This town ain’t big enough for the both of us… Looking at minor parties

For complex mathematical reasons, it’s easier for minor parties to get elected during a double dissolution.  Ordinarily, that would mean we’d be flooded with information about the minor parties and for what they stand and why you might consider voting for them.  Instead, we’ve been talking about which of the major parties is the most criminal.  It’s not particularly edifying.

I had considered putting up a Kickstarter or something to fund me to go interview key people in minor parties, to see what they’re about, and to see if they’d put up good senators.  But I am time poor and really ought to have organised myself a month earlier.

So I’m doing the suboptimal version: one by one, over the course of several posts, looking at their policies until I’ve found a party for which I’d vote.  I’m going to go through the current list of registered parties in alphabetical order.  Wish me luck.

#Sustainable Australia

A hashtag?  Seriously?  Ugh.

#Sustainable Australia is the old Sustainable Population Australia, a party that formed largely in response to Kevin Rudd’s ‘Big Australia’ policy thought bubble.  Its key focus is on limiting population growth, and it justifies this with a whole lot of science babble and appeals to Australia’s position as ‘sovereign people’.  It is difficult to escape the feeling that this party is a front for xenophobia:

As a sovereign people Australians have a democratic right to choose their population size and quality of life, and for politicians to respect this choice. To this end, a 2013 Galaxy poll of 1000 people for News Limited found that Australians are overwhelmingly against a bigger Australia, with 70 per cent hoping the population does not hit the 40 million mark projected by 2050.

It’s this uncritical attitude towards evidence that makes me uneasy.  Why is there a democratic right to choose a population size?  Did the Galaxy poll give expression to xenophobic, racist attitudes in society?  So is this a right wing or a left wing party?

Sustainable Australia rejects the old left–right political paradigm. Instead we pursue centrist, evidence-base policies.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.  And then it’s calling for a conscience vote on marriage equality rather than make it a party policy.  Something smells off.

The party opposes the foreign purchasing of Australian natural resources, wants greater investment in military technology, and to nationalise utilities.  Also, it wants to give free degrees to people studying STEM, so this party can get into the bin.

21st Century Australia Party

I love the 21st Century!  I hope this party is good…

The key issue facing the 21st Century Australia Party is representative democracy.  It hates it.  This whole voting for somebody to represent your interests in parliament malarky is so 20th Century.  We should have constant elections, with voters using ‘technology’ to vote directly on policies.  So good luck getting any unpopular but necessary policies (like the carbon tax) through parliament.

And not just that, but voters should be able to elect the Prime Minister directly…

Why is it in our proudly democratic country of Australia that voters are denied the right to vote on who ultimately becomes Prime Minister or Premier in Australian politics?

So the 21st Century is all about populism.  Don’t have structures in place that will allow parliament to make unpopular decisions, and instead create a system where politicians are constantly campaigning.  I don’t want to live in the 21st Century anymore.

This platform will also be exorbitantly expensive.  A wealthy person, company, or organisation can fund campaigns in their interest.  They’re limited in their ability to do this at the moment.  But when the population is constantly engaged in voting, it’s going to be the well resourced rent seekers who will win.

If a popular newspaper openly lies about a policy or the science behind a policy, what will correct the issue?  At least parliamentary democracy provides some kind of buffer against that.

Anyway, at least we know the key motivation behind this party: radical democracy.  Let the will of the people unfettered decide everything for themselves without decrepit power structures preven… oh, hang on:

We believe government spending in Australian politics should be removed from the hands of politicians and placed in the hands of an independent board similar to how interest rate settings are set by the independent Reserve Bank of Australia.

The crayon-munchers behind 21st Century Australia Party want a system where people vote on policies, but will need the approval of an unelected body that controls the purse strings?

Oh, wait.  It’s an elected independent body:

I strongly believe Australia must and should move to electing an Independent Board filled with the best business and finance brains, and those representative of the community to oversee and manage Government spending and to recommend and find efficiencies and cost savings in the public sector.

So let’s recap.  21st Century Australia Party wants an elected body to oversee government expenditure because it doesn’t trust parliament to do this (which is an elected body to oversee government expenditure).  We don’t vote for the Reserve Bank, after all.

On the other hand, I really like this policy:

Why do we need state and territory governments? We have eight in total with all the consequent levels of bureaucracy, to say nothing of the huge numbers of parliamentarians and their staff. They are costly and ineffective.

I honestly thought I would happily vote for whatever party promised to abolish the States.  I thank 21st Century Australia Party for showing me that I was wrong about this.

Animal Justice Party

Replace trials by jury with trials by cats?  All judges must wear fursuits?  People accused of crimes must fight a bear to prove their innocence?

Nope.  The Animal Justice Party is running on an animal rights platform:

The Animal Justice Party values the lives of all beings, human and non-human. It views animal lives as having an importance beyond the simple biophysical, and as deserving of our respect, kindness and understanding. The AJP does not see the value in animal lives as being determined by perspectives on consciousness, human utility, or the narrow quantitative determinism of much science and conservation. The AJP does not support prejudice towards animal species in matters of cruelty.

The AJP is concerned about cruelty to animals, about policies which have a negative impact upon animals, and about encouraging us all to become vegans:

The AJP acknowledges the abundant evidence of the deleterious health impact on humans of a diet which is high, or even moderately high, in animal protein. There are numerous scientific, professionally analysed and critically peer-reviewed studies that support this view.

These deleterious impacts on human health include heart disease, obesity, circulatory disease, diabetes, antibiotic resistance etc.i

It is for these reasons, along with the aforementioned inevitable positive impact on the wellbeing of animals, that the AJP supports education about, and promotion of, a diet that includes the fewest possible animal products. This is sometimes called a ‘non-violent, or cruelty-free, diet’.

I think the sheer triviality of the party makes it difficult to take much of it seriously.  When your biggest issue is whether or not kangaroos should get culled, I think you’ve proven that you don’t have any real problems in your life.  It’s no surprise that this is a party for white old people.

Australia First Party

I’m not linking to their website because I don’t link to hate groups.  It is an indictment on our political culture that this party can get registered.  It is nothing but shameful.

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Author: Mark Fletcher

Mark Fletcher is a Canberra-based blogger and policy wonk who writes about conservatism, atheism, and popular culture. Read his blog at OnlyTheSangfroid. He tweets at @ClothedVillainy

One thought on “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us… Looking at minor parties”

  1. I’m curious why the sustainability party gets binned. Because they wanted to pay science and maths teachers more? Seems sensible to me. Other policies less so, but was it all of them?

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