Meet the Small Parties: Shooters and Fishers Party

The Shooters & Fishers Party is here to protect your freedoms and he future of outdoor sports.  Their website is rather NSW-centric  – they have a lot of information about the NSW election in 2015, including specific policies, but nothing whatsoever for the Victorian election.  I am not feeling the love, here.  The S&F does, however, have a FaceBook page for their Victorian branch, which they are mostly using to introduce their members, and to tell us how to vote.  I’ll be looking at their Federal Policies, or at least those that are relevant to Victoria, but in one sense, it doesn’t matter too much.  The Shooters and Fishers are precisely what it says on the box – a party for people who like hunting, fishing and outdoor sports:

S&F is the voice of hunters, shooters, fishers, rural and regional Australia and independent thinking Australians everywhere. Advocating for the politically incorrect, a voice of reason, science and conservation.  S&F is about sustainable utilisation of Australia’s resources. Conservative in family values, we honour and value the family unit as the basic building block of our society. We believe in a fair go for all, but not at the expense of others.  S&F respects and honours our democratic traditions and those in our history who fought and died for us so that we may enjoy the freedoms that we now have. S&F believes in a multicultural society, committed to Australian values above all others.

I love ‘independent thinking Australians everywhere’.  S&F have clearly not been taken in by those leftist-controlled Universities, no, not them!  I’m also quite partial to the bit about advocating for the politically-incorrect.  The right to offend people is such an important one…

Seriously, though, with this statement, S&F places itself very firmly on the conservative, right-wing end of the political system.  It has it all – family values, respect for the military, and multiculturalism, provided you are a good Aussie about it.  You know where you stand with this lot.

On their front page, S&F has a rotating header, which really is about NSW, but is still indicative of their priorities.  The three banners are: “Safeguarding the environment – simply locking up the landscape isn’t enough.  Biodiversity conservation demands a new fresh approach”, “Society and service delivery – city-centric government has neglected regional NSW and those who love the outdoors for too long”, and “Fair recreational access – we’ll fight for greater access to all public land and waters in NSW”.

So we have another party that very much aligns itself with rural Australia.  It’s a pity they have forgotten about Victoria – such a missed opportunity to join in the general courtship of Gippsland…

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Meet the Small Parties: Rise Up Australia Party

Look, there’s one thing you can say for Rise Up Australia.  They may not be a pleasant bunch, but you do know exactly where you stand with them.  Their front page highlights their slogan “Keep Australia Australian!”, and we are assured that Rise Up Australia Party is for people from all ethnic backgrounds who call Australia home, who value our freedoms and who want to protect our Australian culture and way of life”.

So they are obviously not racist, because you can be of any ethnic background.

Currently on their front page is a press release “Faith leaders unite to protect life, faith and moral values”, which they tell us that Daniel Nalliah, their president, is one of the first party leaders publicly to endores “a statement by the eminent leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths identifying the four crucial moral issues in the Victorian State election.

“Rabbi Shimon Cowen, Bishop Peter Elliott and Imam Riad Galil say in their statement that The Victorian law permitting abortion without anaesthetic until birth is the worst abortion law in the world. The UN-sponsored Safe School’s programme to promote homosexuality in schools under the guise of preventing bullying is an attack on the freedom of parents to have children raised according to the values of their faith. Labor’s proposal to force religious schools to employ staff who do not share the school’s religious faith attacks the freedom and integrity of religious institutions. All parents are entitled to obtain a religious education for their children but that neither of the major parties has announced a commitment to fulfilment of this need.”

I’m very excited to learn that we now have one eminent leader of the Christian faith (and one each for the Muslim and Jewish faiths) in Australia, and that he is Catholic.  It’s so nice to know that the One True Church has decided to embrace all of us Protestant heretics and bring us back to the fold…

And of course it would have to be Bishop Elliott, too.  As it happens, I have sat through several religious services conducted by Father Elliott.  My fellow choristers and I used to try to predict in advance whether today would be the day he was insulting to atheists, or perhaps the day he was insulting to women, or maybe even the day when he told us about how all Christians are peaceful, unlike those awful Muslims.  There was a scoring system.  It’s nice to see that he has at least found common cause with one Muslim, even if it is in this cause.

