I harbour about Boris the Unkempt. As he went, he also managed to plug the nation state and give a hat tip to the Treaty of Westphalia.
Nigel also lamented our invincible cricket team and cast shade on batsman Steve Smith, and the crowd roared amiably at potentially Britain’s next Prime Minister. At the end, the first question—the very first one of the day from the audience—was whether and when he could head out for a beer with us. Nice. 😊
After him came Dan Schneider, CPAC Host & Executive Director of ACU and US Congressman Mark Meadows who took the stage to speak on foreign policy and China amongst other things. I was super disappointed when there were no questions towards the end but as it later turned out I caught up in person with Congressman Meadows about Spygate. More on that conversation in another post later on.
Should-be Senator Jim Molan and Senator Malcom Roberts then came on to talk about low level / high-level national security perspectives; and our favourite tax and fear campaign—climate change. Jim Molan spoke of the possible ‘Finlandisation’ of Australia thanks to the Chi-coms and their startling circumnavigation of small island sovereignty in the Pacific, as well as the sobering reality of an America as maybe a 1x but certainly not a 2.5x war power today. Malcolm Roberts was on point about the AGW hoax. I hadn’t heard him speak before but I was REALLY pleased to hear him take apart Maurice Strong, the late Canadian political meddler. What a piece of work that man was.
Next up was Daisy Cousens who radiated just about the right degree of exasperation with the Lunatic Left that we in the room all no doubt feel everyday. Nothing much I hadn’t heard before from her about our bizarro culture war, but as usual there was much to agree with. (Daisy even managed to get in a quick reference to Ben Shapiro for which I was grateful!).
I was also super pleased to hear Andrew Breitbart’s name get the occasional workout as the day unfolded. ‘Politics is downstream of culture’ Andrew once said. Many, many people now understand what on earth he was talking about back then.
Later on in the day, Tanveer Ahmed commented that maybe culture was instead a riverbed along which all politics and other things flow, but I disagree. I don’t think Tanveer fully appreciates the shaping quality of culture that Breitbart was describing. In a river, the water reshapes the bed as it goes past. In Andrew’s political calculus, culture shapes politics not the other way round.
Today, the radical, ahistorical, feelz-based cultural Marxists find it impossible to accept the results of a democratic election and also ‘believe’ that speech = violence. Socialism is at best appealing, stupid and dangerous and yet it is mainstreamed every day in every way by the Australian media. The historic stability of Australian society like that of other Western societies relies heavily on the consent of the (reluctantly) governed but the Left is now apparently withdrawing its consent to democracy, and this cannot turn out well.
Daisy was followed by Steve Baxter, an Australian entrepreneur whom I’d never heard of but that means nothing. He apparently knows everything there is about poles and wires, Telstra and the NBN; and the pricey, poor performers that are (public) monopolies. He lamented high data prices, rubbish infrastructure, bad spectrum deals and the culpability of government in striking bad deals based on worse ideas. The future is the hand-held device he reckons, and also smaller land-based, point-to-point or other networks can be built by other entrepreneurs to meet regional Internet needs in Australia if government would just get out of the way AND STOP PICKING WINNERS. Quite.
Professor Sinclair Davidson followed with a disappointing talk but effective plug of blockchain. I have greatly valued reading Catallaxy over the years and owe him for maintaining a blog of great renown with a smart and witty Cat community (including Carpe’s famous ABC Q&A Interruption Lotto!) that’s why I link to it from this blog. I just think sometimes, he’s an academic flake (not unlike Boris the Bedraggled) and whatever may stand for his ‘conservative’ principles are off kilter occasionally. Otherwise there were some nice moments in his speech. I gather from what Sinc said, that Steve Kates, my favourite Catallaxy poster (largely due to his early appreciation, like mine, of candidate DJT’s rise) was also in the audience.
Speaking of the olive grove of academe (No, not academia. I don’t care what you say, look it up in a proper dictionary), I noticed this poster at ANU last week. Just like the homicidal maniac Che Guevara we still see on T-shirts, that tired old freak Marx just never goes away. I posted this because it’s apropos of what happened later on in the afternoon at CPAC. Notice the poster at the bottom from Socialist Alternative.
Just before lunch, Jikido ‘Jay’ Aeba, the rather handsome chairman of the Japanese Conservative Union and head of CPAC Japan came on and spoke through an interpreter. A lovely Japanese family also let me take their photo. They are Yuge Trump fans and were having a ball after flying all the way here to catch Jay at CPAC Australia before heading home for the third annual JCPAC.
