Victorian Senate Group AH: And another Christian Party

There are so many Christian parties on the ballot this year!  It’s insane.  I’m Christian myself and I’m turned off by this – we really do not need a lobby group, and we certainly don’t need five of them.  Actually, I really do think religion ought to stay out of politics, except as far as it informs the principles by which one governs.  (And since this *is* a Sunday, let me just add that I personally feel that if one is a politician who likes to parade his or her Christianity, it would be nice if one also paraded a commitment to assisting and empowering the disadvantaged, the poor, rather than worrying about people’s love lives.  The Bible isn’t actually all about sexual morality, and the New Testament barely touches on it at all.)

Have your eyes glazed over yet?  I’m sorry.  I’m a little frustrated by some of these parties, and I just caught sight of something on the Australian Christians‘ website that made my blood boil.  But we’ll get to that in a bit.  Also, I really, really hate their party name.  Setting aside that it is purely silly to claim that you are the Australian Christians when there are four other loudly Christian parties on the ballot, it implies that they speak for all Australian Christians.  Well, they sure as hell don’t speak for me.  Oops, I said hell.  That really was unintentional, but now I feel compelled to leave it there.

Ooh, hello, I just went and had a look to see who, if anyone, this group were affiliated with and discovered firstly that they seem to be linked to Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats (which explains a lot), and secondly that the Melbourne Anglican Archbishop and the General Secretary of the Victorian Council of churches have much the same objection to the name that I do:

“I am concerned about the possible effects to religious harmony in Victoria if a political group which does not represent the views of the majority of Christians in Australian were to be allowed to use the name ‘Australian Christians’, with an obvious implication that it did speak for all Christians,” says a letter written by Dr Freir to the Electoral Commissioner (as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald late last week).

General secretary of the Victorian Council of Churches, Theo Mackaay told ABC’s PM program last night, “By calling themselves ‘Australian Christians’ they could very easily give the impression during an election campaign that they are speaking for all adherents to the Christian faith.

“What I know of the party, they really do not represent the broad scope of Christianity.”

Sorry to go on and on about this, but a very reasonable criticism frequently levelled at progressive Christians is why don’t they speak out against the extremists.  It seems important, therefore, to point out occasions when they do.

Anyway, let’s look at who the Australian Christians (or some of them) are preferencing in the Senate.

Oh, and another disclaimer, I suppose.  I’m quite pro-choice.  This lot really aren’t.  And they make me very, very angry with some of their claims.

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Victorian Senate Group AG: Faster than a speeding bullet (train)

I’ve been so looking forward to the Bullet Train for Australia Party.  You just know you are onto a good thing with a party name like that.  And you have to love a party that states right up front that they are ‘a not-for-profit single-issue political party.  Our sole issue is getting a Bullet Train for Australia and the benefits that a proper rail service will bring to our cities, our regional centres and Australia.’

Really, what’s not to like?

Let’s have a look at their preferences.

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Victorian Senate Group AF: In which Drug Law is Reformed

I have to say, I rather like the look of the Drug Law Reform Party.  At first glance, they look like a saner, better-thought-out version of HEMP – HEMP for the middle class, educated voter who may have dabbled in social work, or may just have had a joint or two at University and not regretted it.  They are pretty much a one-issue party, but there are worse issues to have.  Such as fishing.

The Drug Law Reform Party has two tickets, both of which start with the Australian Democrats, a sound move in my book.  And I’ve just realised that the lead candidate for Victoria is Greg Chipp… a striking coincidence, don’t you think?  Sure enough, it turns out that Greg, the party’s founder, is the son of Don Chipp, founder of the Democrats.  According to the Herald Sun he is also a former heroin addict who apparently wants to show people in the throes of addiction that they can recover and make a contribution to society.  Good on him, I say.  Now, back to those tickets…

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Victorian Senate Group AE: In which the Greens must be stopped!

I really was enjoying living in the land of policies that didn’t raise my blood pressure, but now we must return to the Outdoor Recreation Party, which also goes by the catchy name of Stop the Greens.

Already, we know so much about them…

The Outdoor Recreation Party does not have a Group Voting Ticket in the Senate, so we’ll be taking a look shortly at where others have preferenced them, but this also seems like a good time to raise the issue of connections between libertarian micro-parties.  You see, as you might have noticed, there have been five parties in Victoria who didn’t manage to complete Group Voting tickets – The Liberal Democrats, One Nation, the Australian Republicans, Smokers Rights, and this party, Stop the Greens.  With the possible exception of the Republicans, all of these parties are on the far right and have libertarian tendencies, and it’s actually very unusual to have registered parties failing to lodge tickets, because the advantage of having people able to vote for you above the line is absolutely huge.  Apparently, the reason for this was that David Leyonhjelm, the registered officer for both Stop the Greens and the Liberal democrats, was responsible for putting in Group Voting Tickets for four parties in the Victorian Senate, and was ‘overwhelmed‘.

