The Australian Democrats were once the influential third force in Australian Politics. Holding the balance of power and a mantra to ‘keep the bastards honest,‘ the Democrats stood in the centre of politics, not just as the group between Liberal and Labor, but also in policy.
Once upon a time, I believed in the Australian Democrats strongly enough to join them. To the point where I even stepped up to the role of Tasmanian Division president in order to attempt to see the party restored to at least something of its former glory. In today’s climate, why wouldn’t you? In general the public is disillusioned with both the Liberal and Labor parties, and the best option that we’ve got for a third alternative right now are the Australian Greens.
Where did the centre go? We lost a central, mediating figure back when the Australian Democrats were ousted. The Australian Greens are not a ‘balance of power’ party, they are a bought party. Their interests aren’t about honesty and integrity, but rather about getting what they can get by selling their vote to the party most willing to compromise for power – which has, of course, been the ALP.
Australia needs a genuine central party to return to parliament to provide real balance, and until recently I believed that should once again be the Australian Democrats. However, with a group inside the Democrats now attempting to seize control of the party brand for its own gains, I guess we need to keep looking.
A while back I posted an article that I then chose to remove out of respect for several people – people on both sides of the chasm that’s been created by all of this. In spite of what some people would like to suggest, I am not on one side or the other specifically of this divide. I hoped, really hoped that I could see the Australian Democrats work through the issues and come back strong enough to actually make a showing at the upcoming Federal Election. I hoped for too much.
The latest event in a string of attacks by one group of National Executive members has been to ‘expel’ Sandra Kanck from the Australian Democrats because she is also the president of Sustainable Population Australia – a political lobby group that the ‘National Executive’ decided they would define as a political party. By calling SPA a political party instead of a lobby group, they decided they could then demand that she resign from one party or the other. Ms Kanck responded to the initial letter demanding she choose one or the other with a number of questions, all of which went unanswered. Instead, ahead went the firing squad.
This all comes after the same group have decided to suspend previous President Darren Churchill and Secretary Roger Howe. Of course, Ms Kanck, Mr Churchill and Mr Howe all say no, they’re not out. They’re still in and still working.
What was the response? At a state level South Australian Democrats meeting, I am led to believe that the membership instead chose to expel Dr Michael Pilling and Alex Bond, two members of the core group on the opposite side of the divide. I’m also led to believe that those two members refuse to accept their expulsion.
This is how it’s been now for six months or more. There are two distinct sides, neither of which are willing to compromise, both of which claim that they’re the legitimate rulers both of which refuse to accept any validity to anything done by the other side. At least the Labor Caucus with its factions is able to function as a party at the top level. These people involved with the Australian Democrats are all as stubborn as each other, and insist on acting like a bunch of five-year-olds in the playground insisting that the best toy belongs to them.
Mind you. Perhaps that means they’d fit perfectly back into our current government…
Farewell to the Australian Democrats. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s over. Now you just need to realize that for yourselves.
I’ve been surprisingly quiet in the past few weeks on political topics, part of that has been because I’ve been working on the Bible Challenge series of blogs, but also, I go back to my article in the lead up to the state election entitled “Tired Politics”.
In the words of the great Jon Bon Jovi: It’s all the same, only the names have changed.
A few thoughts, though, as we come to a close in the campaign and actually enter the polls tomorrow.
First: Are Labor ever going to realise that they’re actually in government, not opposition? For the past three years, I’ve watched as they continue to attack the Liberal party as if they are still in opposition. They’ve spent more effort attacking the guys who aren’t even in government, than they have in governing the country. This election campaign has been no different, they’ve relied on the same tired lines as they carried before, they’ve relied on attacks more than promotion of policy, and they’ve, frankly, bored me.
No, Liberal’s not any better. In fact I think if I heard the stats right from the Gruen Nation this week, Liberal have actually done even less policy promotion than Labor. It’s ridiculous.
Tell me what you’re going to do FOR me, and the country – I can make up my own mind as to whether the other side are a bunch of idiots, traitors, dinosaurs or out of touch. Give me a reason to believe in you, not just a reason not to believe in the other guys.
I used to love politics, and part of me still does – what I’m well and truly over, are the two major parties playing the same old games year in and year out.
All politicians are going to be the same, to an extent, I don’t doubt that at all. What I think Australia needs to do, though, is awaken to the other parties that are around. Today, I’d be ready to give my vote to the Australian Sex Party in a higher preference than either Liberal or Labor.
Tony Abbott might be a conservative, out of touch dinosaur – but on a party level, sorry, that’s both Liberal and Labor. Neither of them give a damn about the people any more, it’s all about the votes and the power. It’s high time that we actually saw some people in our Parliaments – both at a state and federal level – who want to bring politics back to the people.
It’s a hard road, but I believe that it is possible to restore faith in our politicians.
What we need, though, is new blood – both on an individual and party level. We’re not ready to actually get rid of the big two just yet, but it is time we gave them a bit of a scare and showed that the people of Australia aren’t idiots either, and the people of Australia are ready to see real change, real action, real people – and a real fair go.
I’ll be striking my vote tomorrow to see a fair go, to see reason and fairness returned to Australian Parliament – because (I’m going to get shot for saying this) Australia deserves better!
If Australians were from many other nationalities in the world, we’d probably have had at least one revolution/civil action of some sort in the past ten to fifteen years. But we’re not, we’re decidedly apathetic, which means that politicians can pretty much get away with whatever they want.
Australians seem to either be apathetic, or jaded. “It doesn’t involve me, so why should I care?” or “Well, they’re all going to screw us over anyway, so there’s really no point fighting it.”
Which is how Labor manages to get elected with no real policies. They just play populist campaigning, and continue to cash in on lines that were exhausted last campaign.
“They’ll bring back workchoices!”
“Remember the children overboard?”
“Tony Abbott’s a chauvenist.”
– No, he’s conservative, catholic, and traditional. Are those good values for the 21st century? Not completely, but that doesn’t mean everything he says is automatically discarded.
And one thing Australians should have learned from Julia “Et tu, Brute” Gillard, and the assassination of Kevin Rudd, is that we vote for a party, not a Prime Minister. They should be looking at the parties as a whole, and seeing what they stand for.
I’m not writing this to suggest anyone should vote for any particular party. What I’m saying is that people need to remember that it’s a party we’re voting for on Election Day, not an individual person. This isn’t the USA, we don’t vote for our President, we vote for the party to lead the country as a government.
So instead of being cynical, apathetic, or just making August 21 another popularity contest, the only thing that I have to say in the upcoming election, is look at what the parties stand for – all of the parties, not just Liberal and Labor.
Because believe it or not, our voice does count. Tasmania learned that in March this year, when the Greens suddenly shot into prominence, and neither Labor or Liberal could try and sweep them under the carpet any more. There are more options out there, and when we start paying attention to that, well that could be a very interesting day in Australian politics.