Politics: Federal Election – Meet One Nation

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Australia’s most regrettably famous political party of all time: One Nation. Yes, that’s right, the party formerly headed up by Pauline Hanson, though she is conspicuously absent from their website.

And what a website it is. But I’ve refrained so far from mocking the web design skills of small right-wing parties (leftist nutcases seem to do better at this), and really, One Nation provides such lavish opportunity for mockery based on their policies that it would be churlish to start now.

One Nation is another one of those parties that, for some reason, no major party wants to put high on their ticket. You see, the one thing about One Nation that makes you love it just a tiny little bit in spite of yourself is the fact that its racism is so blatant, so unashamed, and yet so very Australian. There’s no attempt to disguise it, or make it look pretty or polite – it’s loud and proud and there is, perhaps, something to be said for having one’s racist dimwits so clearly labelled. It makes them easy to avoid, for one thing. But I digress. Nobody much wants to preference One Nation, but they have to send their preferences somewhere, and in this case, they send them to the DLP, the Climate Sceptics, and the Shooters and Fishers. Says it all, really. They eventually preference Family First and the Liberals, who probably wish they wouldn’t. The Greens, I am pleased to say, are dead last once again.

So what are these racist policies? I hear you ask.

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Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Building Australia Party

The next party on the ticket is a very new party indeed – so new, that Google can’t find their website with any of the obvious searches, and it took me five searches to even establish that they have one.

Fear not, gentle reader, I found it eventually. Let me introduce the Building Australia Party.

Can I just start by expressing my joy at a nice, new party without many policies? The Socialists and the CEC were bloody exhausting, not to mention the Greens and the Democrats. I’m developing a real appreciation for single-issue parties.

Their ticket is a bit confused – they start of with one person each from the DLP and the Liberal Democrats, then move on to the Carer’s Alliance, the Democrats, Senator On-Line, and the Shooters and Fishers. Eventually, they go via Family First to the ALP. At the bottom of the ticket – surprise! – is the CEC, with the Australian Sex Party, the Secular Party and One Nation also not feeling the love. I detect a rather old-fashioned, conservative Christian, Rotary-club-ish sort of party. But not quite such an egregiously right-wing Christian group as others we could mention.

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Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Citizens Electoral Council

I’m sure there’s a quote I remember about words like ‘democratic’, ‘people’s’ and ‘citizens’ in the name of a political party being almost guaranteed indicators that the party in question cared very little about democracy or about people.

Which brings us to The Citizens Electoral Council, and something tells me this party must be pretty bad, because absolutely nobody likes them. Labor and the Greens put them second last; Liberal and the Democrats put them dead last, Family First and the DLP put them only just higher than the Greens, and even the Shooters and Fishers and the Climate Sceptics put them down at slot 23-24, after Family First, making their preferencing pretty pointless.

The CEC preference Family First, which must be a little embarrassing, and then Senator On-Line (who, now I look at them, give the CEC one of their highest ratings, at 13-14 on the ticket) and the Climate Change Sceptics. Preferences eventually flow via almost all the tiny parties to the Liberals (which must be *really* embarrassing, though at least it’s pretty clear that there were no preference deals happening here), with the Greens and Labor holding the two bottom sets of slots on the ticket.

So, why does everyone hate the CEC? Continue reading

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Socialist Alliance

Pausing only to note that we have passed the halfway point on this seemingly endless journey through the smaller, crazier parties in Australian politices, it is my pleasure to introduce to you The Socialist Alliance, also known hereabouts as ‘please stop being on my side because you are making my side look like raving lunatics’. Though in this election there are so many candidates for this particular honour at both ends of the spectrum that I have a feeling the Socialists are going to wind up looking fairly sane by comparison.

Their Senate Group Voting Ticket is pretty much as you’d expect; preferencing the radical independents in Group B, then the Greens, the Sex Party and Labor. Bottom of the ticket are Building Australia, the CEC (coming up next), and finally One Nation. In fact, this is a pretty respectable ticket, and loony lefties could do worse than to vote above the line for this lot – especially since it is safe to assume they won’t be getting anyone into the Senate anyway.

