The One and Only Cate Speaks Microparty Policy Fantasy League!

I have frequently noted that almost every small party – even the otherwise loathesome ones! – has one policy worth reading about.  Sometimes, you have to look really hard to find it, because it is buried in a sea of horror and revulsion, but that only makes it the more beautiful when you find it.

So this election, as a special treat, I thought it might be fun to make a collection of the policies that our smaller, weirder parties have come up with that stand out from the crowd. A Microparty Fantasy League, if you will.  Now, it should be noted that there are some parties on this list who I wouldn’t trust to legislate their way out of a paper sack, and who definitely shouldn’t be put in charge of policy on anything resembling a regular basis.  And it should also be noted that this in no way constitutes a complete policy platform.  But I think you will agree that there are, in fact, some unexpectedly good ideas on this list.

Continue reading

Politics: Federal Election – Meet Glenn Shea

Last, but certainly not least, we come to the final ungrouped Independent candidate, and indeed the final stage in this apparently endless Election Project – Glenn Shea.

Glenn Shea has virtually no online presence, and indeed, finding the correct Glenn Shea on google was a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, his Senate listing showed his occupation as Koori Youth Justice Worker, which pretty much caught my interest immediately. Shea is an indigenous storyteller and actor, who is part of the Koorie community at Wathaurong, near Geelong. I can’t find anything whatsoever about his policies, so instead I’m going to tell you a bit about the program which he founded and in which he works, on the grounds that I strongly suspect it informs his thinking and the sort of policies he’s likely to represent or put forward.

The Wathaurong Education Program is loosely structured around a nine-to-five working week, with a variety of activities and opportunities available to participants each day. A blend of cultural education, creative expression, outdoor activities and basic literacy, numeracy and computer skills, the program also links with mainstream services.

About 10 young people aged 10 to 19 attend the program regularly, while a further eight or nine people drop in and out. For some of the participants the program is a compulsory part of their court orders, for others it is voluntary.

“Our main focus is young offenders who come into contact with the criminal youth justice system, don’t go to school and are simply not interested or motivated,” said Mr Shea.

“It’s frontline work. It’s dealing with young Koories who are engaged in drugs, alcohol and crime. And it’s about looking at their identity, place and belonging, and what their role and responsibilities are within that.”

Mr Shea said the program was not a ‘quick fix’ but planted the seeds for longterm development.

“We offer young Koories the opportunity to understand how to challenge their own thinking and behaviour, and make alternative choices and decisions….”

At the end of the program they take part in a 10-day cultural gathering on the Wathaurong traditional lands, where they talk to Elders and learn about cultural practices, heritage and artifacts such as scar trees and water holes.

“Many of these kids live in a very dark world and this program provides structure and consistency, and gives them a chance to see the different shades of life. They often think they are the lowest of the low, and don’t realise how much they have to contribute,” said Mr Shea.

The program includes a community radio component – the kids learn how to plan and produce a radio program, which both builds practical and teamwork skills, and gives them a voice in the community, something most of these kids don’t feel they have otherwise.

Shea has also written several plays, reflecting on his experience as a Stolen Generation child, and has created an educational board game called ‘Indigenous Storyteller’, which “provides knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal people, society and cultural in a fresh, fun and stimulating way. It encourages student inquiry whilst engaging student in literacy and numeracy skills. The educational resource is also generic and non-political.”.

All in all, Shea sounds like an interesting and talented person, and someone I’d like to know. I suspect he’d come up with very good policies on indigenous health and the juvenile justice system. I’m rather inclined to vote for him, even without knowing what his precise policies are, just on the basis of his current work. I really don’t know where to put him on my ticket. I want to put him first, but without knowing what his policies actually are and why he’s running, I’m reluctant to do so. I hope, though, that he will consider developing a political career further – we need more Aboriginal voices in Parliament, and Shea sounds like someone who has found ways to interact both with the Aboriginal and the non-Aboriginal community, to the benefit of both.

Politics: Federal Election – Meet Grant Beale

Let’s move on to Grant Beale. Beale doesn’t have a senate ticket, but if he did, you can be sure the Greens would be at the bottom of it. He doesn’t have a website, either, but he has been interviewed a few times by local papers, where he has thoughtfully laid out his views for us.

THE prospect of the Greens having the balance of power after this month’s election has prompted Colac district dairy farmer Grant Beale to stand as an independent in the Senate.