Suffice it to say that I am not even slightly surprised that he has found common cause with Rise Up Australia, a party who has never met a right-wing religious policy they didn’t like.

(I’ll leave it to members of the Jewish or Muslim faiths to comment on Rabbi Cowen or Imam Galil.  I’m guessing they are cut from a similar cloth.)

As for the four crucial moral issues, well, interestingly, the actual statement doesn’t say anything about abortion without anaesthetic until birth, possibly because that’s not the actual law in Victoria – I’ve been looking, and have found absolutely no evidence one way or the other, though I have discovered that actually getting a late-term abortion is no easier than it was before it was legalised – but it’s much more emotive and thus more fun.  Anyway, no surprises here.

The bit where preventing bullying is promoting homosexuality is – well, it’s a moral issue, alright, but not the one they think it is.  Parents may have the freedom to raise children according to their values, but children should also have the freedom not to be bullied at school because they happen to be gay, or because someone thinks they might be.  To my mind, a child’s right to not be bullied trumps a parent’s right to dictate what the school teaches. If you are a parent, you have mornings and evenings and weekends and holidays in which to instil your values into your child.  If that isn’t working, it’s not the fault of the school.

As for the right to discriminate when hiring staff, honestly, I feel less strongly about that.  And while I agree that parents are entitled to obtain a religious education for their child, I don’t see why that is something the government should pay for in a secular country.

(And has Rise Up Australia really thought this through?  I imagine that Bishop Elliott, for all that I find his particular flavour of Catholicism obnoxious, does, in fact, approve of the existence of Muslim schools in Australia, but I’d be very, very surprised if Rise Up Australia does.)

So much for the front page.  Let’s move on to the Group Voting Ticket, pausing only to note in passing that Rise Up Australia is another political party with a song.  It’s awful.  If this were Eurovision, I’d be giving Jeff Bartram douze points, the Basics Rock and Roll Party ten points, and Rise Up Australia nul points.  This isn’t about ideology, even.  My objection is 100% aesthetic.

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Meet the Small Parties: People Power Victoria – No Smart Meters

I have a confession to make.  I have been looking forward to writing about People Power – No Smart Meters for days.  Days, I tell you.  Not only do they have a name that screams ‘Ludicrous single issue party ahoy!’, but my preliminary glance at their website a couple of weeks back led me to the delicious realisation that they have drunk from the Well of Crazy, and lo, it has become a fountain, raining blessings over the entire Legislative Council Ballot Paper.  Which might explain why so many parties have given them such high preferences.

But, OK, it was only a quick glance, and I don’t want to pre-judge.  Maybe it will turn out that they really do have some sensible policies in the mix.  Maybe there really is something to fear from Smart Meters.  Maybe all my evil, sarcastic hopes are merely a reflection of my bitter, twisted soul.

We shall see.

Let’s start by looking at their Mission:

Our mission is to reclaim our state and set it on a new and better path.

This new political party for Victoria is centred on respect for human rights, the opposition to the mandated roll-out of wireless smart meters for electricity, gas and water, and on the commitment to re-establish a healthy environment for all.

The People Power Victoria – No Smart Meters party (PPV) also stands for fair and affordable delivery of essential services to all Victorians, safe homes and workplaces, consumer protection and a safer, more ethical use of technology.

The privatization and deregulation of the State electricity, gas and water supply has resulted in unaffordable rising costs for customers.

It is time to raise the call for the return of these essential services to public ownership.

You know, if you just took out that sentence about smart meters, that would sound fantastic.  Well, actually, I probably would still be looking a little dubious about ‘safer, more ethical use of technology’ because this sounds a little bit like ‘we don’t trust science’, but never mind that.  Aside from their fixation on Smart Meters, it’s a nice, somewhat left-wing, socially-oriented set of priorities.

