The Last Democrat?

The membership of the South Australian Democrats have made their choice to fill the Upper House vacancy caused by the retirement of the party’s sole remaining MP.  The vacancy is being filled by David Winderlich.

I first met David quite a few years ago through his work supporting refugees.  He was one of a number of effective refugee advocates in the Adelaide area, and he always struck me as someone who had a genuine belief in the importance of working with people at community level.

With South Australia electing 11 candidates at each Upper House poll, that does give a relatively low quota of 8.33%, so there is can be an outside chance of someone managing to get elected with a fairly small vote if they get the right preference flows.  Given the extraordinary popularity Nick Xenophon now has in that state, it is worth remembering that when he first got elected in 1997, he had a primary vote of less than 3 per cent, so upsets are always possible.

However, as David himself acknowledges, it will be “very tough” for him to get re-elected when the SA election comes around next year.  I can’t disagree with him on that, but I wish him well with his challenge. Whether or not he turns out to be the final Democrat in any Parliament, as is widely predicted, given his experience I am sure he’ll do worthwhile work in the time he’s in the Parliament, however long that turns out to be.

(cross-posted at Crikey blogs)

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  1. Do the Democrats know, he lost his seat on council with the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters?

    The ONLY counseller to lose, because of his antics and motions which wasted much of the council’s time and energy on pointless items?>
    People actively did not vote for him!

    What about leading the change on Saving the cottages in Stepney, which was really about getting media attention?

    David is useless and really shows what the Democrats have become!

  2. Thanks for your comment Scott. As I expect you know, pre-selections and decisions to fill casual vacancies are made by the entire rank and file membership of the party in South Australia. I am sure they were aware of David’s record.

    I can only go on my experience of him, which was as an effective and campassionate community activist. In my experience, such people tend to make good good contributions as politicians (which doesn’t always equate to whether or not they are good at getting media attention).

  3. These people who come to this site ,and find some failure of the Democrats and or candidates,makes me laugh a bit now.George W. Bush has departed ,Rudd didn’t get a phone call,Dengue Fever on the rise in Queensland,price of fruit and vegies going up,and there is something wrong with a man standing in Norwood South Australia, because of his council appearances! Cannot learn from mistakes,even if he may not of thought they were at the time.What a lonely experience to be a Democrat candidate,nowhere near perfect at all.I should of joined the Democrats a number of years back,so my non experience of sitting on no committee at all would be seen as defiantly imperfect! I would declare I represent the totally lost to Democracy,and only run as a dark horse,because I have noticed sometimes how pathetic the race is.And whilst the thought of winning seems adventure,loss isn’t new to me at all.

  4. The only Scott I know with that sort of insight and attitude to me would be Scott Simms, councillor for Norwood Payneham and St Peters and ALP member.

    So hello Scott if it is you. Nice to see you taking an interest and thank you for early notice of likely ALP lines of attack.

    Yes I did lose a council election. One of the reasons was that I was the strongest supporter of heritage listing and that offended a lot of people.

    I cycle to work past many of the houses that I ensured were protected. Most of them will still be there in 10, 20 or even 50 years.

    Losing a council election is a small price to pay for that.

    And say hello to Michael Atkinson for me.

    If you are a different Scott send me an email and introduce yourself.

    Who knows we might get on quite well.
    To all those interstate readers the Stepney cottage reference is about a successful campaign that actually forced the council to back down on their decision to demolish some historic cottages. Looks like I have not been forgiven.

  5. David seems capable to me,but he must be willing to outdo Andrew Bartlett at Aussie Rules.And maybe the Scott needs to laugh a bit too. I think this country is heading for really economic depressing times,laughter about may not help, but choices as it descends certainly may need it.I am almost a voluntary farm laborer,assisting in getting the spuds out.Economically speaking I have always been depressed.The Murray Darling system as test bed for the ALP has made Wong look hopeless.David is also someone who can handle the likes of and,brain failure,just a minute, should visit Mildura Robinvale soon,because it is those areas that the ALP attitude will simply now be completely dismissed,and whilst South Australia suffers.I cannot understand how the researchers on this problem cannot see the utility of EXAIR products,freezing water ,in part,aerates it and lessens salinity.Bacteria have been tested using the Vortex Tube,and are killed.Salt can be rounded up by freezing,sulphur cannot escape……….