But what are their policies, I hear you ask? Well, like many other small parties, the Socialist Alliance likes to have all its policies in individual PDFs, designed to drive me completely crazy. However, they also have the good manners to have a summary statement of their policies up front. My plan, therefore, is to look through the summary statement, and then download a few of their longer policies – hopefully a somewhat representative sample – in order to see whether detail is a good thing or a bad thing with this lot.

In brief, then, the Socialists do believe in climate change, and want “immediate and large-scale public investment for 100% renewable energy by 2020; fund by taxing the corporate polluters and billionaires; support a Resource Super Profits Tax as part of this process”. They want to tackle housing shortfalls with a community housing program, and reduce rents and mortgages to no more than 20% of income (definitely a policy that invites further inspection). Healthwise, like all my favourite parties, they want to boost funding for preventive healthcare and mental health, add dental care (have you noticed that dental care seems to be a big thing this election? I don’t recall anyone even mentioning it last time around.), legalise abortion, and stop subsidising private insurers. They also want better public transport, including a high-speed, intercity railway line, which I believe was also mentioned by several other parties including the climate change loonies, but I can’t remember because I have a cold and it is filling my head with cotton wool.

The socialists want to lift welfare payments above the poverty line and provide a living wage for full-tie students, and they call for job creation in housing, public transport and renewable energy. I think this is quite a smart policy, actually, so I’ll be looking into it in more depth. They want to boost funding to community based childcare and aged care networks, and expand disability services. Again, I’ll want more detail on this.

They want to repeal the Northern Territory intervention laws, and so they should, and they want to abolish racist welfare quarantining. I think I need to find out more about what this is, actually. And they want to close the the gap in Aboriginal health, education and housing by 2020.

On the international front, they want to ‘bring back all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan; isolate apartheid Israel; end ANZUS; boost development and climate change aid to poor countries.’ Um. I’m in favour of international aid and bringing back the troops – assuming we can do it without making more of a mess than we have already (I am anti-war and anti-those particular interventions; on the other hand, once you intervene in someone’s internal affairs, I think you have a responsibility to fix your messes before departing, and not leave them worse off. At the moment, I’m not convinced that’s where we are). I’m a bit more concerned about their policies on ANZUS and Israel; I have many issues with Israel’s policies, but also a degree of sympathy for Israel’s fears. I do think that whole corner of the middle east is an unholy mess, but I also think that there are no simple solutions, and that, in the long term, the only workable solutions are going to have to come from within, not from the outside. And I have no idea how you make that happen. But I’m not sure that quarantining will help, because Israel is quite paranoid enough already without being given reason to feel itself picked on.

Actually, on their detailed policy page, they also have an enormous number of policies regarding different countries, most of which amount to solidarity with the oppressed and a general call for the US to mind its own business in latin america, the middle east, and so forth. But they are not just anti-US; they also want Morocco out of the Western Sahara, and they want Australia to stop making treaties with Indonesia, since Indonesia has never actually prosecuted anyone over atrocities in East Timor. You can read the individual policies yourself, but they seem to be pretty consistent in tenor, and I’m torn between liking them and feeling that perhaps I need to visit the Amnesty International website before making any judgments, because I don’t *quite* trust this lot to be objective.

Not surprisingly, the socialists want to scrap all anti-union laws, and generally improve workers’ rights. They also want pay equity for women, and stronger laws against sexual harrassment

They want to close detention seekers and end deportations of asylum seekers, which is always going to make me happy, and in fact, they are really, really good on asylum seekers, so I’ll just quote you the opening part of their full policy:

1. End the Liberal and Labor bipartisan policy of keeping refugees out of Australia under the guise of attacking “people smuggling” and “border security”. Ending this policy would include the following measures:

1. Abolish the concept of a “safe third country” which is used to screen out those who would otherwise be assessed as refugees;
2. Return Christmas Island, Ashmore and Cartier islands and Cocos (Keeling) islands to Australia’s migration zone;
3. Immediately resettle all UNHCR-assessed refugees stranded in Indonesia and Malaysia, neither of which is a signatory to the UN refugee convention;
4. End the deals with the Indonesian, Malaysian and Sri Lankan governments to stop refugees coming to Australia under the guise of “stopping people smuggling”.