Continuing on with the good, I’d also like to note that this is a nice, easy-to-navigate, well-organised website.  I’m learning to appreciate such things.

Yes, yes, I hear you say, but what’s with the Smart Meters?

A good question. Because I’m a tease, I’m not going to answer that quite yet.  Instead, I’m going to look at their Group Voting Tickets, which are an absolute mess.

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Meet the Small Parties: Palmer United Party

One might be forgiven for looking at the Palmer United Party with a somewhat jaundiced eyes.  Quite apart from the blinding yellowness of his site, there was the not-entirely-unpredictable backflip on the Emissions Trading Scheme, and then there is Jacquie Lambie.  It’s a little difficult not to view the Palmer United Party as a buttercup-coloured consortium of loose cannons.

Their web-page, which, just in case you haven’t grasped this yet, is yellow, yellow, yellow (a single iteration of this word is not sufficient to express just how yellow it is.  I like yellow, but not in these quantities.), invites us to Visit Victorian Candidates, so we shall.  And here we are told “It’s not the Liberal way or the Labor way, but the Right way.”  We are then told that they stand for four things:

  • Supporting local regions
  • Restoring integrity to government
  • Providing strong economic leadership
  • Connecting the Balance of Power to Victoria

I especially like the last one, because it sounds like the Balance of Power is some sort of infrastructure thing and we’re off the grid.  That’s us, the hippy Victorians, living off the grid with only the Greens and a rather scary Independent balancing the powers for us.  Clearly, we need to be rescued by a knight on a bright yellow charger.

We’ll come back to their policies and press releases in a moment – though I will say that these are a bit random – individual candidates have their press releases listed under them, and some have five and some have none, it’s a mess and not a good way to list your policies – and instead look at the PUP’s group ticket.

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Meet the (not so) Small Parties: National Party of Australia

Sometimes, I feel a bit sad for the National Party of Australia.  As the smaller half of the Coalition – the country cousin, you might say – they do seem to get the short end of the stick in Government with the Liberal Party.  While lip-service is paid by the Coalition to the needs of rural and regional Australians, it seems, at least to me, that the Nationals don’t tend to see many of their policies put into practice.  I’m not entirely sure what is in this Coalition for them – but perhaps even minor influence is better than no influence at all?

As the Nationals are fairly well-known to the Australian public, I’ll keep this post short and sweet, and just focus on the policies they’ve highlighted for the coming election.  I’ve talked about the Coalition’s preferences on my Liberal Party write-up, so rather than go through the same tickets again, I’ll simply note that yes, they really did put the Greens last, after Labor, and that the Coalition has tended to preference the religious right, the Shooters and Fishers, and the Country Alliance high on their ballot paper.

The Nationals’ Victorian website simply has the slogan “For Regional Victoria”, and the main thing you see on arrival is an invitation to join the party “If you’re passionate about the future of regional Victoria”.

Scrolling down, there are how to vote cards and information about the team, a link to ‘OUr Plan for a Better Victoria”, and then “Our Stories”, which appears to be the four major policy platforms for this election.  And there is a bit ‘Get Involved’ banner, soliciting for members, volunteers and donations.  I have to say, this banner makes me feel sad again – such eagerness for people to *care* is a hallmark of the smaller parties – and the Nationals seem to be falling back into that category.

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Meet the Small Parties: Liberal Democratic Party

Next cab off the rank is the Liberal Democratic Party, a party which I always rather dread reviewing, because they are so good at making me angry.  The LDP recently gained their first Senate seat through a combination of canny preference trading and a lucky ballot paper draw, which put them in Column A, where many people mistook them for the similarly-named Liberal Party (and yes, there are people who genuinely voted for them, but their primary vote went up by something like a factor of ten, and I don’t think this was due to a sudden philosophical epiphany on the part of this portion of the electorate), so lucky us, we now have a voice for ‘classical liberalism’, also known as libertarianism, in Parliament.