  6. I have had the pleasure to work with David on many levels.

    From what I have read from press clippings dating back more than 5 years, David was a great councillor and quite often raised issues of national importance as well as good measures for accountability whilst he was on the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters.

    It is quite clear that SA Labor see David as a threat. I think David will be a thorn in the Rann Government’s side. His community connections and local touch will win over those who are sceptical about the Democrats future.

    You have to actually meet the guy to understand that his intentions are to fight for the people of South Australia. He does this because he is passionate about making South Australia a great place to live in where people are treated fairly and have the access to services they need.

  7. Here’s a thought. Last election, No Pokies took most of the minor party vote with ~2.5 quotas. That won’t be happening this time, so that’s two seats and a good 20% of the vote up for grabs. Most likely it’ll make it much easier for the Greens and Family First to get one each again, and give the Liberals an extra seat (compared to last time, which would have to a low-water mark for them, although now the Frome by-election’s happened I’m not so sure). It is a chance for the Democrats, though. Most definitely their last realistic chance, anyway.

  8. Re Branch Stacking,
    To branch stacker: What if the answer is yes?
    It is almost inevitable that in political parties there will be a small number of people who will attempt to “rort the system”.
    People who engage in branch stacking are not involved in the political process for the right reasons, in my opinion. Speaking for myself I became actively involved because I saw it as a way through which I could make a contribution and stand up for what I believed in. The real challenge for politicians, party officials and members is to be above the pettiness that leads to such underhand tactics. What the electorate is crying out for is genuine leadership on the issues such as climate change, jobs and what it means to be an Australian in the 21st century.

  9. Hi Lorikeet,

    Branch Stacking is where members of a political party actively recruit people to become members to a particular branch of the party. In many cases the membership fees are even paid for by the person doing the recruiting. The branches are based upon geographical areas. For example the Port Pirie branch of the ALP. The point of this exercise is to attempt to sign up enough members in order to effect a certain outcome in a pre selection ballot or any other important issue that the branch may be voting upon. Obviously the “new members” are told in no uncertain terms to vote a particular way.

    The ALP is particularly notorious for branchstacking, often along ethnic lines. The Democrats do have a rule whereby any members cannot vote in a preselection contest until they have been a member for 6 months? (please correct me if this in not right). This goes someway to negating the impact of branch stacking. I hope this explanation is helpful.
    The Grey Ghost.

  10. The Grey Ghost:

    Thank you for your helpful explanation. You said:

    ‘Obviously the “new members” are told in no uncertain terms to vote a particular way.’

    What kind of people can these “new members” be! I’m sure an idea like that wouldn’t work on me.

    It sounds quite similar to Parents’ and Citizens’ Association “stacking”. This is where the P&C president tells his opponents that they will have NO SUPPORT at an important decision-making meeting. This generally keeps most of the people at home. At the same time, he makes sure all of his SUPPORTERS are there with bells on.

    Then he nearly needs a trouser-change when Lorikeet turns up in the company of the person he is trying to kick in the guts.

    Then he manages to cheat the voting system and push through his skulduggerous changes (which might be of interest to the CJC), because no one else has the guts to openly challenge him on his methods.

    Don’t worry. That’s when Lorikeet makes sure the District Office nails his hide to the wall, even though he is a solicitor threatening to sue her.

  11. The possibility that branch stacking might be occurring within the South Australian Democrats is a concern. Even though folk on this website have gone quite at the prospect that branch stacking could be used to influence the outcome of a preselection within the South Australian Democrats, the issue of the potential for branch stacking within the South Australian Democrats shouldn’t be ignored.