At the start of lunch I met Elizabeth, a friendly Sydney local who told me she was attending CPAC for all three days. There had been talk of protesters outside so we went to check them out and grab some food. Down the escalator, past the police but there was no sign of anyone around. Police stood on every corner, smiled at us and were largely uninterested in us conference goers it seemed. So we missed all of the protesters except one who was being interviewed (by probably another one). It was admittedly cold and really windy outside but I assume one can keep quite warm grinding one’s axe.
I’ll update the encounter pictured here later if I can with a video of some of the interview. Anyway, we listened for a while, and I gathered that our former PM Tony Abbott wants all women to go back to the kitchen. I didn’t hear the speaker reveal her exact political (or anti-gastronomic?) cause, but she was adamant that ‘we’ (CPAC goers) were extreme right wingers and thus basically had to be stopped from whatever it was we were doing. When she finally finished I enthusiastically said Down with Socialism! to her obvious dismay, and we wandered off to grab a sandwich and a coffee.
Tanveer Ahmed came on stage as the MC after lunch. I always appreciate his intelligent, humorous and sometimes poignant or wistful take on things. He introduced Daniel Wild of the IPA (who was sponsoring CPAC Australia) and IIRC, Daniel spoke well of the five pillars of a good life. Craig Kelly MP came on and seemed a candid, funny and excellent bloke; finally former Premier of Queensland Campbell Newman along with a local Vic MP whose name I forget spoke well on drug reform.
At some point in the afternoon, the inaugural annual CPAC Australia award, The Keneally, was announced, in homage to the Streisand effect that Kristina had so kindly created thus helping make CPAC such a successful event. Later on, Renee Gorman, a uni student and Generation Liberty representative spoke with clarity about safe spaces and speech codes IN AUSTRALIA, and the radical Left’s husbandry (sic) of a culture war on our campuses. Another uni student in the audience pointed out that conservatives are also mostly nowhere to be seen around campus.
A poised and polished Peggy Grande came on stage next with some very touching stories about her time working for Ronald Reagan. I very much enjoyed listening while also noting that watching her perform was a lot like watching a show on Fox News.
Rita Panahi arrived breathless from the airport and was just as charming and intelligent as she appears in print and on telly. She revealed an interesting view, that sports media in Oz is even more woke than our news media. Go figure.
Raheem Kassam, former London-based Breitbart editor came on later for a chat and laughter all around. Some of his advice was to leave the universities to rot – they can’t be changed only defunded. I’ve followed Raheem on Youtube for a few years so I was a tad disappointed he wasn’t wearing his cravat. He clearly knew he was amongst friends though and that no duct tape was necessary.
Someone yelled out at one point in the afternoon for Don Jr to visit CPAC next year and I think Matt Schlapp said he’d see what he could do.
I cornered Matt Schlapp for a few minutes myself, and he seemed to be having a great old time. I told him I liked his president. He smiled very broadly and said he’d tell him that. I said I thought it was a dirty situation and the USA needed a cage fighter (as said of course many times by many others), he agreed and we laughed at all the TDS. I also raised NOT breaking up Big Tech (as Raheem and Andrew had so loudly demanded on stage only minutes before). What I want is Google and Facebook and the rest of the FAANGS to choose between being a platform or a publisher (and thus enjoy the legal protections and exposure that either one brings but not both) and again he seemed to agree enthusiastically.
By late afternoon Andrew, Raheem and Matt were up on stage (video pending) nicking each other’s gin and tonic. They got deep into the culture war including various phenomena (such as the emergence of antifa to name just one) happening coincidentally in our countries (in this instance, the UK, USA and Oz but of course in NZ and Canada too).
Some of the questions from the audience were great. There was much merriment. Someone yelled out about an audience member earlier copping a shower of coffee (not a milkshake this time but presumably it was a fair trade brew) from one of the protesters and how he stole their flag in response. Then the young bloke and his mate were invited up on stage to hoist the protest flag to much applause—and what do you know, it was our old regressive campus progressives, the Socialist Alternative…Surprise!
Naturally, Matt Schlapp was overcome in the presence of the flag and felt totally obliged to take a knee…LMAO! 😊
As a quick aside (and part of what I love about conservatives), when the flag left the stage and everyone had quietened down, a young woman stood up to ask a question but first gently admonished the audience about flag theft with a comment something like “Property rights, you know?” I almost felt sheepish!
I think that’s about all I have for CPAC AUSTRALIA 2019. It was a terrific day, even attending on my own. (the event also gave me a rare opportunity to stay with my brother and his daughter the night before and catch a very sweet school concert). Anyway, I met some friendly people, drank a lot of coffee and heard some pretty positive stuff. I should be back next year…
In between then and now though, there is a lot of work to do folks! 😊