I don’t have time to read all of this!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/australianlibertyalliance/
Current president: Debbie Robinson
Themes: Stopping the alleged Islamisation of Australia. Small government. Freedom of speech. Right wing, libertarian, pro-Western values, pro-guns, anti-socialism, anti-PC.
With friends like these…
The Group Voting Ticket
The ALA’s best friends appear to be the Australian Country Party, the Aussie Battlers, The Liberal Democratic Party, The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, and Transport Matters. Hinch’s Justice Party, Sustainable Australia and Hudson for Northern Victoria also get some love.
I’m still trying to work out if the Aussie Battlers have blundered into the right wing, or whether it’s intentional. It’s also worth nothing that I’ve seen a lot of preferences go to Transport Matters from all sorts of directions – presumably because most people can agree on wanting better public transport. I’m wondering if they might actually pick up a seat.
The bottom of the ALA’s ticket is always Liberal, Labor and the Greens, in that order, with one notable exception – in the Western Metropolitan Region, ungrouped independent Kathy Majdlik is singled out for last place. Given the sort of things the ALA supports, I am predisposed to like Ms Majdlik. The Victorian Socialists and Fiona Patten’s Reason Party are also regulars on the ALA’s hate list, and there are guest appearances from various other ungrouped independents and from the Voluntary Euthanasia Party and the Animal Justice Party.
The Body Politic
Policies, Snark, Terrible Theme Songs and Other Observations
“Slowly but surely our Judeo-Christian values, ethics and customs are being replaced… If we continue to tolerate Islam without understanding it, Australia as a free, secular democracy will be lost.”
If you want to know how scary this political party is, I highly recommend reading the article I’ve linked to above. These are not pleasant people. And I’m not just saying this because of their policies (though, frankly, many of their policies are hateful and the ones which aren’t hateful are kind of destructive in other ways).
One of the joys of being female on the internet that goes double if you write political posts is that you get a very special class of commentator. And last election, many of the top-scoring entries in ‘most abusive comment of the election’ came from Australian Liberty Alliance supporters.
(Now seems like a good time to mention that I screen comments on this blog. I will let through a certain amount of nastiness, particularly when I feel that it is kind of illustrating my point. But I will block the truly disgusting / abusive stuff.)
But enough of this avoidance. Let’s put on our personal protective equipment and wade into the toxic pit that is the Australian Liberty Alliance.
The ALA is a relatively new party on the political scene, having formed in October 2014. They have no slogan, which is probably for the best, but if I tell you that Fraser Anning gave the Keynote at the launch of their Victorian State Election Campaign, that might give you a tiny hint of what we’re looking at here. While they say that they are against racism (because Islam isn’t a race), and do indeed have one candidate who is not white, I feel that they may possibly be just a teeny bit more racist than they like to admit.
Their About page gets you right into the swing of things:
As civic-minded Australians we cannot remain passive while damage is done to our nation, our communities and our families. Members of Australian Liberty Alliance make a stand for what is right, just and not negotiable; values our forefathers worked and died for. We give civic-minded Australians the opportunity to become part of a new movement, a political party that offers Australian voters a new vision and hope for the future.
Note the warlike language – damage is being done to our country, so we must make a stand and fight for what is right.
Our Australia stands for individual liberty, small government, Western values built on Judaeo-Christian and Humanistic foundations, social fairness and an integrated multi-ethnic society with one set of laws for all, regardless of colour, gender or creed.
Little dog-whistle there to the threat of sharia law. (Also, I wish people would stop it with the ‘Judaeo-Christian’ business. Judaism and Christianity are quite distinct religions. Yes, we share one part of our holy books, but we interpret it fairly differently.)
There is no place for big government, racism, political correctness, moral relativism, divisive multiculturalism or tolerance for the intolerant. Migrants do not dream of a new life in Australia because we are a Socialist, Islamic or tribal society. Migrants came for the freedom, justice and prosperity only Western civilisation creates.
Lots of good, right-wing buzzwords and talking points here. My favourites are political correctness (which tends to translate to ‘why should we have to not call you by whatever offensive thing we’ve decided to call you by’), big government, and ‘divisive multiculturalism or tolerance for the intolerant’. That last one is very interesting, because to me, a lot of what the ALA says looks pretty intolerant. So does that mean I shouldn’t have to tolerate it? Or is it that I am being intolerant by not tolerating their Islamophobia, so they shouldn’t have to tolerate my intolerance of their intolerance…? This could get confusing.
