I’ve been saving the Australian Defence Veterans’ Party for last, because they’ve had a note up on their website all week promising that they would release their full policy document today. Alas, as of 9:20pm this evening, they haven’t done so, and since I really need to spend tomorrow packing for my trip (which, aargh, I have not yet started doing!), I’m going to have to piece together what I can from the information currently available, both on their site and on their Facebook page. So please do bear in mind that this particular commentary will be less thorough than some of the others, and if this party sounds like your cup of tea, I’d encourage you to revisit their website closer to the election date.
The ADVP tells us on their front page that they are:
Protecting Australian values and the Australian way of life. In the Spirit of True Mateship.
Alas for my frivolous soul, I now have this song from Keating! The Musical on endless repeat in my brain. This is not helping…
Scrolling down a bit, we learn that their vision is:
To represent all Australians, with a special focus on the ageing community and those who have served their community or country within Australia and abroad.
Our values are Australian to the core, and include trust, loyalty, integrity, respect and mateship. Quite simply, we believe that should treat everyone as you would treat one of your mates.
We’re here for Australia’s protectors and defenders, for Australia’s farmers and teachers, for emergency responders, Defence members and police. We’re here for all Australians.
(on the matey matey matey matey mate-ship!)
I’m sorry. I know it probably makes me un-Australian, but I do wish we could retire the word ‘mateship’.
Their constitution tells me that they want to ‘uphold loyalty to the nation and to follow the Westminster system of government and the Australian Constitution’. Drat, I really hate speculating on so little information, but that reads to me like they are pro-Queen and anti-republic. And while this is drawing an even longer bow, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were a little suspicious of immigrants (it’s the ‘uphold loyalty to the nation’ bit).
They also want to provide ‘an honest and accountable alternative political option for the Australian people’, but also to hold whoever forms government accountable to honour their pre-election promises. I am in favour of this.
And, once again, they particularly mention a focus on providing a voice for ‘defence veterans, emergency service veterans, corrective service veterans, their families and, by extension, the wider community’.
Not a lot else to be gleaned from the constitution. In their ‘About Us’ section, they also mention supporting teachers and farmers, and wanting to speak out about the physical and mental trauma suffered by many. Good on them.
They plan to have policies across education, health, taxation, immigration, national security, and ‘a broad spectrum of other matters of importance to Australians’, so once again, they are positioning themselves as a true third party, not a single-issue micro-party. And there’s a nice line about their approach:
Our approach will be collaborative, constructive and effective. We do not intend to engage in political point scoring and time wasting.
I hear you, guys. I’ve watched Question Time, too.
Their policy summary is brief, and thus so is my commentary. They want a special insurance scheme for first responders, which sounds excellent. They are cautiously in favour of Euthanasia, and want to improve conditions in Aged Care. They want better aviation services in the regional areas, and better mental health services everywhere. They want to fix problems in the Department of Veterans Affairs (from comments I’ve seen elsewhere, they seem to feel that the people working at the DFA are doing their best, but the policies are a problem). They want Australia to maintain a merchant Navy.
There is a policy on Border Protection, but all they are saying about it is that it ‘saves money and redeploys funds to where they are needed. This policy will differ to that offered by the Government, the Opposition and The Greens’. The fact that they are calling it Border Protection rather than a Refugee policy tends to suggest that it will err on the side of strictness, but again, it’s really not possible to speculate from what I have here.
They also intend to ‘address numerous social and economic issues that are crippling some [indigenous] communities and we will… ensure better equality and a vision for cost savings in the future’. This sounds well-intentioned, but could mean just about anything in practice.
Since this doesn’t give us a huge amount to go on, it’s time to see what else the internet can tell us! I did a bit of Googling of Ron Evans (who is the President of the ADVP), and found his Twitter stream, which tells me that the ADVP stands for tolerance, respect and inclusion, that they support penalty rates, that they are against fracking, against removing bulk billing for Pap smears, and that they are support marriage equality (in fact, their candidate for Brisbane is Bridget Clinch, a transgender woman and former army captain – this article, despite the title, seems to be quite an intelligent and sympathetic look at her story).
I have to say, the ADVP is swerving far closer to the left – especially on gender issues! – than I was expecting from a party that was so big on mateship and the military, so kudos to the ADVP for subverting my expectations.
This is still handwaving, but I get the impression that the ADVP really does believe in what I am positive they would call a fair go for the little guys. They want to look after low income workers (with penalty rates), women (pap smears) indigenous Australians and LGBTI folk (marriage equality, and generally putting their money where their mouth is in Brisbane). And veterans and first responders, of course! They do seem to be fairly keen on keeping costs down, and I’d love to know what they think about things like foreign policy and refugees, but I have to say, I’m liking this lot far more than I expected to.
The devil is in the details, though, and I do wish I see their full policies in order to find out how they plan to go about achieving their aims. But they look like very decent people, which is a fine start, and I find their principles of tolerance, respect and inclusion heartening.