Edition 1SUN 23 FEB 1997, Page 126
Meddling in morals/But 'irrational' senator not forcing PM's hand
By BY RICHARD FARMER
The Tasmanian senator is not forcing John Howard to make decisions which are against the Prime Minister's better judgment.
Australia is now run by a very conservative man who needs no encouragement at all to impose his moral values on the rest of us.
There is a startling inconsistency in Mr Howard's intellectual position.
When it comes to economic life, he embraces the virtues of a free market in which individuals should be able to make rational decisions which they see as being to their benefit.
In that respect, Adam Smith would be proud of him.
But when it comes to the actions of individuals in their personal lives, Mr Howard abandons any pretence of libertarianism.
It's quite all right for the State, which should keep out of matters economic, to meddle in the area of personal morality.
Old Adam would be appalled by that!
With Senator Harradine, there is at least an honesty about his Christian views that lets him see a role for government in imposing its values on both personal and economic aspects of life.
Unlike the Prime Minister, he is not rational about one aspect and irrational about the other, but simply irrational about both.
Having the vital vote in a deadlocked Senate quite obviously puts Senator Harradine in a position where his irrational views have to be listened to.
Perhaps that gives those liberals still in the Liberal Party an excuse for staying there.
They can pretend to themselves that it's pragmatic politics, not a real power shift, that is responsible for things like the blackballing of a professor who once suggested that drugs might be a better way of causing abortions than the surgeon's knife.
In truth, of course, there has been a power shift, and the Cabinet veto on Professor John Funder as head of the National Health and Medical Research Council is but the latest example of it.
Prime Minister Howard heads a party in which the strongest faction is the Christian fundamentalists of the Lyons Forum, of which he is a member.
They are the group behind the attack on legal euthanasia already before Parliament and on the attack on the Medicare funding of legal abortions, which is to come.