  12. Well it would be a concern if there was any evidence or even an accusation made, Branch Stacker. But seeing no has alleged it, there is obviously nothing to be concerned about. Just perhaps your insinuation about people supposedly “going quiet” on the so-called prospect of branch stacking is simply a case that there’s nothing to say, because nothing’s happened. For branch stacking to have occured in regards to this pre-selection, there would have had to have been a significant surge in new members in SA about 9 – 12 months ago. This would be quite easy to establish if it had happened, but from all I’ve heard, Democrat membership has not surprisingly dropped over the past 12 months.

  13. My view is the Democrats failed and people should pour their energies into the Greens instead they are the only alternative now.

  14. Daniel

    Daniel says, My view is the Democrats failed and people should pour their energies into the Greens instead they are the only alternative now.

    God help us if that was the case.

    Gladly it’s not. I believe that the greens reached their peak in the 2007 election. With the economy starting to fail so too will the success of ideologically driven extreme partys like the greens.

    A return to a more tradional party is what people are looking for and the greens certainly dont fit into that category.


  15. Daniel:

    People should ignore Greens altogether. They’re not what you think they are. For a while they sucked a percentage of young people in with their scaremongering and guilt-inducing tactics.

    I think the wise thing to do would be to vote for a government that will put a much larger percentage of GDP into services such as Health and Education.

    We must get rid of those parties (Labor/LNP) who keep selling out our farmers (bananas, wheat) before they turn us into a Bananaless Republic. Pass the wheaties please, while we still have some left!

    Also consider the fact that they keep selling off Australian owned utilities. How about importing other people’s (Japanese) greenhouse wastes??

    In the end, how much Gross Domestic Product can we expect will be returned in services once we have been COMPLETELY sold out???

  16. Lorikeet, Some of your views are in line with Greens policies. I think you better join with us. The Greens are totally opposed to selling off Australian assets & they would prefer to protect and save Australian icons and industries in Australian country towns. both the major parties have been doing tis for decades but the dum Australian people keep voting for them instead of the Greens. Australians need to wake up to themselves in my view.

  17. DANIEL

    Daniel Says: Some of your views are in line with Greens policies. I think you better join with us.

    What about the other 99%


  18. Daniel:

    In my view, the Greens are worse than Labor/LNP. They also seem to side with Labor on a lot of issues in the parliament.

    I’m sure we all share common ground with one another on some issues, but if I had to send a single party to hell in a handbasket, it would be the Greens.

    If you vote for them, they will construct a handbasket big enough to hold us all and send US to hell instead – with their environmental stupidity and various other recidivist nincompoopery.

    Try to think of it this way. A vote for the Greens is a vote for something far more Brown.

  19. In regards to allegations of branch stacking. What a load of bull. This is slanderous and that comment should be withdrawn. There have been no allegations of branch stacking made within the party. If there had been allegations then this would have been seriously investigated and an appeal lodged upon the count of the ballot.

    It would be very difficult to branch stack in the Democrats due to the following clause in the constitution.

    11.6 of this constitution or ballot provisions under 14.9 of this constitution and subject to this Constitution and its Regulations. Members who have been enrolled for less than six months shall be known as non-voting members.

  20. Max – as both you and Andrew have pointed out, no allegations of branch stacking have been made. Though are you aware of any branch stacking that might be taking place within the SA Democrats?

  21. No, I’m not aware of any. And given what I know of membership trend numbers, I am sure there hasn’t been any either, whether it be recently or any time in the last 20 years. I can’t vouch for the 1980s, but it’s propably a bit late to raise allegations about that.

  22. Well that’s a lonely place to be. I hope the Democrats can pull off another seat, but at the state they’re at now I can’t see anyone necromancing it back to life. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard of a party take such a massive hit over eight years and come back in a reasonably functioning form, unless a star candidate emerged out of the wilderness. Fat chance. Too bad, because in my opinion they were one of the best, most honest parties to ever to take part in parliament. Now all we’ve got is the Greens.