As any good revolutionary movement should, the ALA has a Manifesto. And I want to pause here for just a moment, because I think it’s probably important to notice that the ALA does view itself in many ways as a revolutionary movement. Their language is the language of fighting the establishment – of the mythical Big Government that is taking away their freedom of speech with its political correctness, and is betraying the values their forefathers died for. And revolutionary movements do not cooperate with governments. They take them over.
(And, as we will discover, the ALA wants to weaken our current gun laws. I do not find this reassuring.)
The Manifesto is in multiple parts which, maddeningly, almost but do not quite match their policy sections. There is a lot of overlap, so what I think I’ll do is go through their policies, and then see what’s left in the Manifesto that we haven’t covered.
Australian Law and Constitution
The ALA is in favour of freedom of speech, and in particular, wants to repeal good old Section 18C, which is this one:
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
That would be the political correctness they are so concerned about. From there they leap straight into:
It is our core policy that all attempts to impose Islam’s theocracy and Sharia law on our society must be stopped by democratic means, before the demographic, economic and sociopolitical realities make a peaceful solution impossible.
This is interesting for two reasons. First, they are quite open saying that their core policy is to oppose Islam. That’s what they are here for. But the implication that saying or doing offensive things about it is a good way to do this is… interesting. Also, there is, I think, a not-very-veiled threat in the suggestion that at some point a peaceful solution will not be possible.
The ALA refers us to yet another document about practical steps to stop Islamisation of Australia. Which, incidentally, says that multiculturalism has failed and we need unity and inclusion and to discourage groups based on ethnic backgrounds, which is interesting, because I’m pretty sure they were saying that they were OK with multiculturalism earlier.
Look, I’m not going to analyse this document too, or I’ll be here all night, and honestly, it’s making me feel a little ill. Their basic premise is that Muslims, as a tenet of their faith, need everyone else to be Muslim, and will use any means to make this happen. They are taking the most fundamentalist, aggressive version of Islam and claiming that it is the only true version of Islam. And they think that Australia is in real and imminent danger of this.
According to the 2016 census, 604,200 people, or 2.6% of the population, identified as Muslim. In my particular area of Melbourne, which has a big Muslim population, we’re still looking at less than 10% of the population being Muslim.
I really don’t think we are being taken over, here. I do, however, think there is some projection going on. I mean, the implication in this document is that the ALA needs everyone else to be not Muslim, they are using the language of warfare and revolution at every turn, and their concern about doing this before a peaceful solution becomes impossible sounds a lot like believing that they will, if pressed, use any means to make this happen.
The monsters we fear the most are the ones we most resemble.
Anyway. They want a 10 year moratorium on all resident visa categories for Muslims, and
Further, we will require for accredited Islamic organisations in Australia to accept formally the supremacy of Australian law and universal human rights over Islamic doctrine and Sharia law. For example full face coverings in public spaces shall be prohibited.
We will seek to prevent the implementation of any aspect of Sharia finance, Sharia courts and the influence of local or foreign Sharia councils over Australian institutions, our economic system and our supply chain. Among the proposed measures is the mandatory labelling of products and services from companies that have taken out halal certification, the implementation of the ‘user pays’ principle for halal certification schemes and an end to religious discrimination in Australia’s secular organisations.
Again, they are fighting a threat that really doesn’t exist.
(Also, I want to know more about religious discrimination in Australia’s secular organisations. Are we talking about Catholic hospitals that receive government funding but discriminate against women seeking terminations or birth control? Or Anglican schools that receive government funding but would like to sack gay teachers? What about bakers who don’t receive government funding, but do want to discriminate against gay couples? I am almost certain that this is not what they have in mind.)
The ALA wants to abolish dual citizenship, which I remember from last time, when I gleefully pointed out that I was the only person in my family who gets to stay in Australia. Except that it turns out that the Italian embassy may have screwed up, and I possibly do have dual citizenship after all, so it looks like it will be Europe for me if this lot gain power. Which… would not be an entirely unappealing option in those circumstances.