This is hardly surprising, as one usually has one registered officer per party.  Crikey has written an article suggesting that the LDP, Smokers Rights, the Republicans and Stop the Greens are very closely linked, and may have been intended to funnel votes to each other, though clearly this did not work out in Victoria.  (One Nation is apparently not part of this group – it’s just disorganised)  Certainly, the evidence suggests that they are working together very closely, and it’s interesting to note that three of these parties were only registered in the last couple of months, and that Leyonhjelm was involved with both.

I’ll let you reach your own conclusions on that one, but it seemed relevant to mention it.  We shall now turn to the question of who likes Stop The Greens enough to put them high on their Group Voting Ticket.

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Victorian Senate Group AD: Laboring for Australia

We pause in our tour of teeny tiny parties to take a brief peek at the ALP.  As with the Coalition, I will not be reviewing the ALP’s policies here, because most people are already either aware of these policies or able to find out about them from other, better-informed sources.  Besides, the purpose of this project is to help people figure out which party is which – I think, on the whole, most people know which one the ALP is.

(Hint: they are currently most of the government)

But I will, of course, have a quick look at their preferences, as these are often illuminating, and if there’s going to be a repeat of the Family First debacle from 2004.  Good Lord, that’s ten years ago.  Have I really been doing this for ten years?

The ALP’s Group Voting Ticket in Victoria actually preferences the Greens first of all (take that, Coalition).  And in all honesty, I think that’s a good move – the Greens are closer to Labor than either party would like to think, and I think the ALP membership are generally to the left of the leadership, and would approve of this preferencing.

The ALP then sends any remaining bits of votes to the Sex Party, the Democrats, the Socialist Equality Party and the Pirate Party.  In fact, it’s all the little lefty parties, then the saner libertarian parties, and then the more dodgy right wing ones. Family First turns up at 73,-75, followed directly by the Liberals and the Nationals.  The very bottom of the ticket is reserved for Independent Darrell Morrison – can’t wait to find out what he’s done to earn this – and to the grouped independents Nicholls, Nicholls and Webb.  Directly above these we have One Nation, Rise Up Australia, and the other ungrouped Independent, Lyn Gunter.  The Climate Sceptics are at 87-88 and, fascinatingly, the Secular Party are at 85-86, making them the only left-wing party who isn’t near the top of the ballot.  An attempt to distance themselves from the famously atheist Gillard, perhaps?

I actually quite like this ticket, and may well end up using parts of it as a template for my own ticket, when I get to creating one at Below The Line.  There seems to be a good sense of which parties are the scariest preserved in their rankings, and I like that in a Senate ticket.

Victorian Senate Group AC: Sex Sells

And now we come to the political party that makes everyone giggle when they hear about it – the Australian Sex Party.  I’ll say this for them – they are a party with a sense of humour, which is always refreshing, and their ads are quite clever and very funny.

I’ll admit up-front that I’m a little off the Sex Party just now, because when I previewed them yesterday, I wound up reading their statement on why they put the Greens behind One Nation on their ticket, and it really managed to irritate me.  It wasn’t the preferencing itself – I do get that small parties, including the ones I do like, might find it strategically useful to preference people I don’t like, but they went beyond pointing out that this was a tad hypocritical of the Greens, who have also made dodgy preference deals in the past (which is an absolutely fair counter-argument) to starting to blame the Greens for the WikiLeaks debacle:

Not only did these hypocritical Greens supporters hit the Sex Party. They drove several Wikileaks candidates and party officials to resign over their preference deals. One person was also on suicide watch and yet the Greens army kept firing away on social media like a large group of priests pointing the finger at a sex worker saying, ‘You’re the cause of all this paedophilia!’. It’s a common tactic amongst pious people. When you’re having difficulty in your own house with an issue, isolate a group of people who are smaller than you are and have fewer resources and accuse them of doing the same thing. The Church are masters at it.

Nasty.  And, in my view, uncalled for.  Attacking the hypocrisy of the Greens is fair enough – it sounds like they’ve laid themselves open to it, which is a shame – but seriously, the WikiLeaks people did that to themselves.  I don’t think it was the Greens who drove them to suicide watch.

Having got that off my chest, let’s check out how their group voting ticket actually looks, and yeah, it is a little weird.