Mr Beale, 47, said he was concerned the Greens would impose some of their “extreme views” if they gained the balance of power.

“I hope to take votes away from the Greens,” he said.

“They want to lock up the oceans, next it will be the lakes. With farming, they reckon some of the things we do are cruel to animals. They do not want us spraying for weeds.

“We want a practical approach.”

I especially like the part (later in the article) where he expresses his fear of the Greens running the country. I don’t think even the most optimistic Greens supporter or candidate thinks this is likely, but I admit to a wistful hope that they’ll get the balance of power in the Senate.

Beale is a dairy farmer and former trucker who lives in Colac (not far from Geelong). He has previously run for local council, where he received a fair amount of support but was ultimately not elected. He was part of a successful campaign this year to overturn a ban on recreational fishing for mako sharks, and is against an increase of marine parks in the Otways, which he feels would harm tourism and fishermen alike. He wants an increase in import taxes to help Australian farmers, and he also wants improvements to resting facilities for drivers “because the government says it is getting tough on driver fatigue but there aren’t enough parking bays along highways to do that”. He thinks that the Labor Party is financially irresponsible, and also thinks neither Labor or Liberal are likely to follow through on their promises regarding health and education (I confess to a certain sympathy for this viewpoint).

All in all, I find his straightforwardness about what he is trying to achieve fairly endearing, even though I don’t agree with him about anything except the rest stops. I wouldn’t vote for him, and I do wonder why he hasn’t joined the Nationals, because it sounds to me like he would fit in very well there… actually, I take it back:

He said he was concerned voters who were disenchanted with the two major parties would vote for the Greens in protest.
“A lot of people who don’t want to donkey vote might vote for the Greens, so I’m putting my name up as another choice,”

Fair enough too.

Politics: Federal Election – Meet Independents Stephen Mayne and Paula Piccinini

So, we’re down to the final stretch of this insane project of mine, with just four Independents left to look at. Two of them, Stephen Mayne and Paula Piccinini, are a husband and wife team and seem to be grouped together on their ticket; the other two, Glenn Shea and Grant Beale, are birds of two very distinct, if somewhat mysterious colours, and don’t even provide you with an above-the-line place to vote for them (which, incidentally, significantly decreases their chance of getting into the Senate, as only about 5% of people vote below the line, a number that I am personally trying to increase).

Let’s start with Stephen Mayne and Paula Piccinini. They actually have two Senate tickets, one favouring Family First, and eventually the Liberal party, and the other favouring the Greens and eventually Labor. Their policy seems to put all the small parties ahead of the large parties, with the exception of the three Radical Independents, the Climate Sceptics, the CEC and One Nation. So basically, they don’t really care who gets across, provided it isn’t one of those four.

Mayne and Piccinini don’t have a campaign website, per se, though Mayne does have a website, The Mayne Report which seems to be mostly about shareholder activism, but also has a lot of anti-pokies ads on it. Apparently he and Piccinini are runnning on an anti-pokie machines ticket; I have not been able to learn anything about any of their other policies. I’m also not sure what shareholder activism is. Wikipedia tells me that he is a journalist and the founder of the Crikey, an independent news website which he and Piccinini manageduntil a few years ago. Apparently, he was a media advisor to Jeff Kennett, but fell out with him and founded a website, jeffed.com, for people to complain about Jeff Kennett. Classy. It would appear that he then started running for politics as an independent on every possible occasion (rather incompetently – the first time he tried it, he quit his job to do so before finding out that he wasn’t actually eligible to run as a candidate in Victora, because he didn’t live here), helped found the political party ‘People Power’ (not involved in this election) and then got kicked out. Frankly, he sounds like a bit of a fruitloop, but he doesn’t want guns and nor is he trying to undermine public health, so I can smile on him benignly and move on.

Paula Piccinini is a barrister and mother, who put her career on hold to run all the admin for Crikey. All I can learn about her from google is that she was elected to the board of the RACV on her second attempt. Apparently, Mayne has made more than twenty attempts to get onto the boards of various organisations, including the RACV, and is apparently a little envious (and, by the sound of him, resentful) of his wife’s success. Also, he is a tad sexist:

“Mr Mayne said he realised his wife was a chance to get elected when she beat him by 20 per cent in the 2005 RACV board elections.

“All things being equal, women get about 20 per cent more votes than men in RACV board elections, so I knew Paula would be a good chance when she came up against five men in the 60s this year,” he said.”