They want electronic voting, which works beautifully in the USA, so why wouldn’t we want it? / sarcasm
Oh, and they want guns. But only for law-abiding citizens! Because we have a natural right to self-defense (which also works so beautifully in the USA). So the ALA wants to simplify our gun laws and make it easier for people to get guns. Oh, no, I’m sorry – just Australian citizens and New Zealand permanent residents.
ALA holds the right to self defence to be the natural right of every lawful citizen. We have partially delegated this right to the state in exchange for the promise to protect us against violence and criminal behaviour. When state authorities are unable to protect us, this delegation becomes void and the right to defend our life, property and those in our care returns to us in full. However, this is meaningless, when Australians are legally prevented from owning the means to defend themselves. This imbalance can only be overcome by allowing citizens of good character to own the means to adequately defend themselves against an aggressor.
Wow, so basically we are looking at right-wing, libertarian, Islamophobes who want the right to offend people and threaten them, and who also want guns?
Look, it’s probably too early to say which party will be getting the coveted last spot on my ballot, but – hang on just a second, I have to take this call –
Sorry. That was Antony Green on the line. He’s called it. The ALA are going to the bottom of my ballot. And Antony Green is never wrong!
Right. Let’s wade further into this cesspit and see if there are any gold nuggets buried amongst the dung.
Citizenship and Integration
This is another core policy, which repeats a lot of things from the previous section. The ALA starts off by talking about how they favour integration over separation, but this quickly leads into another screed on stopping the Islamisation of Australia.
Islam does not accept the separation of religion from state, but seeks dominance over all aspects of human life and society. Whereas we see religion as part of life, Islam sees life as part of the religion. This is not ‘Islamism’ or a minority view by extremists, this is basic Islamic doctrine. While only a small number of Muslims actively pursue this agenda, Islam’s divine law makes it the duty of all Muslims to contribute to this effort according to their abilities. No other religious ideology in our time has both the doctrinal aspiration as well as the economic and demographic muscle to impose itself globally.
This is not true, and you can read a really interesting paper about it here, if you like.
The ALA believes that true reconciliation comes from… well, colour-blindness is probably the best way to put it. Basically, if we eliminate all the differences between us, then we will all get along, which… maybe, but that seems at odds with their other libertarian ways. They feel that affirmative action is just a form of institutionalised racism. They recognise that ‘certain individuals or groups have circumstances that require specific interventions appropriate to their needs’, but they don’t say what these are or have a plan for addressing this. Probably because they don’t have one.
They want to focus on community spirit, which is once more about citizenship and being properly Australian and not community groups that are based on particular national groups.
Let me say something about integration and community and multiculturalism.
My father’s emigrated from Italy in the 1950s. Most of my grandparents’ generation bought or rented houses near each other, creating enclaves where everyone spoke Italian, went to Churches that held services in Italian, married Italians. and became members of social clubs with other Italians. They did learn English, mostly through work, though few of them became absolutely perfect English speakers, and they interacted with Anglo-Australians professionally, but their main social networks were other people who shared their experience and language. Their children, my dad’s generation, went to Australian schools, speak English and Italian fluently, went to University, married non-Italo-Australians (though often people from other immigrant backgrounds – shared experience is a thing), and stayed close to family while having plenty of friends in the non-Italo-Australian community.
My brother and I speak very little Italian, and are thoroughly Australianised, though we do have very strong opinions about the proper way to make pizza and even stronger ones about the appalling things Italian restaurants do with carbonara. Our heritage is preserved mostly through food traditions and stories, but we think of these as things which make us Australian, rather than things that make us Italian – because part of being Australian is having a multicultural heritage.
Clearly, the fact that my grandparents mostly spent time within the Italo-Italian community did not stop them from integrating, and it gave them stability and support when they were starting a new life in a strange country.
Integration happens naturally, if you give people a little help. But it’s unreasonable to expect it to happen absolutely and completely in the first generation.
Finances and Public Adminnistration
The ALA doesn’t really like public administration or ownership of anything. Government spending is unsustainable – there is too much bureaucracy – we need to be proudly self-reliant – we need to lower taxes!
