Federal Election 2019: Meet the Australian People’s Party


Website: http://australianpeoplesparty.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AustralianPeoplesParty/
A New Direction for Australia: Time for a Change
Themes: Common sense and a fair go.  See themselves as centrist, but fairly progressive.  Increases to welfare, more renewable energy, better healthcare.  Slightly obsessive about fraud, and a bit funny about foreigners.
Preferences: To be updated when the how to vote cards are declared.

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Federal Election 2019: Meet the Australian Conservatives


Website: https://www.conservatives.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AUConservatives/
A better way.
Themes: Judeo-Christian tradition, Western values, conservatism, individualism, LGBTQI+ people are icky, capitalism is awesome, and libertarianism is also pretty great.
NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.  Every single State.  Only the Territories escape.
Preferences: To be updated when the how to vote cards are declared.

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Federal Election 2019: Meet the Australian Better Families Party


Website: https://betterfamilies.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theabfparty/
We are better together.
Themes: Mental health reform, child support reform, family law reform.  Better support for victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender.  A touch of ‘but what about the men?’, and a worrying whiff of Men’s Rights Activism.
Preferences: To be updated when the how to vote cards are declared.

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Federal Election 2019: Meet the Affordable Housing Party


Website: https://www.affordable-housing-party.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AffordableHousingParty/
Themes: Single-issue party concerned about housing affordability in Australia.  No policies in other areas, however they identify themselves as being on the progressive side of politics.
Preferences: To be updated when the how to vote cards are declared.
Standing in NSW only, so far.

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Victorian State Election Wrap Up: Who’s Who in the Legislative Council

So I got absolutely knocked flat by Christmas last year, with 18 singing engagements in December, in addition to my actual full-time job (which was being particularly trying), and I never did get around to see what Santa had brought us for the Legislative Council.

And then I got knocked flat again by grant applications and helping with Midsumma and getting to know my new Division, so I got halfway through writing this and then ran out of time.

But it’s never too late to amend matters, and besides, it looks like at least one person has crossed the floor since the election already, so maybe waiting to see who was really there was the wisest option…

So I wrote the above in February, along with about half of the profiles below, and then I got totally overwhelmed with running an event at work, and I’m never going to finish this dratted thing and I really need to start working on the Federal Election, since there are more than fifty parties registered already, and I’m about to be flattened by grants again.  So I’m going to put this to bed, even if I have to make my analyses much shorter than I wanted them to be.

The Legislative Assembly

We are only going to take a quick peek at this, since we already knew roughly what was going on here – namely, a walkover for the ALP.  But there are a couple of things worth noting.

  • It turns out it wasn’t the End of All Things for the Greens after all.  I really should stop believing the press when they say this, since they do so after every single election.  They didn’t manage to keep Northcote, but they did, finally, get Brunswick, and they held on to Melbourne and Prahran.  So basically, they broke even in the Lower House.  It may not have been the result they wanted, but it was better than they had feared.
  • We gained a new Independent in the Lower House, joining the two who were there already (Suzanna Sheed in Shepparton, and Russell Northe in Morwell, who was a member of the National Party until August 2017).  Ali Cupper, a young, female, left-leaning Independent won the seat of Mildura from the Peter Crisp, the National Party incumbent.
  • Labor won 55 of the 88 seats, the Liberals won 21, and the Nationals 6.  Essentially, Labor doesn’t need anyone in the Lower House.  The Upper House, however is a different story.

The Legislative Council

Oh, lordy, what a mess.  So, there are 40 seats in the Legislative Council, and alert readers will be aware that after the last election, Labor held 14 of them, the Coalition held 16, the Greens held 5, the Shooters and Fishers held 2, and the Sex Party, the DLP, and Vote 1 Local Jobs held one each.  Then the DLP senator resigned and became an Independent, but basically, Labor needed to get the Greens and Fiona Patten on side to have 50% of the vote, and then had to convince one of the tiny parties to support them in order to get a majority.