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Victorian Senate Group AB: The Democratic Process

As I reach the Australian Democrats, I breathe a sigh of relief, as one who has entered an oasis of sanity.  In fact, I get four relatively sane parties in a row, if you count WikiLeaks, because this seems to be the vaguely-sensible left enclave on the Victorian Senate Paper.  It’s always nice to find a party that doesn’t make you want to weep for the future of this country…

The Democrats turned out to be my favourite party last time, if I recall correctly, though an ungrouped independent who isn’t running this time actually got my first preference.  So I have high hopes for a bit of sanity and compassion… even if it is from a party who really has reached endangered species status.

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Victorian Senate Group AA: In which our Wiki is leaking…

And now we come to the WikiLeaks party, which I have to admit, I’ve sort of been dreading.  It has a lot of lefty cred, so I should theoretically like it, but then you have the recent utter meltdown over preferences, which was all a bit embarrassing and painful.  And then we have the Julian Assange aspect, which is complicated on a lot of levels and I really don’t know how to address at all.

The problem is, frankly, that I live in Melbourne, and am in the same general age bracket as Assange, so I have a number of friends and acquaintances who knew him at university and socially when he lived here.  And they really don’t like him.  As far as I can tell, this opinion is unanimous, though the reasons for it vary.  For me this is problematic, because while I am entirely happy to approach a political party with bias and an expectation of obnoxiousness and / or stupidity, I don’t like to start off by assuming ill of individuals.  But I can’t pretend that, despite never having met the Assange, I am strongly inclined to dislike him, and this does prejudice me against the WikiLeaks Party.  I suspect I’m going to like what WikiLeaks stands for, but I don’t want to see Assange in our Parliament.

(I also can’t pretend that I’m not just a little bit terrified about making that sort of statement on the internet, because whatever Assange himself may be like, he certainly has some very scary supporters online.)

The fairest thing I can do here, I think, is to declare my bias up-front, and avoid talking about Assange further unless any of the policies make it impossible not to.  I am also not going to make any comment on the Swedish allegations and request for extradition, because they are not in the purview of this blog. (And incidentally, should this blog magically turn into the sort of blog that gets a lot of commenters, I’m going to delete any comments that go in that direction.  They are not relevant to this topic. Also, I haven’t seen any conversations about the allegations and extradition request which haven’t become very nasty in a very short space of time.)

I have nothing against WikiLeaks itself, incidentally – there is more to WikiLeaks than Julian Assange, and I think it’s rather sad that WikiLeaks has become so much about a single person, not just because it ignores the contributions of so many other people, but also because when you tie a political party to a single figure, the behaviour and reputation of that figure can very easily be seen as a reflection of that organisation in its entirety.  No matter who that person is, I think this is unfortunate and misleading.

Goodness me, that was serious, wasn’t it?  I shall now return to my wonted frivolity, as we move on to look at the Group Voting Ticket – a group voting ticket that is quite a pleasing one in Victoria, but which had a few issues in other states…

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Victorian Senate Group Z: They call me Baby Driver…

Hooray!  We have reached Z!  Only another half alphabet to go!  I have high hopes of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.  Brand-new political parties are always interesting, and I have to admit, having spent every early morning, lunchbreak and evening this week reading and writing about small parties, any sniff of a new party that might not have very many policies is very appealing…

Other than that, my only pre-supposition here is that this is the party for petrol-heads, which, based on the party’s name, seems like a not-unreasonable conclusion to draw.  Something tells me that they won’t like the Greens much, either.  But I also have a sneaking affection for them, just because I can’t help feeling that my former colleagues from the Police Transport Branch would rather enjoy this group – their idea of an excellent work treat was to go out to the vintage car museum, and attending police car auctions was also as much a pastime as a professional obligation.  (That was a surprisingly fun job in general, which is surprising, given that I don’t drive and am, as you may have noticed, rather to the left, politically speaking).

Enough random speculation about this lot – let’s check out their two Group Voting Tickets.

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Victorian Senate Group Y: In which we talk for the Animals

I have to admit, I’ve been looking forward to the Animal Justice Party with rather mixed feelings.  On the one hand, given that I am a part-time vegetarian, and a food blogger with a strong interest in ethical eating and vegan food, it’s kind of fun seeing a party that, on the face of it, seems to be very pro-vegetarian.  On the other hand, I also look after medical researchers for a living, and I’m betting that Animal Justice won’t be keen on using experimental mouse models.  I’m also a little worried that they are going to fall into what I think of as the ‘fundamentalist vegan’ camp, and I feel uncomfortable around fundamentalists of any stripe…

Then again, I’ve been sitting here, quietly bemoaning the insufficiency of loony left parties in this election so far.  One’s election experience can never be truly complete without at least one party that makes you want to say “Please stop being on my side.  You are making my side look like it is totally crazy…”  Who knows?  The Animal Justice Party could be quite a boon on that count.

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