They are committed to ‘reducing the size of government and cutting down non-essential projects’, but they don’t say what these projects are. They will reduce taxes on income and profit but increase the GST, which gives you a good sense of just whose taxes are getting reduced here (hint: it’s not the taxes of poor people). They also want to make foreign businesses pay tax, which may be the first thing they’ve said so far that I’m 100% in favour of.
Interestingly, the ALA is actually in favour of clean energy, though they think natural gas is the best alternative for oil-based fuels. Mind you, they don’t want to subsidise tooooo many people with solar, because that would be big government, and this lot want small government and lots of privatisation. (But they’ll subsidise people in rural and off-grid locations, because those are the true Australians and they deserve our help! I don’t think they trust urban folk like me. Which is fair, because I definitely don’t trust them.)
On the other hand, the ALA’s Climate Change policy looks like it was written by three different people. On the one hand, ‘the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change created hysteria about rising sea levels’, and Australia has always had extreme natural events (see: ‘I love a sunburnt country’). On the other hand ‘Australian Liberty Alliance acknowledges the climate is changing and that human activity impacts on the environment’. On the third hand, special interest groups are terrible!
Anyway, the answer is apparently economic realism and cutting immigration. Also tackling waste disposal.
They do worry about water a bit, and want to abolish the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, construct more dams, create a water grid, and use more hydroelectricity. I have a feeling some of these things are not consistent with the others. And they want to do more greywater recycling.
Health and Human Services
This set of policies is a bit of a mixed bag. They want to reduce red tape, because this crew are very much against
anything red red tape, and they want to make sure that everyone who can afford it has private health insurance so that those who can’t afford it can use the public system. They also want to create day surgery clinics “with 23 hour licences, which concentrate on efficient standard procedures”.
The idea of this is that more patients would be seen in a day patient setting, which costs less. This sounds good in theory, but some day surgeries take longer than expected, or start later, or just turn out to need more recovery time due to an idiosyncracy of the patient, and an overnight stay becomes necessary. This policy would mean moving that patient to another hospital after surgery, which is probably going to be less good for the patient, and also expensive. So… not sure about this one.
The ALA wants to strengthen health services for rural Australians and Australians in Aboriginal communities. They also want better mental health services for prisoners, which is random, but positive. Can we get through this whole policy without being hateful?
They are dubious about the NDIS, and think that we need to increase superannuation contributions and create “private-public partnerships to operate more efficient, integrated aged-care centres and state-of-the art palliative care units.”
The ALA is OK with people terminating their own lives, but not with people assisting them to do so. And they are against abortion after the first trimester, unless circumstances are exceptional.
Oh, bloody hell, and here we go with Advancing the Natural Family. Which includes being against gay marriage (but otherwise non-discriminatory towards LGBT people) and not ‘promoting’ ‘alternative sexual orientations’ in schools or public institutions.
So much for keeping religion out of secular institutions. Because there really aren’t a lot of atheists out there claiming that being gay is unnatural…
The ALA is very pro-vaccination, which is good, but – oh dear:
Giving birth should not be considered a substitute for income. To this end, we shall lower child benefit payments from the third child on, while providing a considerable income tax credit for one parent to ensure a young family on a single wage can cope with the cost of living.
We consider both mother and father to be paramount for a child’s positive development. We will rigorously hold to account parents who neglect their children. Adoption for natural families should be made more accessible.
OK, I don’t know if this is conscious or not, but this sounds like it’s straight out of the DLP’s playbook. Suspicion of single mothers, promotion of families with one earner, and the need for a mother and a father to be around? I don’t think this lot like divorce. And I think they are more religious than they are letting on.
Also, may I go on record here to say that I don’t approve of policies that risk depriving children of food, housing, or education in order to punish their mothers for having too many of them or for leaving abusive relationships?
Police and Defense
Moving on to the things the ALA cares a bit less about, there is a very short policy about Federal Police and Emergency Management, which they refer to as Restoring Civil Society, and is basically about respecting the police.
They care a little bit more about defense, and want to increase the budget, and apparently don’t think that women are really suited to the military, though they don’t come quite out and say it. (“Political, religious or gender sensitivities must never imperil Australia’s soldiers.” )
And they haven’t written a policy on National Security and Customs yet, but you can bet it’s going to be nasty.