But what does this mean?  Well, as it happens, the LDP has created a  video, available on the front page of their website, that sets out very clearly what they stand for and why.  If you’ve ever wondered what libertarianism is about, it’s actually a very good introduction, I think.  I think they do a particularly good job of pointing out that libertarianism isn’t really about being on the right or left side of politics – it sits on a different axis.

The short version, for those who don’t have time for videos, is that the LDP views the government as having no right to interfere with the liberty of individuals, in their work, economic, or private life, and they really don’t like taxation, which they view as the government deciding how to spend your money for you.  They make the quite perceptive point that the Liberal Party tends to be in favour of economic freedom, but is inclined to intervene in one’s personal liberties, while the Labour Party tends to be in favour of personal freedom, while being more restrictive about economic matters.  And their philosophy is that both of these things are bad – perhaps even equally bad, since they talk about government interference on one’s ‘home, one’s body and one’s wallet’.

And this is where I part company from them, because I feel that these things are qualitatively quite different – and I’m also a believer in the social contract, the idea that people are responsible for each other, and not just themselves, that sometimes our right to personal freedoms are outweighed by the rights of others to live in peace and safety… and while I would not go so far as to say that the LDP disagree with this, they definitely draw the line a lot further away than I would.

But before I get my rant on, let’s have a quick ogle of the Group Voting Tickets, and see what the LDP thinks of the other political parties.

Unsurprisingly, the LDP is fond of parties like the Shooters and Fishers, Voluntary Euthanasia, and the Sex Party, all of whom are fairly big on individual liberty.  These parties are found in their top five in nearly every electorate.  They also like People Power, possibly because People Power seems to view smart meters as a civil liberties issue (I know.  I don’t get it either.), and they quite like the Country Party.  What’s more of a surprise is the high preference given to Family First, Rise Up Australia, and particularly the DLP, which is in the top five on all but one ticket.  We have already seen that Family First are economic rationalists, and Rise Up Australia is big on their constitutional right to be bigots, but DLP is a bit of a puzzler.  While I don’t like the DLP much more than I like the LDP, they are pretty big on getting the government to impose their values on others, which is a long way from the values the LDP espouses.  I suspect a purely tactical preference swap, here.

The Liberals are preferenced ahead of Labor in five of the eight regions, but both parties are plaecd near the bottom of the ticket, just above Palmer United, the Greens and the Animal Justice Party.  The Basics Rock and Roll Party get to join this happy band in Northern Metropolitan.  One gets the idea that they are making a point about Labor and Liberal being much the same.  I’m not precisely sure what Palmer United did to annoy them, however – but let’s face it, Palmer United have been doing a fine job of annoying many, many people recently.  I’m sure there’s something.
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Meet the (not so) Small Parties: Liberal Party of Australia

I’m going to apologise up front for any typos in this post, which is being typed on my phone as I sit on a tram in between singing commitments. Alas, politics does not stop for singing – and I fear that the Liberal Party is not one which inspires me to joyful song.

Like the ALP, the Liberal Party is, I think, fairly well-known to voters, so I will just glance at the policies highlighted on their front page before moving on to their preferences.

The Victorian Liberal Party’s home page tells us that they are “Building a better Victoria”, with  “strong plans to deliver growth, jobs as opportunities”. We are informed that this involves a stronger economy, a world class and integrated transport network (east-west link somehow stays off the front page), 21st century hospitals and schools, and stronger and safer communities.

They make a big thing about an integrated public transport system (and new roads, but they do not highlight this), inclding the airport rail link, and talk about upgrading schools and the health system.

Do they honestly think people will believe them about public transport? I, for one am, having a lot of difficulty taking this seriously.

On to the all-important group voting ticket. The Liberal Party made a great song and dance about putting Labor ahead of the Greens in all their lower house seats, and this seems to have been a promise they have. Kept in the Upper House, too. In fact, they have put the Greens dead last on every ticket, directly after Rise Up Australia. Ouch.

Other parties in the naughty corner are the Animal Justice Party, Voluntary Euthanasia, the Labor Party, and the Cyclists.