2. End the policy of mandatory detention, close all detention centres and free all asylum seekers imprisoned within them. Allow asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are being processed.

There’s more, but that was the part I wanted to hear most.

In a similar humanist vein, they want to scrap ‘anti-terror’ laws and adopt a bill of rights. Also, they are pro-gay marriage (and want to introduce a refugee category for those who are being persecuted based on their sexuality) and full rights for trans and intersex people, and interestingly, want to extend the right to vote down to the age of 16. In addition, they want to scrap ‘learn or earn’ (which I need to read more about, because this is not familiar to me), boost funding to youth services and wages, and make public education free to tertiary level.

OK, let’s go back to some of the more detailed policies, starting with Youth. And, oh dear, while I don’t think they really *mean* to say ‘we want to brainwash your children!’, I can’t help raising my eyebrows at the following:

…young people have the power to play a radicalising and explosive [!!!] role in the struggle for a better world and it is from them that the socialist movement and the Socialist Alliance will be strengthened and renewed.

As such, the Socialist Alliance seeks to involve young people in the struggle for socialism.

To this end, the Socialist Alliance recognises the importance of the socialist youth organisation and affiliate Resistance. As an independent youth organisation, Resistance plays a specific and complimentary role [Andrew thinks this means they sit around telling each other how cool they all are] in the struggle for socialism. It enables young people to work together and lead struggles around their own demands wherever these struggles take place, to acquire political and organisational responsibility and experience and learn their own lessons.

As such the Socialist Alliance is committed to working with and building Resistance among young people by:

# Discussing youth work on the Socialist Alliance leadership bodies;
# Collaborating with Resistance to work out initiatives, priorities and how we use our combined resources;
# Supporting and working closely with Resistance members to assist in their political development; and
# Encouraging Resistance members to join and get active in the Socialist Alliance

The trouble is, I do think it is important to get younger people interested and engaged in politics, for the very reasons the Socialist Alliance do – they do tend to be some of the first affected by government policies on education, housing, welfare, etc, and it is important to learn to stand up for your rights. But… I wouldn’t have phrased it quite like this. I think I’ll file this as ‘a sound policy, unfortunately worded’.

As for their policy on women – I’ve just read it through, and really, I don’t want to summarise it here because I can’t do it justice. It’s fabulous. I think it’s the best policy I’ve seen on any subject this election. It has everything I could want from a policy on women and several things I hadn’t thought of. Honestly, it makes me want to vote for them despite their rather scary views on international relations. Really, it’s gorgeous. Go read it, especially if you are female – I think it really raises the bar on what a policy on women should address.

I note also that they have a policy on the hijab that amounts to ‘the only people deciding whether muslim women should wear hijab are muslim women themselves’. They also condemn racism against people of middle-eastern appearance or muslim beliefs, and point out that the people who go on about how oppressive the hijab is to women are strangely silent on subjects like equal pay, sexual harrassment, or advertising that demeans women. I have to say, I opened their policy titled ‘hijab’ with some dread, but I think they have their heads screwed on straight on this one.

Their policy on Indigenous Australians is, I think, very nearly as good as the one on women – I’m less able to judge it, being less educated on the subject. It lays out the history of white/immigrant Australia’s treatment of the Aboriginal population, and then moves forward into what needs to be done. Among other things, they want to roll back the Howard Government’s NT intervention, and replace it with the *actual* recommendations from the Little Children are Sacred report, the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory Emergency Response and Development Plan, as well as the recommendations in the 1997 HREOC Social Justice Report. Unsurprisingly, they are opposed to the paternalistic approach to Aboriginal welfare generally, and call for indigenous community involvement in education, health, and housing issues. They also want to ‘repeal the Native Title Act, abolish all racist land laws and renegotiate Indigenous Land Rights as part of a constitutionally entrenched Treaty, binding on Federal and State governments’. Perhaps the best summary paragraph is this:

Funding for programs that have been shown to reduce social and economic disadvantage must be kept up and increased. Any real plan to achieve social and economic equality for Indigenous people must include the following measures, developed and overseen by the appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. Aboriginal control over the administration of Aboriginal affairs must be the practice, not just on paper.