After the 2018 election, Labor now has 18 of the 40 seats in the Legislative Council, which means they only need three more votes to pass legislation.   This should theoretically be easier, except for the fact that they don’t really have any blocs that they can negotiate with, because we now have 11 Coalition Senators, 2 Liberal Democrat Senators, 2 Senators from Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, a third Senator, Catherine Cumming, who ran as a Hinch Senator, but quit the party to become an independent, and then one senator each from Sustainable Australia, the Animal Justice Party, Transport Matters, Fiona Patten’s Reason Party, the Greens, and the Shooters and Fishers.

So once again, Labor needs to get the Green (Samantha Ratnam) and Fiona Patten on side, and then convince one of the tiny parties to support them to get a majority.  I suspect that this is good news for those of us who enjoyed the previous Andrews Government, since neither the Greens nor Patten have changed their priorities much, they did both vote with the Government on most legislation in the last government, and they do still look like the easiest parties for Andrews and co to negotiate with for the kind of legislation Andrews likes to put through.  (Also… I’m a bit excited here, because Patten and Ratnam are located in Northern Metropolitan.  Is it too much to hope that they might be able to squeeze some better infrastructure for us northsiders out of the deal?  I mean, we know Andrews likes infrastructure, how hard can it be…?)

But let’s look at this a bit more closely anyway.  First, the Coalition.  With only eleven votes, they really have to get all but one of the non-Labor Senators on side to block legislation, and I don’t think they are going to be able to do that unless Andrews goes completely off the rails.  Their natural allies are the Liberal Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers, and possibly Transport Matters, who really seemed to *hate* Daniel Andrews on a personal level. Hinch’s Justice Party, while left-leaning, might be susceptible to a tough-on-crime approach, but I don’t like their chances with the other parties.  If anything, Animal Justice are likely to view Labor Party legislation as not going far enough to the left, and we already know that the Greens and Patten’s Reason Party are unlikely to vote with the Coalition.

Having dealt with the Coalition, let’s have a closer look at some of the votes the Labor Party might be wooing.

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

We have two Senators here, Stuart Grimley and Tania Maxwell.

Stuart Grimley is a former school principal and police detective, who has worked as a teacher in remote Aboriginal communities, and as a police officer has worked with victims of abuse and sexual offenses.  He is deeply concerned about the rights of crime victims, and wants tougher sentencing and a better support system for victims of crime, particularly those dealing with the justice system, who are often forced to relive the trauma of the event in court.  He is in favour of a register for child sex offenders, but this shouldn’t include teenagers sexting each other.

Tania Maxwell is a youth support worker and an anti-violence campaigner, and co-founder of the Enough is Enough campaign.  She is passionate about community safety and early intervention, and wants bail and parole reform, but also to find ways to manage our youth justice system more effectively to reduce reoffending.

Both of these senators seem, frankly, to be quite lovely people.  They seem likely to be supportive of any legislation around better ways to prevent domestic violence, but are also likely to be swayed by ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric from the Coalition.  Still, Andrews is not without hope here.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

Note: I wrote this bit before the Christchurch shootings.  I have to say, my sympathy for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers has dried up a bit since then. But if I go back and re-write this, I will never, ever get this posted.

Jeff Bourman is a former police officer and IT contractor who grew up in the country, shooting rabbits and foxes.  He’s really into recreational shooting – which, you know, that is what the party says it is for, and while I completely disagree with basically everything on his page, you can’t fault his transparency.  He feels strongly that law-abiding gun afficionados are being unfairly attacked and punished for the crimes of others.  His Facebook page suggests that he wants tougher policing, but less of a nanny state when it comes to speed limits.  He is concerned about farmers and bushfires, and against vegan extremists.  (I’m not quite sure how broadly he is defining the latter, to be honest – he shares a lot of articles about vegans kidnapping livestock and sabotaging farms, which I’d agree is quite extreme, but he also seems to have left the chamber for the AJP senator’s opening speech, which is a little petty, and perhaps a missed opportunity.)

I reckon he will vote with the government on legislation involving better infrastructure for regional Victoria, but other than that, I don’t like their chances of getting him on board.