So, what sort of parties do the Liberals  like? Well, the Nationals, obviously.  In the rural regions, the Shooters and Fishers get second preference, and they are in the top five everywhere, which is interesting, given that in fact it was the Liberal Party who brought in our strict gun laws (and good for them, frankly).  Other than that, they are preferencing Family First and the Australian Christians first in their metropolitan regions, and they also appear in the tip five everywhere. Interestingly, they do not send preferences to the DLP, and of course they can’t possibly preference Rise Up Australia – they are almost as bad as the Greens!

The Country Alliance, People Power and the LDP are also highly favoured.

Overall, then, there are no real surprises, but it seems to me that they are being more overt in their preference for the religious right.

Lets face it, I was never going to advise you to vote for the Liberals – but I would say that if you are an economic rationalist but also an atheist, you might want to consider voting below the line this time…


Note on Pascoe Vale

The Liberal Party Candidate for Pascoe Vale is Jacqueline Khoo, who apparently understands the need for cheaper and safer public transport, and tells us that only the Napthine Government will reduce the cost of Zone 1 and 2 tickets to that of a Zone 1.  Again, she’s a long-shot candidate – in some parts of Pascoe Vale, the Greens out-poll the Liberals.  She agreed to be interviewed by the Leader, but pulled out the day before, saying that she was too busy.  On her How To Vote Card, she preferences Family First, Independent Francesco Timpano and then Labor, placing the Greens last, behind the Socialist Alliance.  Even the Reds are less dangerous than the Greens, evidently.

Meet the Small(er) Parties: Family First

And now the Festival of Ungrouped Independents comes to a close, and we return our attention to parties that actually have a chance of being elected.  God help us all.  Quite literally in this case, because the next party in my Carnival of Tiny Parties is the right-wing Christian party, Family First.

Family First’s slogan is “Strong Families.  Strong Values.  Strong Australia.”

(you have no idea how much I want to parody this slogan.)

They then unpack this slogan to explain to us that “A job, a home, your finances under control, a safe neighbourhood to live in, a secure retirement and a few of life’s small pleasures… contribute to healthy families”.  And when they say families, they are talking about extended families.  But probably not gay families.

We are told that values are the foundation of a nation, with the values in question including “telling the truth, living within your means, hard work, respect, courtesy, compassion, courage, generosity”.  Lots of good, conservative values there, with just a teensy bit of potential for judgment (living within your means, for example, sounds good until you’ve been so poor that your income simply does not cover rent, food and bills any more – and then it just becomes a judgment on why didn’t you plan better).

Under Strong Australia, we start with this:

Anything not based on economic reality is doomed to failure. Whether it’s farming, mining, tourism or small business, it is a truism that capital goes where it is made welcome and stays where it gets looked after. 

Definitely positioning themselves as a voice of economic rationalism here, I would think.  I worry a bit about capital going where it is made welcome – this can become an argument for lower wages awfully easily.  To do them justice, Family First does at least pay lip service to a need to understand “how ‘barriers to entry’ to getting a job causes unemployment.”

So we have the introduction to our themes, but before we hear the entire symphony, let us take a brief pause to find out what Family First thinks of the other instruments in the orchestra.  Preferably before my metaphor gets completely out of control (I’m doing a lot of singing this weekend, and it’s taking over my brain…).

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Meet the Independents: Tiffany HARRISON (Ungrouped, Northern Metropolitan)

I’ve been saving ungrouped Independent Tiffany Harrison for last, because she’s in my home region of Northern Metropolitan, and also because I wanted a nice, bracing dose of left-wing goodness (or even left-wing loopiness, I’m not pre-judging here, except about the left-wing bit) before diving back into my parade of right wing political parties.

As it happens, Ms Harrison is really only technically an independent.  She is a member of Save the Planet, and is representing them as a candidate, although they are not registered as a party in this election.  If I recall correctly, this is the second election in which they have run candidates as independents – they seem to be having difficulties reaching their minimum requirement of 500 members.

Because Ms Harrison’s own FaceBook page states that she is running as a Save the Planet candidate, I think it’s appropriate to look at this party’s policies as a representation of what she believes and will stand for.

