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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Victorian Senate Group X: The Mystery Republicans

This is a bit interesting.  I can’t actually find any webpage for a political party called The Australian Republicans, which is going to make it a bit tricky to explore their policies in detail.  I have, however, found the lead candidate for Victoria, Peter Consandine, on the executive of a site for The Republican Party of Australia, which I’m going to presume is either the same party or a very closely-related group.  I’ve also found him writing about an Australian Republic on The Drum.  In lieu of better options, I will use these two resources to try to glean a sense of The Australian Republicans’ policies – if anyone reading this has better information, please do let me know.  I’m happy to come back and revise this post.

Edited to add – aha!  I’ve now discovered that the first of these sites does appear to be the main one, so I’ll let you read the article on The Drum yourselves, and just comment on the rest.

It turns out that the Australian Republicans also don’t have a group voting ticket.  I’m beginning to think that they are trying to make my life difficult on purpose, and will start blathering on about the Royal Baby any minute now out of sheer frustration.  But setting aside petty acrimony, let’s see what the other parties think of them instead.

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Victorian Senate Group V: They Call Him (Palmer) Mellow Yellow

Oh, my eyes.  Have you seen the Palmer United Party website?  Let’s just say that if the ALP has red for their colour, the Liberals blue, and the Greens, well, green, the Palmer United Party is definitely laying claim to yellow as their signature colour.  And by yellow, I actually mean YELLOW.  If you visit their site from the AEC page the first thing you see is this.  It’s the colour of raw highlighters.  It’s the sort of yellow that can re-set your body clock.  I can feel my melatonin levels dropping just having that page open on the side of my screen.

That will teach me to sneak a peek at their page before I even get to their Group Voting Ticket.  I actually know absolutely nothing about Palmer United, though I have deduced that it was founded by Clive Palmer – who is apparently Professor Clive Palmer (Business and Law at Deakin for those who were instantly curious), and Chairman of Mineralogy Australia, and whose background seems to cover a wide range of mineral resources.  So aside from having an inkling that this party may possibly be against the mineral resource rent  / mining tax, I have no pre-suppositions going into this particular post.

Incidentally, since I am doing this post back-to-back with Katter’s Australian Party, it seems worthwhile to mention that there was actually a debate between Bob Katter and Clive Palmer at the National Press Club on Monday – Marian Dalton, who is a friend of mine,  live-tweeted it, and you can see her comments here.  And if you like hanging around on the left side of politics I can also recommend her blog, The Conscience Vote, which is much more knowledgeable about what’s actually going on in politics than this one is…

The Group Voting Ticket is interesting and unexpected.  First preference goes to Family First, followed by the Motoring Enthusiasts, the Democrats, and Bullet Train for Australia, but then we get Australian Christian, the Australian Independents and the Greens.  Followed by the anarchists.  I have to say, I was not expecting to see the Greens this far up the ticket of a party founded by a mining magnate (in fact, I just had to scroll back up to the top of the ticket and check that I have the right one, but it turns out I really do).  We then get the Liberals and Nationals, a large number of tiny parties, and then, right near the bottom of the ticket we get the ALP.  The very bottom of the ticket is reserved for the Socialist Equality Party and five independents who I have not so far analysed.

Let’s investigate this painfully yellow website of theirs.  I’m honestly not trying to be mean here – I mean, here I sit, wearing a top that is in stripes of bright orange, fuchsia and magenta, so I’m really not one to complain about bright colours, but this yellow hurts my eyes.

Entering the website, I am invited to view a message from Clive Palmer.  I duly do so and discover a PDF download – on bright yellow paper, I might add – explaining that Australia’s debt is increasing at $3 billion every week and that Palmer United is going to turbo charge the Australian economy.  They will do this by releasing $70 billion into the economy so that people will buy things and create jobs.  They want to reduce income tax, get rid of Fringe Benefits Tax, make the first $10,000 of any home loan tax deductable, increase the old age pension, cut tax on second jobs and inject $80 billion into the health budget.

OK, first, I honestly don’t believe that our debt is increasing by $3 billion every week.  I think if it was, we would have been hearing about it incessantly from Tony Abbott by now, and he would have used the numbers.  Admittedly, I avoid listening to Tony Abbott, so I could have missed this. But even if I did, I still don’t buy it.  I suspect if everything was going down the drain at that rate there would be effects somewhere that even someone like me would notice them.

Secondly, while I absolutely agree that the best way to stimulate the economy is to put money into it for people to spend… is that really how you pay off massive debt?  As I have said in almost every one of these posts, I don’t understand economics, but this does sound illogical.

The website front page mostly wants to tell me that they are Bringing People Together and Reuniting The Nation, but it pauses in passing to mention that Palmer recently slammed Rudd’s naval manoeuvre, so clearly there are limits to this togetherness.  It also tells me that the Palmer United Party wants to abolish tertiary education fees.  Well, of course it does.  That’s what happens when you let academics write policies…

The Palmer United Policy page gives us a six-pronged vision, starting with saying that party officials should not be lobbyists.  They want to abolish the carbon tax, and point out that mineral wealth is awesome and we ought to have more of it and export it to create more revenue, jobs, tax and facilities.  They also want to establish “a system where people create wealth in various parts of the country and for that wealth to flow back to the Community that generates the wealth”.

