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On June 25 2008, Nick Minchin gave a valedictory speech to the Senate to mark the departure of the Australian Democrats from the federal Parliament after a presence of over 30 years.

To help further boost the mood of the Democrats there that night, Senator Minchin kindly outlined that “one of the things (he) managed to achieve in Australian politics was keeping Janine Haines out of the House of Representatives”, due to his then role of managing the Liberal campaign in Kingston in the federal election of 1990.

Minchin said

I was genuinely very fearful of Janine capturing a seat in the House of Representatives which, from my perspective and the perspective of my party, would have been a dreadful thing to have occurred. I remember having a real fight with Andrew Peacock, our then leader, in which I tried to convince him that we should direct preferences to the Labor Party to keep Janine out. He insisted that we could not do that and that we always put Labor last, therefore we had to direct preferences to Janine. The problem with that was we were running third in the ballot 10 days out and our preferences were going to elect her to the seat. In my role as the state director, I then ran the most negative campaign that has ever been run against the Democrats anywhere.

Needless to say, this campaign was successful. Also needless to say was that it relied on fundamentally misrepresenting the Democrats’ policies at the time.

I was reminded of Senator Minchin’s statements when the ALP unleashed some advertising grossly misrepresenting the Greens’ policy positions on a couple of inflammatory issues.  The Greens were readier to respond than the Democrats had been in 1990, but it none the less reinforced the reality that the bigger the Greens vote gets, and the closer the Greens get to winning Lower House seats at state or federal elections, the more they can expect to meet major resistance.

Not all of this will be as dishonest as Labor’s attacks in Tasmania last week or the Liberal’s in Kingston in 1990.  Every political party has vulnerabilities that are open to criticism, and it is part of the task of their competition to highlight those vulnerabilities.  How well the Greens deal with that reality over the next few years will play a big role in determining whether they can sustainably achieve what every third party in Australian politics dreams of – regular representation in the Lower Houses of our state and federal Parliaments (leaving aside Tasmania, which as is regularly noted, is quite different from the rest of Australia).

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  1. I remember listening to that on the radio.

    Now it looks like he’s set to resign. Good riddance to him.

  2. Well, I liked Janine Haines, but not Andrew Peacock. I think most people considered him a stupid ass with too much money.

    A guy from the ACTU did the National Press Club address one day last week. He said he was going to try to lift the minimum wage from $16 to $27 per hour. I bet the corporations and their Labor cronies won’t be too interested in that, and neither will Liberals.

    Then he said the ACTU will be running a huge campaign for Labor in marginal seats. No doubt that will include the electorate I live in, which is Dickson.

    I can’t really understand why the ACTU doesn’t just tell the ALP to get stuffed. They haven’t cared much about the worker for a very long time.

    With Julia Gillard pushing her Education Revolution, Labor will probably want to run the school teacher again, who was only beaten by a hair last time by the Liberal incumbent, Peter Dutton.

    After a recent electoral redistribution giving Dickson more Labor voters, it is no wonder Peter Dutton tried unsuccessfully to defect to a much posher area down the coast, and then had to make amends with his voter base when he failed.

    I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say who the Liberals wanted to run instead of him in Dickson. Hint: Think of an old hag that nobody likes, who has represented us in both local and state governments. If Liberals had run that woman, the ACTU could have gone on a holiday.

    What voters need to realise is that Labor is going to corporatise the public school system, with funding coming from the government, and school fees coming from parents.

    While Julia Gillard may be a woman to be looked up to by virtue of her media presence, I believe her plans for this nation will only send us further backwards. Ditto for Liberals.

  3. Yeah… remember what happened in Kingston.

    Learned a long time ago that there is only one thing the Conservatives fear and despise more than Socialists…. and that’s Progressive Liberals (which is what the Dems were, and the Greens are…).

    But these days both Labor and Liberal Parties are conservatives – so Greens need to get ready to go on the offensive, as well as to defend.

    The UK Lib Dems spent about 10 years on the offensive against the “Boom & Bust” “Seesaw” politics of the Tories and Labour. If the Greens are smart, they will do the same thing here.