Save the Planet’s home page informs me that:

Save the Planet is a new political party and community campaign focused on reversing  global warming, creating a safe climate and providing real leadership in the climate emergency.

On their home page and FAQ page they state quite clearly that they “will not be distracted by issues unrelated to the building of a safe-climate-restoring economy, done at emergency speed”.  While they acknowledge that the Greens and Socialist Alliance have some good policies, Save the Planet views them as too distracted by social policies that ‘dilute’ their focus on the climate emergency.

The purpose of the Save the Planet Party is to campaign so effectively on our core goals that we make it a political necessity for all other major parties including the Greens to lift their environmental policies and performance to match our position. It then will be possible to build a safe-climate-restoring economy in Australia at emergency speed. We can do this through public education and using political leverage at elections.

Further down, they add:

We have deliberately restricted Save the Planet’s policies to a limited focus around key issues on climate change with the hope that we can attract wide support for emergency speed action to restore a safe climate. All candidates have agreed to our purpose and goals which include the creation of a world that is environmentally and socially sustainable and working to eliminate high levels of inequality.  Candidates also have to pass a good character test which includes not being racist or sexist. In the context of these constraints, on any other policy issue, a Save the Planet candidate is effectively an independent and you would need to ask their personal views.

So, essentially, we have a party that makes no bones about being a single issue party, because they view that issue as the paramount emergency of our time.  But… without actually having concrete policies on other issues, they do actually have some very definite ideas about how candidates should think and behave.  I am also interested to note that they are also encouraging people to work from within the major parties, and particularly the Greens, to push for a safe climate policy.  While Save the Planet’s founders feel that they, personally, have taken the ‘reform from within’ strategy as far as they can, they acknowledge that it is still a useful one.  This is far more pragmatism than I would have expected from a group that manifestly leans left.

(As a known leftie, I’m not knocking the left side of politics here.  But, as a movement, we do have a tendency to let our ideals get in the way of actually achieving something.  I’d say the right of politics has the opposite problem – pragmatism getting in the way of ideals.  But I could be wrong.)

They also have a page about preferential voting, and explain in several different places how voting for a small party does not, in fact waste your vote (including a link to this gorgeous cartoon on the subject). This is useful information – and yes, it’s also something that small parties need to make sure people understand!

Let’s have a look at how the other parties have preferenced Ms Harrison.

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Meet the Independents: Gary MANNION (Ungrouped, Western Victoria)

And here, I’m afraid, I’ve drawn a blank.  Gary Mannion, congratulations, you are officially the most elusive candidate so far in this election.  There are, as it turns out, a number of Gary Mannions on the internet.  One of them is a psychic surgeon, which sounds like far more fun than writing about politics.  Another is a politician – but in Massachusetts, not Melton.  A third Gary Mannion is a country musician in South Australia.  I was getting high hopes of another music video, but I’m pretty sure this is the wrong Gary Mannion too.

In short, I don’t know who this candidate is.  I do have one lead on a Gary Mannion who lives in the right suburb and trains greyhounds, and while my gut feeling is that this is the write chap, I can’t say for sure that it really is.  This particular Gary Mannion has a few political things on his Facebook page, including a poster saying that what Australia needs is more unemployed politicians, and also a petition to ban Halal certification fees.

And that’s it.

In terms of where he stands with the various political parties, People Power put him at 11th, which is quite a good effort, and the Liberal Democrats, who I am beginning to suspect just like ungrouped Independents generally, put him at 19th.  Nobody else is too keen.  The Greens and ALP put him at 26th, the Liberals at 29th.  The Cyclists and Palmer United both put him at the bottom of their ticket.  Given the possible association with greyhounds, I was curious to see where the Animal Justice Party put him, but they put him at 30th, which is below the major parties and the parties that they actually like, but above their least favourite groups (right wing Christian parties and parties belonging to people who like hunting).  I don’t think this counts as evidence either way.
In fact, this whole post is basically a very long way of saying “I have no idea who this guy is or who he stands for.”Sorry, folks!