Liberalism is actually about preventing the government from interfering with personal freedom.
There are two major camps of liberalism in Australia: welfare liberals (or neoliberals), who are similar to social democrats, and market liberals, who think welfare, state education etc. is a bad thing.
Not really relevant, but:
Some recent Australian public policy debates came to mind when encountering Judt’s thesis:
- The need and disputed measures required to address climate change (Outcome: Economic cost and efficiency must naturally take priority over what is good and right for the environment now and in the long-term. A good economy is what keeps society thriving.)
- The introduction of a Paid Parental Leave Scheme, the level of financial support a government should provide and where the money should come from. (Outcome: Providing equal opportunity for individuals to participate and succeed in all aspects of life, including both work and family, through comprehensive paid parental leave? A utopian myth.)
- The often avoided question of an undervalued tertiary sector (Outcome: Technological innovation? We’re proud when innovation does eventuate but we’re doing enough and Australia doesn’t traditionally support intellectual elitism.)
- The allocation of public health care funding and the particular areas that should be prioritised (Outcome: So what about mental health?) and
- The question of significant public investment in vital infrastructure like the National Broadband Network versus the alternative – a minimally regulated public-private sector collaboration (Outcome: If the NBN is built solidly and cohesively by the government using public finances this will lead to definite increases in work productivity. This is good for the economy and that is why it must go ahead.)