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The ‘Unenlightened’ Victorian Liberal Party

“Apparently, if you think that men and women are not fully interchangeable, that marriage is not open to any combination, and that killing babies in the womb is just plainly wrong, you will have no future in the Liberal Party of Victoria.”


By Gabriël Moens AM and Augusto Zimmermann

The study of history reveals that the period in Europe from around 600 to 1500 AD is known as the ‘Dark Ages’. The person credited with this designation is the Italian poet Francesco Petrarca (aka Petrarch) who, however, was complaining about the appalling lack of quality of literature in his own time in Italy. Nevertheless, the “term persisted and historians started using ‘dark’ as a pejorative term to mean a period of superstition and stagnation in art, literature, and science.”

Yet, the understanding that the Middle Ages was a period of stagnation and ignorance is a total fabrication. In fact, writes sociology professor Rodney Stark, “it was during the ‘Dark Ages’ that Europe took the great technological and intellectual leap forward that put it ahead of the rest of the world”.[1] There were many scientific advances and accomplishments during that period, including, for example, the establishment of universities in Europe, and the invention of the printing press.  But the reference to the ‘Dark Ages’ persisted, and so did the “misconception that this was a period full of unenlightened people wandering around the dark.”[2]

These historical ruminations came to our mind when reflecting on the chaos and imbroglio that the Liberal Party of Victoria, in Australia, created for itself by persecuting one of their most formidable members of parliament. The appalling persecution of Moira Deeming is one the darkest chapters in the history of this once great Party. The Victorian Liberal Party is basically experiencing its own ‘Dark Ages’.

By now, the facts of the Deeming saga are well-publicised. She attended a ‘Let Women Speak Group’ rally in Melbourne on March 18. This group, led by women’s rights campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull (Posie Parker), objects to trans-women participating in female sporting events; it decries gender activism in schools; and it protests against accommodating trans-women in female prisons – a practice that, according to the group, might facilitate rape – and using women-only facilities.

However, a group of neo-Nazis gate-crashed their women’s rights rally and proceeded to perform the Nazi salute in front of the Victorian Parliament. For having merely attended the rally, Deeming was then vilified by some members of her own party as a “Nazi symphatiser”, which left her with no other choice than to take legal action against the leader of her own party, John Pesutto, in an attempt to clear all the false accusations against her.[3] Served last Thursday by renowned defamation lawyer Patrick George, the defamation notice alleges that the Victorian Liberal leader falsely labelled Deeming of being a “Nazi sympathiser” to justify his attempt to have her expelled from the party.[4]

So let’s be crystal clear on the facts: A group of women legally gathered to speak out for women’s rights in Australia. That gathering was crashed by a group of Neo-Nazi males and the state Liberal leader (and the Victorian Premier) refused to listen to that group of women. Instead, they insisted that the Neo-Nazi males who crashed the rally represent and speak for those women. Moira Deeming, a first-term MP, who was verbally and physically attacked at the rally on the steps of Parliament House, was held responsible for the actions of those Neo-Nazi men.[5]   

The Victorian Liberal leader then moved a motion to expel Deeming from the parliamentary Liberal Party for attending the event. The motion was unsuccessful because Deeming gave an impassioned speech, indicating her total abhorrence of Nazi practices – she was raised by a Holocaust survivor and was given a suspension of nine months.[6] And then, on Friday, May 12, Deeming was finally expelled from the Parliamentary Liberal Party, with Victorian Liberal MPs voting 19 to 11 to expel her during a two-hour party room meeting. Although she will remain a member of the broader party, Pesutto says even this is currently under review. “My understanding is the administrative wing of the party is considering the matter”, he said.[7]

It is completely mind-boggling how it is possible for anyone to think that this course of action will help the Liberal Party to win any election in the future. The Deeming imbroglio will haunt this party for a long time and prevent it to serve as an effective Opposition to one of the country’s worst Labor governments. The expulsion will undoubtedly be a constant reminder that the Victorian Liberals are unwilling to stand by their party’s principles, and effectively assisting, even condoning, the Labor Party’s creation of a social engineering nirvana. In a recent opinion piece, Professor James Allan summarises the alarming state of the Victorian Liberal Party well:

“If Pesutto and the bulk of the party room cannot see that they are on the wrong side of this dispute – in free speech terms, in terms of travelling down the ‘guilt by association’ road, in preferencing the transgender activists over women, by responding almost immediately in line with the lefty social media framing of issues … then it deserves to lose and lose badly”.[8]

Unfortunately, that is not the first time the Victorian Liberals have behaved in such an appalling manner towards one of their most competent parliamentary members. On May 24, 2022, Victorian MP Bernie Finn was expelled from the Liberal Party following a motion which was triggered by a series of anti-abortion comments on social media. In addition to these comments, cited also as a reason for being expelled from the Liberal Party was a Facebook post in which he compared the Victorian Labor Premier with Hitler.