  23. The time for a centrist party will come again once the current centre-ward rush of the Old Parties is reveresed … there are ebbs and flows in all this … just wait, and you will see

  24. David, you know who I am, and you also know how far I stuck my neck out in 2006 to help get kate elected; and I think you are an as*s for ID’ing anyones last name on a forum or blogg.

    And guess what, I think you know you don’t have a snowballs chance in hell, especially with the AGs changes to the electorial act that mean you no longer have party status in SA….500 members now, not 150.

    I first became interested and active in politics before I could even vote, after getting a hand written reply to a letter from Don Chipp, and I am glad he is dead and can not see what Kank and co have done to the Dems.

    I regret the demise of the dems and the rise of family first and Ozzie and others have a lot to answser for.
    Such as why was Don Chipps death on page three of the SA dems newsletter that month and Kank all over page one????
    Why was Kank babbling on about E’s when the legislative issue at hand and on the table was HEMP..btw, I note that her drug expert is now dead!
    There is a lot more I would like to say to you but I do not want to soil AB’s good blogg; I will save it for the book!

  25. We can speculate as much as we want if the Democrats are buried or not but i would refer you to the New Democrats website or to see the recent accomplishments and numerous media coverages since the beginning of the year, same sex rights, parental leave, no internet censorship…. The Democrats are still active at a community level on all aspects of the society. David is far from being the last Democrat but on the contrary this is the beginning of the rebirth. The party is in a rebuilding phase and as you may have noticed we are on the way back. The lower house is the next target….What the Australians expect is a party for all Australians who does not hesitate to work at a community level as much as in the seclusive spheres of the parliament. David has been doing a great job so far not only for SA but in maintaining the tradition of defending the diversity of social values. From Don Chipp to Janine Haines and Natasha Scott Despoja, the party has evolved in a progressive and much more democratic way than any other party or power in place and you have simply to look around with thousands of citizens who are waiting for the Democrats to be present at a State and Federal level again or abroad and you will see that the social democracy in some countries or liberal democracy or even centre right or left wings are more and more embedded in people’s minds for a better future than the last century sectarism we retrieve in Liberal or labor powers in place. Happy to discuss further and welcome anyone with the new upcoming strength of the Australian Democrats.

  26. Daniel says:

    My view is the Democrats failed and people should pour their energies into the Greens instead they are the only alternative now.

    What a horrible thought.

    Perhaps poor their energies against maybe more appropriate.


  27. Gerald Garcia

    As a centrist party will the Democrats make a stand against the Carbon Trade Scheme (ETS of Slave Tax a its known in Europe)


  28. Geral Garcia:

    How is a party to rebuild when their ex leader makes this comments.
    Lyne Elison

    Wanting our troups charged while she draws a pension.
    Disgracefull. You might want to disown Sandra Kanke for her comments but how do you excuse Lyne.

    Whether or not you agree with the war statements like this against our defence force personnel never achieve anything. Except in Lyne case of
    absolute disgust.


  29. Tony:
    1. It’s Lyn Allison

    2. Not sure how her being an ex-politician would have any relationship to saying that our participation in an illegal war is wrong. I have no opinion about whether Australian military personnel committed war crimes, though thier being Australian doesn’t mean they couldn’t, but I do think our participation shuld be laid at the door of the Prime Minister who took us there.

    3. Whether you like it or not, the Greens are the ones standing up to vested interests in e.g. the so-called consultation period farce in South Australia re the Roxby Downs expansion without any serious attempt to address concerns re the environment where we all have to live.

  30. Dolphins:

    Sorry Dolphins I just remember her as the woman that promoted abortion and had a sticker on her car with …Save the Baby Seals….

    How’d she every become leader.

    If ever there was a reason why the Dems faded it was her


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