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How a successful grassroots rebellion against the party leadership prompted the founding of Australia's equivalent of ConservativeHome

Picture 9 Chris Browne and Tim Andrews are the co-founders of the new Australian blog Menzies House, which went live on Saturday.

The success of grassroots political blogs like ConserativeHome has significantly changed the dynamics of political campaigns and policy development around the world. By providing a strong platform for political activists to engage in the political process, they have succeeded in not only shaping political debate, but also by driving an agenda of change in influencing policy makers.

Amid a plethora of left wing websites (a number of which are taxpayer funded), Australia has not had an internet ‘home’ for the political centre-right, largely because there was a belief that 'our people have jobs and don't have time to be an online activist'. It was perceived there was no ‘demand’ for online activism.

Last year the presumption that the centre-right are not prepared to be activists was proved resoundingly false. When the then-leader of the (conservative) Liberal Party of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, became determined to support a job-destroying green tax known as the “Emissions Trading Scheme”, a grassroots party rebellion occurred. In the course of just a week, tens of thousands of grassroots party members and supporters mobilised to oppose their ‘leader’ – something previously unheard of in Australian politics. With the support of a few principled politicians, an unprecedented campaign of local activism began, leading to the eventual removal of Malcolm Turnbull as leader and his replacement with the anti-ETS Tony Abbott.

It became clear that there was a large group of centre-right people who were interested enough in politics and policy to make a difference. They just needed an organised outlet.

A small group of activists approached Senator Cory Bernardi, one of the leaders in the grassroots anti-ETS mobilisation and one of the few blogging politicians in Australia, with an idea to develop just such a site – a forum for mainstream centre-right thinkers and activists. Senator Bernardi supplied some initial funding and was born.

Run entirely by grassroots volunteers, under the the control of an independent Editorial Board, has the opportunity to make a real difference in Australian politics.

Its name reflects the intention of Liberal Party founder Sir Robert Menzies' ideals of having a united 'broad church' to oppose Labor and the tyranny of collectivism in all its forms. Indeed, Menzies House shall not be simply a mouthpiece for one particular ideological viewpoint of what the ‘right’ is. Rather, contributors include conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals, and political moderates, all united in their general belief in small government, individual freedoms, and the free market. It seeks to provide news and analysis, commentary and debate. Most importantly, it seeks to provide a unified place for the broad right coalition to gather online.

By engaging directly with the millions of Australians who identify as centre-right, but until now had no outlet to engage in the political process, we believe that Menzies House will make a big difference.


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