Obviously, there are numerous other notorious examples but the constraints on an opinion piece do not allow us to discuss them in detail. These grievous examples would horrify Sir Robert Menzies, Australia’s longest-serving prime minister and the founder of the Liberal Party of Australia. As Menzies once declared: “To be a good Liberal, to be a good Labor man, to be a good Country Party man, you will be all the better if you are a Christian”.10

Apparently no longer, as the message would seem to be clear: If you’re conservative, or you’re a Christian, the Liberal Party doesn’t want you. The Victorian Liberal Party is almost entirely run by those who oppose Christian moral values. Bit by bit, they have taken control of every facet of the party there are very few true conservatives in the parliamentary Liberal Party in Victoria.  

Apparently, if you believe that killing babies in the womb is just plainly wrong and that men and women are not fully interchangeable, you will have no future in the Liberal Party of Victoria. As such, the only crime committed by Moira Deeming is to have participated in a rally with women who actually believe that women are women and men are men! Surely, the Victorian Branch of the Liberal Party has created, and lives in, its own ‘Dark Ages’.

Gabriël A. Moens AM is an emeritus professor of law at the University of Queensland and served as pro-vice-chancellor and dean at Murdoch University. In 2003, Moens was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal by the prime minister for services to education. He has taught extensively across Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States. He is the co-author of The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australian Annotated (9th ed, LexisNexis, 2016).

Augusto Zimmermann is professor and head of law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education, in Perth, Western Australia. He is a former commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (2012-2017). He is also a former associate dean (research) at Murdoch University, School of Law. During his time at Murdoch, Zimmermann taught (and coordinated) the units constitutional law and legal theory, and was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, in 2012. 

Professor Zimmermann and Professor Moens are the authors of Foundations of the Australian Legal System: History, Theory and Practice (LexisNexis, 2023).


[1] Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Christianity (HarperOne, 2011) 240-41

[2] Larisa Grollemond & Sarah Waldorf, ‘There’s No Such Thing as the ‘Dark Ages’’, Getty, November 15, 2022, at https://www.getty.edu/news/no-such-thing-as-the-dark-ages/

[3] Rod Lampard, ‘Deeming Labelled a ‘Terrorist’ in Second Attempt to Expel Her from the Victorian Liberal Party’, Caldron Pool, 9 May 2023, at https://caldronpool.com/deeming-labelled-a-terrorist-in-second-attempt-to-expel-her-from-the-victorian-liberal-party/

[4] Patrick Hannaford, ‘John Pesutto claims all Liberal MPs are committed to working together and Reforming the Victorian Liberals despite 11 MPs opposing Deeming expulsion’, Sky News Australia, 12 May 2023, at https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/politics/john-pesutto-claims-all-liberal-mps-are-committed-to-working-together-and-reforming-the-victorian-liberals-despite-11-mps-opposing-deeming-expulsion/news-story/00f6290df4747c728ef8d550eaf8a867

[5] Bill Muehelenberg, ‘Moira Versus the Work Goliath’, Caldron Pool, 27 March 2023, at https://caldronpool.com/moira-versus-the-woke-goliath/

[6] Gabriël Moens, ‘Expulsion or Suspension: A Distinction Without a Difference’, The Epoch Times, March 29, 2023, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/expulsion-or-suspension-a-distinction-without-a-difference_5156775.html

[7] Benita Kolovos, ‘Moira Deeming expelled from Victorian Liberal party room after threat to sue leader John Pesutto’, The Guardian, 12 May 2023, at https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/may/12/moira-deeming-expelled-from-victorian-liberal-party-room-after-threat-to-sue-leader-john-pesutto

[8] James Allan, ‘I predicted Pesutto disaster’, The Spectator, 13 Mary, 2023, at https://www.spectator.com.au/2023/05/i-predicted-pesutto-disaster

10 Robert Menzies, ‘Farewell to Dr Rayward, Sydney, March 30, 1958’, in David Furse-Roberts (ed.), Menzies in His Own Words: A Collection of Quotes (Jeparit Press, 2020) 173.

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