The Democrats had a function in Melbourne on Friday night to mark the 30th anniversary of the party. Apart from the usual interest in catching up with people one hasn’t seen for a while, there was some interesting old video footage of Don Chipp and others from the 70s and early 80s. It was good to see Democrats from the 80s talking just as strongly then about issues like refugee detention and nuclear proliferation, although it was also a bit sobering given how much worse some of these things have since become. Mind you, there were a couple of other positions people took in those earlier days which I wasn’t so keen on.
The difference in the style of media presentation was quite marked, but even taking that into account, Chipp’s spark was still quite apparent. But whilst Chipp always gets a fair bit of focus, seeing some of the others who have faded from public awareness since then was good – especially the late Janine Haines, who actually achieved greater electoral success than Don Chipp, but disappeared very quickly from public view after she left Parliament in 1990.
For one example, check out this old election advertisement on YouTube from the 1990 election featuring Janine Haines.
The party also compiled a booklet featuring all the past and present MPs, almost all of who were interviewed for the purpose. Some of those MPs had some fairly major fall outs with party over the years, so it was good to have them reflecting on the positives of their experiences and the many achievements of the party over so many years.
I should emphasise that the night was not just about noting past achievements, and it was good to see a large number of young people amongst the crowd, including Don Chipp’s two youngest daughters, one of whom, Laura Chipp, will be standing as a candidate at this year’s election.