I feel bad about not writing more about their housing policy, which is really very interesting, and I’ve now linked to it above, but I don’t really have the knowledge to analyse it usefully. I will say, the Socialist Alliance goes into a lot of detail in all the policies of theirs which I have read, and includes both the principles / history behind them and the actions – both short- and long-term in some cases – which they would like to take. I think they have matured a bit since the last election, and are verging on being people I’d vote for. Maybe in another 3 years? On the other hand, I see very little evidence of costings or financial thinking here; while they aren’t throwing lump payments of money around like Family First, they do want to undertake a lot of expensive projects, and I’m not sure how these would be paid for. Once again, though, I’d be happy to see them being the voice of idealism in the Senate, even though I’m not sure I’d want them forming a government quite yet.

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Climate Change Sceptics

Though not in quite the way they intend, I fear. Meet The Climate Change Sceptics – self-described as ‘The World’s First Political Party Representing Scepticism and Objectivity in Climate Policy’.

Scepticism and objectivity are big words, as anyone working in science will know. Let’s find out how objective they really are…

First, let’s look at their Senate Group Ticket, on which you will be astonished to learn that the Greens are lucky last. In fact, they favour Family First and the DLP, which is not surprising from a group that talks about ‘a Christian perspective on climate change’ (something tells me, however, that most of the Christians I know would not share this perspective). One Nation, the Liberal Democratic Party, and the Christian Democratic Party also do well, and their preferences eventually flow to the Liberals. Very much a libertarian, right-wing Christian ticket, with a side order of complete raving nutbar.

Now, to their policies.

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Politics: Federal Election – Let’s Talk about (the Australian) Sex (Party), Baby!

Don’t tell me this isn’t the party you’ve been waiting for. I can already *feel* the bad puns forming. In fact, I’m feeling so overwhelmed by the sheer, uncensored number of potential bad sex jokes I could get into this post (as it were), that I don’t even know where to start.

The Australian Sex Party is not, as you might think, a joke party, though it is definitely a party with a sense of humour. Nor is their site completely un-worksafe, though it definitely contains more nudity than your average political website. Their slogans range from the reasonably sane ‘Protecting your personal freedoms and sexual rights’ to the slightly sillier tag-line ‘Australian Sex Party – where you come first’. And the mouse over text is ‘we’re serious about sex’, just in case you hadn’t figured that part out.

Oh, I can’t help myself. Just insert an appropriately inappropriate joke about members of parliament here. Bonus points if you use the word ‘turgid’, which, is a word that goes with both masculine members and political debates nearly as well as whipped cream goes with… never mind. I’m done now. Maybe.

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Politics: Australian Election – Meet the Australian Shooters and Fishers Party

For some reason I want to write this entire post in ArrrrrrPirate speech, me hearties! Which is inappropriate, because there is nothing amusing about the Australian Shooters and Fishers Party.

Where do I even start?

They like guns. And fishing. And they don’t want any of those hippie peacenik enviro-fascist types getting in the way of their fun.

Their Senate ticket is pretty much what you’d expect. Right wing parties up top and Greens dead last, though they have cherry-picked their way through the major parties and put everyone in the order they prefer. Stephen Conroy, for example, is the only ALP member to make their top ten. He’s in the rather unfortunate company of the Christian Democratic Party, one Family Firster, some Liberals and one of the DLP chaps. Actually, preferences are alternating a bit between Labor and Liberal, so it’s a bit hard to know where they will go in the end. If I got my preferences from this lot, though, I wouldn’t be admitting it.

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Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Australian Democrats

And I yearn for Cheryl Kernot… Democrat!

Actually, I gather that she’s running as an independent this time around, though sadly not in Victoria, but this doesn’t stop my brain’s almost Pavlovian response to any mention of the Australian Democrats with a rousing chorus of ‘My Heart’s in Peril, Cheryl!’.

Still, I’m looking forward to a little bit of sanity in this particular set of policies (and no GST). I admit to a certain fondness for the Democrats, and a certain sympathy – not to mention my feeling that, as a good conservationist, it is my duty to vote for an endangered species, which the Australian Democrats certainly are…

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Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Democratic Labor Party

Moving along the ticket, we come to that hardy perennial, the Democratic Labor Party.