Or possibly the RACV board realised that Paula was slightly less batshit crazy than her husband.

But he’s still a sexist twit, and just for that, I’m going to put Paula higher up on the ticket.

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Liberal Democratic Party

Wow, this political party is like every Libertarian I’ve ever seen on a US politics comment thread.

Actually, that’s not fair on America – this lot make the Republican Party look like a bunch of Socialists.

Edited to add: no, it’s really not fair. Having now read most of their policies, I absolutely can’t stand these guys.

I don’t think I’d ever heard of the Liberal Democratic Party before I started writing this series of posts. Having glanced briefly at their website and noted that they are in favour of privatising *everything*, I do not feel that I have lost much by not hearing about them. They are all about small government, deregulation, private enterprise, free trade, and individual rights. An economic free-for-all, in other words, which has worked so well with banking over the last few years. The notion of community or interdependence appears to be a closed book to them. Not surprisingly, I do not find them very appealing.

So, who are they sending their preferences to this election? I suspect I could make a pretty good prediction based on what I have seen of their policies. But it turns out that I’d be wrong, so perhaps I should stop stereotyping and get on with the job (the closer I get to the end of this insane project – and this is my last political party, after which I only have to deal with four independents – the less patience I have, especially with parties I profoundly disagree with, so I am probably being less than fair). Their first handful of preferences go to the Sex Party, Senator On-Line and the Climate Sceptics, the DLP, Building Australia and One Nation. Oh dear. And what is the Sex Party doing in such inauspicious company (truthfully, what it is probably doing is promoting personal freedoms, I’m just bemused at the company it’s keeping). When it comes to major parties, they pick Family First, then alternate Liberal and Labor down the ticket. Not surprisingly, the Communists (Greens, Socialist Alliance and Socialist Equality Party) are at the bottom of the ticket.

Continue reading

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Carers’ Alliance

I have a soft spot for the next party, because it’s one of the reasons I started doing these posts many years ago, when my GeneticsJob asked me to do a brief run-down of all the parties’ policies on disability. In retrospect, they probably didn’t mean *all* the parties, but as you may have noticed, I don’t know when to stop. So let me introduce you to The Carers Alliance.

The Carers Alliance have two tickets in this election. They both start with the independents Steven Mayne and Paula Piccinini, who we haven’t met yet but who I think might be the anti-pokie machines people, and then the Democrats and Senator On-Line. Ticket 1 then goes Labor and ticket 2 goes Liberal – in other words, their preferences will be split 50/50 between the two parties. They don’t like the Liberal Democrats, the Secular Party, the CEC, or the other two Independents, Grant Beale and Glenn Shea, but again, they change the order between tickets.

The Carers Alliance is, not surprisingly, a one-issue party, started by people who are caring for family members with a disability. Their policies therefore fall into the areas Carers, Rights of Children, Education, Special Needs Health, Aged Care, Mental Health, Person-Centered Funding, and Veterans. I’m probably going to like this lot at least enough for a sympathy vote, though rumour among the support groups is that they are very disorganised, very loud and not very good at agreeing on anything. But these are the traits of a young, not very politicised political party, and hopefully things they will learn to curb for the sake of getting things done.

Continue reading

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Secular Party

And now we have a complete change of pace – moving from the Christian Democrats a by the very big, very established Labor party, we find ourselves at the Secular Party, a party that is brand new and very far from the fundamentalist Christian parties… or is it?

The Secular Party’s preferences are pretty good – Democrats, Sex Party, Greens, Carers Alliance and eventually Labor. The bottom of the ticket, unsurprisingly, is reserved for the Christian Democratic Party, with Family First and the Democratic Labor Party directly above them. They aren’t too keen on the Climate Sceptics either.

I should probably say up front that while I went to their site wanting and indeed expecting to quite like this party, I found that I did not, in fact, care for them. They are so very smugly superior that I want to slap them. For example

Unlike the major parties, we have no allegiance to the sectional interests of labour or capital. The Secular Party bases its economic policies on judgements concerning the long-term public interest and in the interests of global humanity.

Because the other parties are just too caught up in their preconceived notions, but *we* actually use our minds in an objective fashion. Sure.

I like their social justice policies and their left-wing worldview, but in all honesty on the subject of religion they remind me rather strongly of the Christian Democrats. They, too, are convinced that they are in possession of the only correct world view, and while other (ie, religious) worldviews should be tolerated, they must always be subordinate to secular interests and are, in truth, considered to be rather dangerous. In short, this group for me verges on fundamentalist, and their tone is condescending towards people of other beliefs, and they manage to irritate me even when they are being reasonable. So I’m not sure how objective I can be here.

