Written by Kathy Clubb
The Victorian Liberal party has threatened a pro-life politician with losing preselection because of his social media comments in support of life. Bernie Finn, who has held the seat of Western Metropolitan for sixteen years, is well-known for his dedication to life. Last week, his comments regarding the possibility of Roe vs Wade being struck down by the United States Supreme Court drew the ire of Liberal Leader, Matthew Guy and the controversy culminated in Mr Finn resigning from his parliamentary position as Opposition Whip.
According to The Age, Liberal leader Matthew Guy told Mr Finn that he is not “part of the team” because of his outspoken condemnation of abortion. Mr Finn had written that he was praying for abortion to be banned and shared an image saying “civilised societies don’t kill their young”. Commenting under his Facebook post, Mr Finn added that the image of a smiling baby was described by one news outlet as “confronting.”
Mr Guy told The Age that his party was “absolutely sick” of Mr Finn’s pro-life social media posts, with other Liberal members suggesting that he may be expelled from the parliamentary party. He said:
“If Bernie wants to stay as a member of the parliamentary Liberal Party, preselections open in a couple of weeks, and Bernie needs to work out if he wants to be on the team as part of a parliamentary Liberal Party. We all work with each other to try and do the best for the Liberal Party members in this state and for Victorians to have an alternative government. If someone can’t keep within those rules and wants to act as an independent, then you should go and ask him if he wants to do that.”
Disturbingly, The Age took the opportunity to bolster support for a dangerous narrative that has emerged in recent years: that members of the pro-life community are linked with terrorism or in some other way pose a threat to democracy. The caption under an image of Mr Finn addressing a protest against vaccine mandates referred to Freedom protesters as “anti-government”, suggesting that they are subversive or anti-democratic.
Mr Finn founded Melbourne’s March for the Babies after abortion was legalised in Victoria in 2008 and has consistently defended life on and off the floor of parliament. Rejecting the idea that his views were based on his Catholicism, Mr Finn posted to social media that his “stand in support of protecting children before birth” is instead “firmly steeped in the medical science that shows us babies in the womb are very much living human beings.” Mr Finn then wrote that he was “following the science!”
In the past, Matthew Guy voted against abortion and other anti-life laws and had publicly identified himself as being “pro-life.” His latest comments have shocked many and it seems that Mr Guy has left behind the core Liberal values of freedom and family to embrace the woke social engineering of the Left.
Last year this became obvious when the Liberals voted in favour of the Labor government’s Conversion Therapy bill. In one fell swoop, the Liberals voted against the freedoms of speech, of religion, and of assembly, to vote in favour of disrupting the relationships between pastors and their people and between doctors and their patients. The bill even went so far as to come between parents and their children. When the legislation was voted on in parliament, Mr Finn crossed the floor – the only time he had done so in his career.
The LIberal Party is clearly out of touch with the views of a large part of its support base, since Liberal voters are historically more likely than those who vote Labor or Green to have a pro-life stance. A poll from 2019, while admittedly small, showed that less than half of the Liberal voters who were questioned supported abortion on demand, with 20% saying that abortion should be restricted to cases of rape and incest. While that position is not acceptable to those working to end abortion – Mr Finn has been vocal about his rejection of rape and incest exceptions – it does indicate that voters who identify as relatively conservative tend to be less likely to accept open-slather abortion.
Not only political views but also economic status is tied to an abhorrence of abortion. The pro-life position is far more common among lower socio-economic classes, who tend to value traditional family life more than the wealthier and better educated elite. Mr Finn’s sometimes rough and ready stance appeals to these more genuine conservatives – the hardworking tradies, the small family businessmen and the immigrants from morally traditional cultures who form the bulk of his electorate – this is reflected in his enduring popularity in the Western Metropolitan district.
The Liberal’s shift to the Left has not gone unnoticed as the state gears up for elections later this year. Quadrant Online observed that the Liberal Party should be learning a lesson from Mr Finn’s success instead of pandering to the same inner-cities electorates as Labor and the Greens:
That Finn has commanded the loyalty of locals in election after election might convey to an astute mind that here is to be found the future of the Liberal Party — the suburbs of John Howard’s “battlers” rather than the comfortably secure residents of climate a’feared, green-tinted precincts who fret about Gaia’s miseries rather than interest rates, violent crime and trusting their kids to a state education system where boys can be girls and penis-tucking is an advanced elective.
The Liberals seem to have learned nothing from the criticism the party drew last year, at the height of tensions in the state over Daniel Andrews’ extreme COVID restrictions. Party spokesmen failed to condemn the Andrews government overreach, particularly the incidents of police aggression aimed at protesters. When Mr Finn was critical of the police brutality he was censured by the Party. In a show of the trust enjoyed by Mr Finn by hardworking Victorians, he explained that serving police officers had contacted him “ deeply distressed about the direction the Andrews government and chief commissioner have taken Victoria Police.
The incident has instead brought the Liberals’ reputation as “Labor-lite” clearly into focus by showing up its opportunistic fake pro-life strategy: the party is willing to retain the services of its pro-life parliamentarians as long as their opinions on life remain “private” and when it is not politically expedient, those views are to be kept out of the public square.
There is one more thing that the Liberals need to learn from this episode – something that is a reason for hope among the pro-life community. It has become increasingly noticeable among leaders and members of the loose coalition of groups and individuals known collectively as “the Freedom movement” that they share grave concerns about abortion on demand. A strong pro-life message has begun to emerge within this group, possibly spearheaded by pro-lifers who exposed the link between the experimental COVID vaccinations and aborted fetal tissue.
This pro-life current is gaining momentum, perhaps because there are many Christians among those opposed to lockdowns and vaccine mandates or because the Australian Freedom movement is heavily influenced by the more pro-life American one. Perhaps people have had to look long and hard at what it is that makes us truly “free,” or perhaps there are other factors at play.
Whatever the cause of this phenomenon, “freedom” is not a word to toss around lightly unless the humanity of the babies condemned to abortion is acknowledged. Bernie Finn knows this and is to be commended for his consistent defence of life, and for his tenacity in defying the culture of death. As the Liberal Party inches its way towards irrelevance, Matthew Guy would do well to realise that the path he has chosen leads only to political and moral oblivion.