When I first encountered the DLP, two elections ago, I think, I was rather boggled by their combination of really nice, sensible social justice policies, and their hair-raisingly, frothing-at-the-mouth reactionary policies on matters such as homosexuality and feminism. I was informed by the more knowledgeable that they were actually the Catholic spin-off from the Labor party back in the 1970s. This does make a certain amount of sense of their weirder ways, but I still find it a bit mind-boggling.

Anyway, let’s see what they have for us this time…

As is traditional, we will start with their Senate ticket. I regret to say that they preference the Christian Democratic Party ahead of anyone else, and also give the Shooters and Fishers high priority. After that, it looks to me as though they are cherry-picking from all over the ballot, but leaning mostly towards the right – one member from the Carer’s Alliance, one from One Nation, one from Building Australia, a Climate Change Sceptic, and so forth. One lone liberal lurks near the top, above the Family First bloc; Antony Thow of the ALP gets surprisingly high billing (inclining me to be very suspicious of the honorable Antony), but on the whole, their preferences look like they will end up with the coalition. You will be unsurprised to learn that they particularly dislike the Secular Party, the Sex Party and the assorted communists. The Liberal Democrats also get no love, which is interesting, because I’m sure I’d been told that they were pretty much the same as the DLP. Maybe that’s the problem…

Their policies are headed up by the fun stuff: the DLP wants to protect marriage, which in this case means absolutely no gay marriage, or even civil partnerships, no adoption by gay couples and (though they skirt around this a bit) no no-fault divorce. Apparently, divorce is too easy, and this is harmful to children.

I probably shouldn’t start off by being sarcastic, but I’d like to note that the paragraph about defending marriage from those nasty gay people occurs straight after the following introduction:

Legislative measures that will uphold and protect the inalienable and fundamental rights of every person – to life, to the essential liberties of conscience, to equal treatment under the law, to the ownership of property and to a livelihood that enhances the dignity and security of each person

I’m guessing that they don’t view homosexuals as people. The jury’s out on whether women get to be people, but I have my doubts.

Oh, here we go. Women who stay at home to look after the kids should not be disadvantaged. Good show. Also, “We believe that women should have a true choice about whether or not to work at home with their children or to go outside the home for other work. A real choice would mean that women should not be forced into institutional paid work because of financial necessity. A reorganization of the tax system (including income-splitting for example,) would go some way to providing financial fairness when making such decisions.”

I mostly like this, and I’d be very interested to see how this tax system would work, except… is it just me, or is there an implication here that women would only choose not to stay at home with the children through financial necessity (it’s a true choice, you understand, but there is only one *right* choice)? Though I do give them points for the phrase ‘work at home with their children’, which acknowledges that childcare *is* work in its own right. Similar language is used in their policy on childcare – the assumption is that women would, if possible, choose to stay home with their children, and they want to establish financial equality for families where this occurs (with an early education care benefit).

It goes without saying that the DLP is anti-abortion (which should be criminalised if it isn’t already, and prosecuted), anti-euthanasia (but pro- increased palliative care funding), and anti-embryonic stem cell research. In fact, they want to establish an office called the Advocate for the Unborn Child.

I have to say, this does give me the chills ever so slightly.

Under ‘Constitution and Democratic Rights’, their first policy is about protecting the right to peaceful protest. I approve of this. They also have a lot of policies that amount to decreasing public money spent on electoral advertising or elections generally, something which I can also get behind (especially given the quality of the ads). They want to protect Constitutional checks and balances, and to bring back the Upper House in all states (DLP is largely based in QLD, in case you couldn’t tell), and they want referendums on *everything*.

They also want to ban ‘how to vote’ cards and posters within 400 metres of polling places. I’m not sure what I think of this, or how it would play out; my gut feeling is this would affect the smaller parties – of which the DLP is one – more negatively than the larger ones.