Anyway, here’s one of their less annoying opening statements:

Continue reading

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Australian Labor Party

Backing rapidly but cautiously away from the CDP, we come to what by now appears an oasis of sanity on the ballot paper – the Australian Labor Party.
On their policy page they inform me that ‘The Gillard Government has a comprehensive agenda to take Australia forward’. Normally, this would be reassuring, but I must confess in my current fatigued state it fills me with forboding. A quick glance through their site (which works, incidentally, and is markedly free of rude remarks about the Coalition) shows that they have more policies than anyone, even the Greens. I’m not even going to pretend I can cover all of them, and will try to just pick out the more interesting ones.

Labor, or at least Victoria’s branch of it, appears to have learned from the fiasco in 2004 that landed us with Steve Fielding as a Senator. This time around, they have actually put Greens second on their ticket, which pretty much renders their other selections moot. Still, you might be interested to know that directly after the Greens come the Democrats, Senator On-Line and the Carers’ Alliance. The bottom five parties on their ballot are the Liberals, Christian Democratic Party, Climate Sceptics, the Citizens’ Electoral Council and One Nation. Given what my personal ticket looks like, I can only approve of this arrangement.

Onto their policies. Continue reading

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Christian Democratic Party

Who better to write about on the Sabbath than The Christian Democratic Party? Formerly known as Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party, their website informs me that they are Pro-Christian, Pro-Family, Pro-Child and Pro-Life ‘for the benefit of all Australians’. Rather than rant extensively about what ‘all Australians’ means now, I’ll let them show you in their own words just how inclusive they are a little later.

For now, let’s start with their Senate Group Voting Ticket, where we learn that they give their first preferences to the DLP (see? Even the CDP think that the DLP are more scary-conservative than Family First), Family First and the Climate Change Sceptics, followed by the Liberal Party. As a supporter of the Godless Greens, I am amused to note that we are not *quite* at the bottom of the ballot – the Australian Sex Party holds that honour, and what an honour it is. Then we have some independents who I don’t yet know about, and both Socialist Parties. I’m surprised the radical independents didn’t get a lower billing, and this fills me with optimism about the two new independents here. I find it amusing, too, that the Secular Party are only just below the Labor Party, which one could, if desired, interpret as a dig against the Labor Party’s Godless ways (I have a feeling I’ll be using the word ‘Godless’ quite a lot in this post’). I choose to interpret it in this light, and like the Labor Party the better for it.

Continue reading

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Coalition (Liberal Party, National Party)

Yes indeed, it’s time for the Liberal Party / National Party Coalition. I’m going to state two things up-front here. First, I don’t much like this lot, and I particularly dislike Tony Abbott, and am discinlined to believe anything he says. He reminds me too much of Howard. Secondly, the Coalition is not going to get the same in-depth analysis that the smaller parties got. This is partly because most people in Australia know exactly who the Coalition parties are and what they stand for, and partly because I still can’t get the Liberal site to load in any reasonable fashion and when it does, it slows down my whole computer to a dreadful degree (either at home or at work when I tried to do this in my lunchbreak). And I can’t get the policy PDFs to download at all. The National Party pages, on the other hand, do load, and they have all their policies in one downloadable PDF.

So I’m sorry, Liberal Party of Australia. Much as I don’t like to do this, I’m going to have to base all my Coalition policy notions on what the Nationals say in their statement, because after 48 hours of trying, I have been unable to access a single policy from your website… though, strangely, accessing press statements about how incompetent Labor is has been fairly easy. I will leave analysis of this to the reader. If you want more information on Coalition and, for that matter, Labor policies and politicking, I can strongly recommend The Conscience Vote, a blog that covers all the election stuff that I’m really bad at, so well worth looking at.

As is traditional, we’re going to start with Senate Preferences. And the Liberals give theirs straight to Family First and the DLP, followed by the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers. Which appalls me, actually – I knew that the Coalition had moved ridiculously to the right but this is worse than I had imagined. The Greens precede Labour just after the halfway point on the ticket, and the CEC and One Nation are last of all. Sorry, I just have to pause for a moment to assimilate the fact that one of our major parties put the DLP, the CDP and the Shooters and Fishers in their top 16. My God.

Continue reading