It’s their ABC. And our ABC. And so it should be. Russell Woolf and Verity James are Australian radio and TV personalities who are concerned that the ABC is under attack from the current government and have therefore joined forces to see if they can get it some representation in Canberra. So far, so good.
Their Group Voting ticket seems to be skewed towards all the tiny parties I’ve never heard of, making it difficult to analyse at a glance! They give their first few spots to the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, the Sports Party and the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, before funnelling their vote to Labor in the person of Louise Pratt. (My Oma always did say that the ABC were a bunch of Reds…). The Greens get next billing, for whatever good that is likely to do them, and then we get two carefully selected Liberals, David Johnston and Michaela Cash, but not the other two. Their ticket then meanders through a number of smallish, vaguely libertarian parties, though it does avoid the more loopy ones as well as all the religious ones. The bottom of their ticket is held, interestingly, by Family First, The Australian Voice and the Liberal Democrats, as well as the dodgily-named Freedom and Prosperity Party and Stop the Greens. The Socialists, incidentally, are at 50 and 51 out of 77, so my Oma wasn’t 100% right about the ABC’s coloration.
As tickets go, I’m not sure how meaningful this one is. The first few slots look like courtesy votes, with the real vote going to Labor, and anything left after that going to the Greens. It’s fairly unlikely that votes for this duo will get any further down their ticket, but I do find it interesting that they put Family First – who are right-wing Christian but moderate enough to be electable – below more obviously nasty-minded parties such as Rise Up Australia or the Liberal Democrats. This looks strategic to me – their ticket does not suggest an appreciation for any of these groups, but there is obviously a feeling that the really dodgy parties are less of a threat, even if they are repugnant. It’s a pragmatic sort of ticket, overall.
It’s a little hard to find out much about the policies espoused by Woolf and James. While they have created a Save Our ABC website, this merely provides some basic information and encourages you to sign up for a newsletter or to Facebook. In the absence of a website, I’m putting together some quotes from a few interviews and articles about them, with links to the articles in full, in case you choose to read on. I suspect that most Perth folk will know more about these candidates than I can find out anyway, if they’ve been all over your TV and radio for years…
Here’s Woolf, being interviewed at WA today: “I think Australians generally agree that the ABC is well respected, independent, necessary, effective and reliable. I’m not aligned to any party and I have opinions that sway across party lines that are generally based on what’s good for WA and West Australians, common sense and compassion.”
My first thought on reading that was that this is probably someone who swings to the left on social issues – compassion being a handy keyword here – and I am amused to note that Matt Hayden at The Real Perth agrees with me on this, though almost certainly on nothing else.
If you want to get more of a sense of Woolf as a person, there’s quite an amusing interview with him at The Worst of Perth.
There’s a bit less information about Verity James – obviously, Woolf is the first name on the ticket, and doing more of the interviews, but I liked her comment that she expects “the ABC to be under attack from all governments. It’s not doing its job if it isn’t…”. Nice.
I’m not sure how much more there is to say about this particular ticket. It does seem to be very much a single-issue party, and it’s very hard to tell how Woolf or James might vote on other matters. But, single issue or not, it’s a good issue to care about. These two might well be worth your 252.781 cents in the Western Australian election.
Or you could use that $2.53 to buy a banana. In pajamas…