On the other hand, they advocate ‘vigilance against proposals for a Bill of Rights’, and I just can’t think of any good justification for that. They also want to remove the powers of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which again fills me with doom. In fact, at this point, they have officially become scarier than Family First in my book, largely because they seem to have thought things through *far too well*.

Oh, and hello, they want to abolish the Federal Government in favour of State Governments (I thought only the USA went in for States’ Rights), and also they want out of the UN.

And, just for kicks, they want to protect the flag. I find this fairly entertaining, because Australia really doesn’t go in for USA-style patriotism, and that’s what this sounds like.

They have policies about water conservation which sound OK, except when they randomly go off about not liking privatisation or globalisation – mind you, I do tend to agree with them, but I don’t see how this relates to water conservation.

Globalisation returns in their policy about Finance and Trade. They still don’t like it. In fact, they advocate “Opposition to “globalism” as foreign interference in our social, legal and economic decision-making by supranational bureaucracies and cartels”. Tone-wise, this sounds eerily like the Communist rhetoric from the SEP. Actually, I don’t understand very much of their finance and trade policy. I suspect this is because it doesn’t make sense but perhaps it is actually because I am only a woman and really would rather be staying home looking after my children and letting wiser, male, heads run things.

Yeah, I’ve kind of taken against this lot…

Oh, and they want to establish a Federal Development Bank (apparently, Federal programs do have some uses after all), which sounds like an interesting idea, except that I am now ideologically opposed to anything they say just on principle.

Actually, I take it back – they seem to be opposed to off-shore processing of refugees, because they think that East Timor has enough problems without adding in refugees. But I’m not sure what they think we *should* be doing with refugees, and I suspect I wouldn’t like it anyway.

This lot have definitely moved further to the right in the last six years – back then, they had a whole slew of policies on things like disability and refugees and carers and I think even education which I actually liked (and which have since totally disappeared). Now, they seem to have become more insular, verging on paranoia about the corrupt outside world, and their anti-gay rhetoric is right up front and centre (if you know what I mean, and I think you do).

I don’t like them one bit.

Politics: Federal Election – Meet Senator On-Line

Yeah, I know it’s 11pm, but given Senator On-Line‘s platform, I don’t think it’s going to take me that long to discuss their policies. Never mind representative democracy, Senator On-Line wants you to have your say on every issue of the day:

Not aligned with any other organisation, Senator Online (SOL) is non profit and an Australian registered political party.

This is the pre election website. SOL’s post election website will enable everyone on Australia’s Electoral Roll to vote (free) on important issues and every Bill put to Parliament, with SOL senators voting as you (the majority) direct.

Democracy through Technology

Using the internet we can return to a system of representation that reflects your true positions on important issues. It’s a revolution — taking back power from the politicians, special interest and lobby groups and putting it back where it belongs: In your hands – Now We Can!

That’s right, the country is going to be run by Usenet trolls! Or possibly LoLcats (O hai, I can haz direct democracy plz?)

This conveniently lets the party out of actually having to come up with any policies while, if elected, drawing a Senatorial salary. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Before you accuse me of unfairness, let’s have a look at their Senate preferences:

Senator online, Democrats, Carer’s Alliance, Liberal Democratic Party (oh dear), Building Australia, The Climate Sceptics (oh *dear*), Citizens’ Electoral Council (not even Family First like this lot, if you recall), Family First, Australian Sex Party (schizophrenic, much?), Independents from Crikey.com, Family First again, Democratic Labor Party, Christian Democratic Party, Secular Party (yep, definitely political whiplash occurring), Socialist Equality Party, One Nation, Socialist Alliance, yet more Family First, Shooters and Fishers, more assorted independents, and – huzzah! – the ALP. And then Liberal and then the Greens.

Basically, they’ve put all the little parties in a somewhat random, yet strangely unappealing order, ahead of all the larger parties, favouring the ALP and putting the Greens last of all. Andrew and I have been speculating on exactly what they were thinking with this ticket, but have come up with no answers that aren’t actively insulting.

I think this group has actually managed to drop below Family First in my preference list. Family First, at least, stands for something. Not something nice, I’ll grant you, but something. This lot appear to be cynical opportunistts, possibly trying to ride off the popularity of GetUp. And I am not impressed.