Sustainable Australia

Clifford Hayes has a background in film and television (including editing Mad Max), but got into local council politics in 2005, with the goal of opposing high rise developments.  He feels that population growth is the biggest environmental issue Australia faces, and one can’t address global warming without it.  And he has a point, but reducing immigration by 50% doesn’t actually fix that, because it doesn’t reduce the number of people in the world, just in Australia.  It’s hard to say where he might vote with the Andrews government, but he might be good news for people wanting legislation that gives councils more power to stop developers…

Transport Matters

Rodney Barton is the President of the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Association of Australia, which sounds a lot like a lobby group for the taxi and hire car industry, and operates a chauffeur hire car business. He is very angry about the deregulation of the taxi industry, which evidently caused him personal harm, and he wants to hold the government accountable.

Barton is a big believer in public transport, which he feels is the only solution for easing congestion – but Andrews shouldn’t count on his support there, because his Twitter Account also suggests that he thinks Labor is doing a rubbish job of running our trains.  (Which… were privatised by a Liberal government, so I’m not entirely sure the government can be said to be running them.)  Other than his personal animus against Andrews, his Twitter account indicates fairly left-wing leanings, particularly in the area of industrial relations, and one of his concerns about Uber is that the gig economy treats people poorly.  So… my feeling is that Andrews might be able to win him over on some legislation, but only if he does something about airport parking first.

(Whether the train line to the airport will soften him is an interesting question.)

Independent Catherine Cumming

Catherine Cumming ran and was elected as a member of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, but was disendorsed by the party after losing a leadership vote, and is now sitting as an independent.  (Interestingly, her website says that she ran as an Independent).  She is an acupuncturist and a former medic in the Army Reserve, and she feels that the West of Melbourne has been neglected, which is true.  Her policies look reasonably centrist – she wants to lower taxes, but she also wants more funding for education.  She wants tougher laws for drug dealers, but a medical model for addicts.  She wants more jobs, more infrastructure, and a better health system.  And she is in favour of renewable energy.  Her priorities are reasonably well-aligned with those of the Andrews government, and if Andrews is willing to give a bit more infrastructure to the Western suburbs, he might have a pretty reliable vote here.

Liberal Democrats

Ugh, I can’t believe the LDP got two members into the legislative council.  OK, one thing I’ll say for them is that on their Facebook pages each week, they are telling you what they have done and how they voted, so you don’t have to rely on my (negative) opinion to know what they are up to. You can form your own negative opinions all by yourselves!  It’s probably unfair to note that the week before Christchurch they voted against reclassification of lever action shotguns and against ‘a new offense of “intimidation” which would require no intent or anyone actually feeling intimidated’.  I very much doubt that this is what the legislation actually said.   They are, however, very much against collection of DNA without a warrant, so I’ll give them credit for that.

David Limbrick seems to have decriminalisation of drugs as a priority, so that’s a step in the right direction.  But in the wake of Christchurch he felt the need to post on Facebook about how he rejects identity politics and is ‘saddened by the recent rise of authoritarians on both the left and right’, which is a form of both-sides-ism that I find unpleasant in the current climate.  He is weird on renewables – he’s very into nuclear energy, but against wind turbines and wants to raise questions about toxic e-waste from solar panels (implying at the same time that expanding access to solar panels is a bad idea), and he thinks the Greens are the enemy when it comes to renewable energy.

Tim Quilty just posted about the LDP alternative budget, which is mostly about cutting taxes by reducing spending on health and education, but also about abolishing commonwealth assistance for renewable energy, the arts, etc.  I’ve talked about LDP budgets and dog-eat-dog libertarianism before, you don’t need to hear me do it again.  Also from last week: “What does Australia have in common with North Korea, Yemen, Syria, Honduras and Turkmenistan… banned Airsoft.”  Airsoft, for those of you who didn’t know, is a competitive team shooting sport where people shoot their opponents with plastic projectiles launched by airguns.  So that’s his priority, less than a week after the Christchurch shootings.

Look, I’m very much in favour of gun control, and the LDP annoys me at the best of times, so maybe I’m not being fair here, but as a matter of good taste one might wait just a few weeks after the biggest gun massacre our region of the world has ever experienced before going on about how we need to make it easier for people to play with guns that might technically be toys but can still injure people?

Anyway, I can’t see this lot voting with the Andrews government on anything except possibly legalising medical marijuana.  And that’s OK, because why would anyone want to be beholden to them?