Foreign Affairs, Aid and Trade
The ALA have almost got one good policy here, when they propose that “the right of foreigners to purchase real estate and other property must be fully reciprocal. Only nationals of a country, which allows Australians free access to its own property market, shall be permitted to own property in Australia. Everyone else can lease Australian real estate.”
But they then explain that Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, and should not be criticised by ‘those with limited understanding of historical and sociopolitical developments in the Levant’, which I’m pretty sure means ‘anyone who doesn’t agree that Israel is right and everyone else is wrong’. Also, they think that Israel should have Jerusalem to itself. Yikes.
(My thoughts about Israel are… complicated. And nuanced. But I’m reasonably sure that anyone who thinks the situation in Israel and Palestine is completely straightforward and one-sided has the wrong end of the stick.)
Unsurprisingly, the ALA does not like refugees, and wants to withdraw from the UN charter, and they only want to give foreign aid to ‘governments subscribed to the UN Charter on Human Rights and who guarantee gender equality and protection of religious minorities’. I would think that such a policy would eliminate a significant portion of the developing world, but perhaps I am engaging in destructive stereotyping here.
On the trade front, they are predictably protectionist, and also anti-union and anti-red-tape, because these things send jobs overseas. They also think that everyone on unemployment benefits should either be undergoing training or participating in work for the dole. There are parties who could say this and I’d be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt about the training and work programs. The ALA is not one of these parties. Also, what about people with disabilities, caring responsibilities etc?
Education and training
We shall return public schools and universities to their core function, reintroduce a firm focus on general knowledge into our education system and refocus on more traditional methods of education and appreciation of Western civilisation.
Children must be prepared for the realities of life. Advancing to the next class level in primary schools shall be based on objective learning outcomes.
There’s a definite feeling of ‘schools have become too soft’ about all of this. The ALA wants a school voucher system, and then there is this:
We will seek to base the funding of Australia’s universities on a more targeted, performance-based HECS/HELP scheme that will benefit engaged students and hard-working academic staff, as well as our national economy. Many university departments will need to allow a broader range of opinions and freedom of speech.
These are the people who make jokes about being ‘triggered’, aren’t they?
They want retired Australians to be able to attend lectures for free, though, which is nice.
Incidentally, I’m noticing a real dichotomy throughout these policies – Country = good. City = bad. Older Australians = deserving of respect and consideration. Younger Australians = Lazy and soft. Privatisation = good. Government services = bad.
The Internet and Communications
Everyone should be able to have a ‘limited, but free’ internet service to access essential services, but everything else should be optional, commercial and privatised.
Government must not engage in filtering information available via commercial or academic Internet services, except on explicit request by the end user, such as families wanting to protect their children or employers controlling access for employees via the company network.
So, no filtering out of hate speech by the government, but if parents want to ‘protect’ their children from understanding about same sex relationships, that’s totally fine.
And they want a free press, for which the first steps are privatising the SBS and a lot of the ABC.
These are awful people.
So, as you’ve you’ve probably gathered that I am not fond of the ALA. They seem to me to a really nasty mix of dog-eat-dog Libertarianism, Traditional Values, and Islamophobia (with a whiff of more generalised racism, sexism and homophobia). And they like guns.
Really, if you were trying to design a party that was opposed to everything I believe in, you would come up with something a lot like this. There is so much cruelty and selfishness embedded in some of these policies.
To be honest, reading the ALA’s policies makes me think of some of the Trumpist / Republican politics in the US at present – on the one hand, you get votes by appealing to people’s desire to see others as the enemy, and then on the other, you have this suite of financial policies that primarily benefit the wealthy and hurt the poor. And then you can encourage those who suffer from these policies to blame Muslims and PC culture, because clearly they are stealing our jobs, filling everything up with red tape so that businesses can’t function and employ people, and taking away our rights to say what we *really* think of them.
Which is really putting the ‘vicious’ into ‘vicious cycle.
This is really nasty stuff. Islamophobia is awful in its own right, but using it as a cover so that you can take more away from the poor and marginalised is just foul.
(You know, I’m almost hoping that they are actually sincerely Islamophobic, because that would be marginally better than stirring up hatred just for profit…)
I’m going to go wash my brain with bleach, now. And then I’m going to find some nice, sane independents to write about, because I think we all need a break.