Last weekend I attended a dinner where I caught up with a group of people united by our desire to foster conservative values.
It was a fun night and as stories were shared I was reminded of just how the smallest of seeds can develop into mighty trees.
Almost a decade ago, I started a not-for-profit foundation with the goal to help develop leadership skills in young Australians.
The Conservative Leadership Foundation (CLF) began with precious few dollars, a lot of enthusiasm and a commitment to making a difference.
Run entirely by volunteers, we introduced conservative ideas and materials to a generation starved of this proven wisdom. Conservative Clubs were established on university campuses with functions hosted nationally featuring some outstanding speakers.
Over time we connected with some like-minded international groups which gladly shared their knowledge and experience, whilst also providing some important contacts here in Australia.
Some of those contacts gave freely of their time and money in support of the Foundation, enabling it to deliver even more programs, experiences and training for thousands of young men and women.
This, in turn, attracted more support enabling us to do even more.
Our students were provided scholarships to attend international events covering human rights, media training, not-for-profit fundraising, documentary production and other important issues.
We financed and supported the establishment of other conservative organisations, published books and co-produced a series of documentaries.
There was even a national essay competition that attracted thousands of entries every year.
It was truly a labour of love and our alumni now feature prominently in Federal and State parliaments, as organisational and community leaders, as artists, film makers and authors.
However, no matter how much we did, we knew there was always so much more that needed to be done.
We heard story after story from students about how they became targets of the left in universities, through social media and in job applications simply for being part of the CLF or identifying as conservative.
I was particularly alarmed when one school student who had entered (and won) a prize in our essay competition was banned from accepting the cash prize by his parents!
It indicated to me that no matter how effective we were in supporting leadership and thought development, we actually needed to change the prevailing culture too.
I am sure that this experience with the CLF was integral in my decision to start the Conservative Party.
It was clear that maximum pressure to support conservative ideas and values needed to be applied from both inside and outside of the political system.
The best way to do that is through the ballot box to get good people elected to parliament under a truly conservative banner.
I was taken on this trip down memory lane because the son of one of the original supporters of the Conservative Leadership Foundation was at last weekend’s dinner.
The regular contributions they provided all those years ago was a lifeline for the CLF at the time. It provided the financial seed that built an enduring institution that has influenced tens of thousands of lives.
My focus is now on building the Conservative Party into an enduring institution that will help influence millions of lives through the political process.
Thanks to your support we are well on the way to making that vision a reality too.
Things that make you go Hmm…
Mum says coward punchers and footy don’t mix, Portland police agree as country footy clubs say they’re in the dark. There’s unhappy vegemites over this ad, no boarding for these country Queensland kids and fans aren’t tickled pink with this late no-show. This NSW case gets stale then goes off, cricket’s chief says its just not cricket any more, Batwoman crosses the Ruby-con as young Greens resign in disgust..
Denmark fines its first niqab wearer as BoJo compares them with letter-boxes. Behold another pearl of Hollywood wisdom, excuse this brief filler, Glaswegians gag at roadside gouging but it’s a tax-free spree in Florida. Freemasons welcome women – with a catch- but this Tokyo medical school is less receptive. The Guardian plays to its base, Brits can now tuck into a genderbread man, and does this Tory needs to mind his small business?