Animal Justice Party

Andy Meddick was elected by the Western Victorian region, which is interesting – I would have thought the AJP vote would be stronger in more urban areas, where there are fewer farmers to become exasperated by their views on dairy farming.  His background is in the construction industry, and he is pro-union.  Looking at his page on the AJP site, he seems to be campaigning on the less contentious of their policies (live exports, factory farming, puppy factories), and also on social issues such as refugees, single-parent benefits, etc.  In fact, judging by his Facebook page, he’s looking pretty close to the Greens on a lot of issues.  If Andrews needs more backing for renewable energy projects, Meddick’s vote should be pretty safe.  Roads that potentially go through wildlife corridors will be more of a problem.

Overall?  It looks to me as though Daniel Andrews will not have much more trouble getting his legislation through this Legislative Council than he did through the previous one, though he might have to pay a little more attention to the Northern and Western suburbs to do so.  From my point of view, that’s a pretty good outcome.  We’ll see how it goes.

Scott Morrison and the racist in the dark alley

So here’s something I’ve been thinking.

Scott Morrison has been saying all the right things in the last few days, both about the terrorist attack in Christchurch and about Anning’s disgusting remarks. He is clearly trying to distance himself from the overt racism of the far right. And this is heartening, as far as it goes. Frankly, if ScoMo has decided that trying to be unifying and bring Australians together is a better election strategy than racism and divisiveness, then I’m all for it. Words matter, and I’m in favour of anything that keeps our multicultural society safer.

Hell, perhaps this is ScoMo’s ‘come to Jesus’ moment – the moment when he sees where the kind of rhetoric he has been permitting leads, and decides to change. Even if it isn’t, I believe that he is quite sincere in his horror and revulsion at this event.

But here’s the thing.

This entire conversation is reminding me of the sorts of conversations we have after a woman is attacked and murdered when walking home at night, or by day, or wherever, by the stranger who comes from nowhere. And we are all shocked and we are horrified and we hold vigils and have conversations about how dangerous it is for a woman to walk alone at night. Because it is so much easier to think of rape and assault as something that is perpetrated by strangers in the dark than the fact that women are more likely to be attacked in their own homes and by people they know.

Fraser Anning is helping ScoMo and his mates quite a bit right now. He is giving them something truly despicable to point at, so that they can say ‘this is racism, and we reject it utterly’. And it is, and they should.

The thing is, though, Anning is that stranger in the dark alley. He and people like him are terrible, terrible people, and we absolutely need to stand against their overt racism – but we must not forget that for every attack by a stranger in the dark alley, there are dozens, hundreds, even, of attacks that we don’t see or don’t recognise, because they happen in private, or because they don’t fit our idea of what an attack looks like.

I think it’s important that we don’t let the government, or the media, or anyone else fool us into thinking that they are fighting against racism because they reject Anning and the acts of terrorists. That is the lowest of all possible bars (and I can’t help but noting that there are those still doing their best to limbo under it).

Pay attention to what else they say. Pay attention to the dog whistles about economic migrants and immigrants who don’t want to fit in. Pay attention to what sort of free speech is protected, and what sort is condemned.  Pay attention to who is allowed to be angry, to be outraged, to react in self-defense, to have their feelings hurt.

There are so many microagressions, so many everyday acts of racism, so many things that we ask people just to ignore to keep the peace, because ‘he doesn’t really mean it’, or ‘she was only joking’ or ‘it wasn’t that bad’.

And it’s true that these things aren’t as bad as murdering 51 people because of their religion, or even as bad as blaming those people for their own murder.  But, you know, something can be not as bad as the worst thing you can think of and still be not, actually, good.  It can, in fact, still be bloody terrible.

You can be less racist than Anning, and still be racist.

I think we ought to be demanding that our politicians do better than ‘not the actual worst’.  We’ve become accustomed to some pretty terrible rhetoric, and I think that’s dangerous – our standards have become so low that we feel faintly relieved that ‘at least’ Morrison referred to the killer as a terrorist.

(And I wasn’t even all that surprised when Dutton tried to claim that the Greens were just as bad as Anning.  Surely that ought to merit more than an eyeroll?)

We need to do better than this.  We need to demand that our leaders take responsibility for the racism and xenophobia that they have been enabling (or at best, turning a blind eye to, for the sake of votes).