Sucks to be you, Victoria.  Better get that clever economy up and running, because Western Australia and Queensland are about to clean up (and I’m not talking about the environment)…

They also want to revise the refugee policy to ‘ensure Australia is protected and refugees are given opportunities for a better future and lifestyle’.  This could mean anything.

Palmer United Party’s National Policy is another downloadable PDF.  Guess what colour it is?  No, not bright yellow, actually, though it is still definitely yellow.  This basically expands on these six principles.  I note that they want to get rid of the Carbon Tax retroactively, and refund people lost money.  Does that mean that people who benefited from the Carbon Tax will have to pay the government back?  Ah, but of course, nobody benefited from the Carbon Tax…

Aha!  Here’s the refugee policy, and this is the most novel way yet to stop the boats – by putting people on planes instead!

If a person seeking entry into Australia was allowed to board a plane for $800 to fly to one of our airports such as Sydney or Brisbane they wouldn’t need to pay the People Smugglers up to $20,000 for illegal entry to Australia. Any person would require their valid passport to board the flight, so when arriving at the immigration hall we would know who they are and where they came from. At the airport we could have the facilities to deal with them. Each person or family could be given a fair hearing at the airport facilities when they arrive to determine if they had a lawful right of entry into Australia. If they didn’t they could be returned to where they came from on the next flight. This would abolish the detention camps, restore our navy to its traditional role, save the lives of children and families, keep families together and recognise the legitimate rights of those that have a lawful reason for entering Australia. This policy would also reduce the risk of breeches in our quarantine and protect our agricultural industries.

This is so brilliant in its simplicity that I’m fairly certain it must be missing something significant.  Possibly the fact that if it were so easy for asylum seekers to get onto a plane to Australia, then they’d probably already be doing that?  After all, you can fly to Australia from pretty much anywhere in the world for not much more than $800, and it’s certainly safer and more comfortable than getting on a leaky boat from somewhere in southeast Asia.  So unless the Palmer United Party are putting together a system to get people on planes from southeast Asia, I believe there is a flaw in this plan.

If I wanted to be truly cynical, I would also have to wonder if in fact the entire point of this statement is to suggest that anyone who was a legitimate refugee and not trying to hide something would have a passport and therefore be able to get on a plane… which I’m not convinced is the case.

Next, we get on to a bunch of value statements.  They believe in lots of things, including Australia, freedom of thought, speech, association, worship and choice, and equality of opportunity.  They believe in Family.  (It doesn’t get a capital letter in their version, but it sounds like it deserves one).  They are into mutual obligation and voluntary organisations, and into the Government not competing with the private sector.  I’ll just bet.

They also believe in providing jobs from Australian resource wealth (what a shock), in reducing taxation – but not wasting taxpayer funds – and in ‘protecting the rights of children and mothers’, which is lovely, but seems like an awfully random thing to put on that list just there.  I suspect this is another one of those coded phrases, but I don’t know this particular code.

I am not going to comment on their lengthy essay on the Australian Way and on Governance, except to say that on my skim-read of it, it looked fairly reasonable.

Then we get more random policy things.  They have a section on work and prosperity which sounds good on the surface but does ring very quiet workchoices alarm bells for me.

  • encouraging workplace reform through promoting the shared interests of employers and employees in building efficient, cohesive, profitable and competitive enterprises and through breaking down centralised controls that have held back productivity and sustainable real wage growth;
  • ensuring that all have the choice to belong, or not, to unions and professional associations;

I realise that these statements don’t have to mean anything about collective bargaining and agreements, but I have a bad feeling about it.  They also talk about a taxation system which enhances incentives to work and save and promotes simplicity and consistency, which sounds a lot like a non-progressive tax (i.e., people with higher incomes paying the same proportion as people with lower incomes).

They are, however, in favour of transport and communications infrastructure and boosting innovation and technological  development, and they want to do more with apprenticeships and re-training and re-skilling for those who are long-term unemployed.

Palmer United’s education policy actually looks pretty good – they want ‘the widest possible freedom of choice in education… not just for the rich,’ and want to accommodate diversity in needs and aspirations (including the needs of gifted and talented children, and that’s the first time I’ve seen a policy that even mentions gifted kids, so one big tick to Palmer United for that), as well as offering financial assistance where needed.  I notice that there is no mention of a commitment to public schools, but I’m actually inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt here, as they do seem to be trying to be universal.

I’m going to stop here, because while there are a handful more policies, they are rather more general.  Also, I must admit, Palmer United is focusing on a lot of areas that I don’t have a great deal of knowledge of or interest in, so I’m not sure I can do this party justice.  From my limited understanding, however, I think a lot of their policies sound good in theory but don’t hold together.  If I had to choose between Palmer and Katter, it would be Katter any day.  I’m a bit astonished that Palmer United is running so many candidates this early in its existence, too. Though it must be useful to be a small party with a wealthy party leader…

I do like the education policies, though.

Victorian Senate Group V: Mad as a Katter?

I actually shouldn’t get too carried away making jokes about Katter’s Australian Party, because I haven’t even looked at their website yet – and the last vote compass thingie I filled in actually had me showing up as 40% Katter’s Australian Party, so I could well end up being the one who looks silly here.  Which wouldn’t be the first time.

Besides, the whole Kat in the Hat thing is just irresistible really.

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