First John Roskam in the AFR:
Deep shock is a better description of how many people felt.
Three key conclusions can be drawn from what the Prime Minister said.
The first is that freedom of speech was something he was willing to sacrifice so ethnic community groups would support the government’s counter-terrorism laws. (Within hours this negotiating strategy was proved to be flawed as ethnic community leaders came out and rejected the government’s proposals.)
The second conclusion was that not only was the Prime Minister willing to negotiate on freedom of speech; he felt he had to seek the permission of ethnic community groups for his counter-terrorism legislation.
The third conclusion is perhaps the most significant. The Prime Minister said he believed repealing section 18C was a threat to “preserving national unity on the essentials”.
In essence, what he admitted was his belief that “national unity” in Australia in 2014 is no longer the product of common and shared values across the community – instead “national unity” can now only be enforced by the government and its laws.
Second David Kemp in The Australian:
Today a journalist’s articles are still banned, and the Liberal Party government accepts that. This is unacceptable to many Liberals.
Jim Allen writing in The Spectator:
As it is, you can’t help feeling that Tony Abbott is morphing into an Antipodean David Cameron. You know the plot. A right-of-centre Prime Minister gets elected and starts moving to the left. He sells out his core voters to try to win some support from the centre left. He reckons that his core vote has nowhere to go. When push comes to shove it will support him.
Yet it hasn’t worked out that way for Mr. Cameron in Britain. He was so dismissive of his core voters early on he even started insulting some of them. Party membership has tanked. And then the totally unexpected happened and a party to his right, the United Kingdom Independence Party started polling well into double figures. It even came first in the European elections.
Now Herr Cameron is trying desperately to re-establish his right wing credentials. No one believes him. If the Tories lose the next election, it will be directly due to this miscalculation – that by hanging your core vote out to dry and catering to the bien pensant inner city sensibilities you can up your vote.
Hard words from each of them.