But most of all we need to understand that racism doesn’t start with a man murdering people at prayer because he is a white supremacist. It starts with words, with small cruelties, with tiny acts of exclusion.  It starts with all the little things our society does to signal that it’s OK to be a little bit racist, it’s OK to think that people who come from somewhere else, or who worship differently from us might be a bit funny or a bit dangerous or a bit inferior.

And, after all, don’t we care about freedom of speech?

Fraser Anning has said terrible, racist things.  This is indisputable.  But we can’t afford to be distracted by him, or by arguments about the proper use of eggs vis-a-vis politicians of any stripe.

I would love to believe that this is the moment when our society and our politicians look inside themselves and reject racism once and for all. But I’ll need more than a denunciation of Anning to be convinced.


Disclaimer: I’m white.  I have no direct experience of racism, nor have I devoted significant time to studying it.  So this analogy might be terribly flawed.  I welcome comments from those who are more knowledgeable.  (But bear in mind that all comments are screened, and I’m not always online and available to unscreen them.)

2019 Federal Election Virtual Drinking Game

I had so many good intentions for this blog in 2019.  For example, I intended to do a proper write up of who wound up in the Victorian  Legislative Council, and indeed, I have started that post, and even continued that post… I just haven’t finished that post.  It’s been that sort of year.  I hope that I will do so soon, but I think I’d better not make any more promises on that score.

Anyway, with the Federal Election looming, it looks likely that we will be seeing some really ugly and stupid politics playing out over the next few months.  Which… will make the next few months not all that different from the last few months.

I was going to create a bingo game to solace us all in the toxic lead-up to this election, but when I shared some of my ideas for a bingo card with a friend he said “That’s not bingo, because all of those things are guaranteed to happen.”

And, while I don’t think he is *quite* right, there is a seed of truth in his remark.

(Certainly, at least one thing I planned to put on the bingo card has happened in the two days between me coming up with this idea and today.  So while I originally planned not to write this silly post until I had been good and finished my Victorian Election post, I’m putting this up now regardless, before every single thing on it has a chance to happen.)

Which is why I’m turning this into a drinking game.  Or rather, a virtual drinking game, because I don’t want to encourage irresponsible drinking and I think we will all be thoroughly potted if we follow the game plan below.  Mix up the virtual cocktail of your choice and start playing!

Alternatively, if you’d like this game to have some more meaning than our politics currently does, pick a charity – or indeed, a political party – that stands for something you hold dear, and pick a dollar or cent amount for sips, swigs and sculls.  Every time one of the items on the list comes up, put the appropriate amount into a piggy bank, and when the time is right, donate the amount you have raised.  Everyone wins!

(Well, except the Coalition, I hope.  And yes, this drinking game is just as partisan as everything else I write.)

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National Holiday

I was born and live on Wurundjeri land.

That probably tells you everything you need to know about my views on Australia Day and whether we should change the date, but when did that ever stop me from writing a blog post?

I don’t actually know a lot about the history of this country before European settlers arrived (which was not, incidentally, on January 26, 1788.  Though apparently that *was* the date the French arrived at Botany Bay, so we should probably be putting snails, not snags, on the barbie, if barbecues are our thing…).

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Another year over, and an announcement

Let’s start with the big announcement – Cate Speaks now has its own web address!  I have registered www.catespeaks.com as a domain, and have also bought a WordPress Plan which should make the ads on this website disappear.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it has been made possible by your support through my Ko-fi.com account, so thank you for that.  You might want to update your bookmarks, but don’t worry too much if you don’t remember to do so – the domain maps from the WordPress site, so going to the old site should bring you straight here.

I’ll be making one other change to this website, and that is to start adding book reviews, mostly retrospectively, but you can expect to hear a lot from me on this score in the months leading up to the Hugo Awards.  The reason for this addition is that I’ve been reviewing books in a number of different locations for a while, and felt like it would be a good idea to consolidate everything in the one spot.  (Nobody needs five separate blogs, a Facebook account, a Twitter account, and a Goodreads account.  It’s ridiculous.)  You might get a bit more silly poetry around here, too.  I seem to be in that sort of mood.  I’ll keep tagging everything as appropriate, so if you are just here for the politics, you can easily avoid the frivolity and lowbrow literary choices.

And that’s enough of that – let’s take a look at 2018.

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