    Actually, the best thing that could happen for progressive politics in this country would be for Liberal and Labor to govern in coalition in Tassie – making progressives the official Opposition.

  4. Lorikeet:

    They are on the same side – Liberal and Labor.

    The Greens need to get on the front foot as a progressive alternative third force – and not fail to press home the reality like the Democrats failed to do – with voters.

    So shall we call them:

    1. The Liblab Party;

    2. The Lablib Party;

    3. The Laboral Party; or perhaps

    4. The Libor Party???

    Please take a look at what the progressive third force in the UK are doing in their campaigning below – for this 2010 election.

  5. Andrew O:

    Thanks for the link. Judging by comments I’ve received from a Clinical Nurse and an Advertising Executive returning from the UK recently, the UK is a better place to work than Australia.

    What shall we call them? That’s easy. They can be the Globalist Corporate Neo-Communist Party working with a Crush Australia Policy.

    I’m afraid I couldn’t vote for anyone pushing a Green agenda at all. It will further empower corporations to rip us all off, which is the main aim of globals.

    Last night I saw protesters on the news, complaining about Rudd’s plan to increase population to 35 million. One guy yelled out that he would rather have 35 million koalas in Australia, which I found to be an extremist’s stance.

    Australia could easily support a population of 35 million. According to Landline, we are already growing enough food to feed 60 million, despite recent concerns about drought and future advances in food growing techniques.

    It is my belief that a Green agenda is being used by both state and federal governments to financially break our farmers and get them off their land. This is so corporations (most likely Chinese) can take over the running of farms, rail and port facilities and move most of the food produced back to THEIR place.

    Anna Bligh and her minions have no doubt been reading blogs lately. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has cited the federal government bringing in huge numbers of migrants and visa holders without giving a thought to concomitant infrastructure problems being dumped on the States.

    Anna Bligh has clearly seized on this and is now using it to her advantage. I don’t think she wants the States wiped out, with power being centralised in Canberra.

  6. That’s a pity Lorikeet… given the Greens are the only viable third force in politics these days.

    I prefer to listen to the leaders of the parties rather than lone protester remarks…

    So I guess you will be voting Labservative then???

  7. Andrew O:

    No, I will never vote for Rich Liberals or Slave Labor again, nor would I vote for Greens or Democrats, unless a few policies changed. Throughout my life, I have mostly voted for Democrats or Independents. At the last state election, I voted for Family First, which polled rather poorly, but the choice of candidates was limited.

    I have been told I belong to the Centre Left.

    I agree with Andrew Bartlett on several issues. I could say the same of Steve Fielding (FF) and Barnaby Joyce (NATS).

    I actually feel quite sorry for Barnaby Joyce. He should have just stayed in the Senate and done his work there. When he tried to highlight the true level of both public and private foreign debt, Liberals kicked him out of the Finance Ministry. I’d say this was because people did a bit of checking and realised that Liberals are quite good at racking up foreign debt themselves.

    Now they have made him the Minister for Environment and Water. I don’t think it will be long before they shaft him again, because of complaints being made by corporate cronies.

    I don’t think the Greens are the only viable third force in politics these days. The DLP and CECA are on the rise, and I’m sure people are showing more interest in Independents.

    Lower paid workers are very disgruntled. The last thing they need in addition to paying rents of $750+ per fortnight is a Carbon Tax which will push up prices of everything, and further empower the very corporations which are already underpaying them.

    I would like to vote for someone who will cap the Health Insurance Rebate, Child Care Rebate and has as its primary goals, foreign debt reduction; reinstatement of government owned banks, income producing assets and utilities; housing the poor and disadvantaged; providing good FREE public hospitals and schools; funding universities.

    Let us cut out the corporations, give farmers and small business people a fair go, then increase foreign aid.

  8. Lorikeet…

    I dont think anyone could possibly describe the DLP or Citizens Electoral Council as “centre left” organisations.

    Similarly, Barnaby Joyce could only be described as centre left if the description came from Ghengis Khan.

  9. if the election in tassie is anything to go on its going to be an interesting fed election
    if the labor bring on a d.d. election they would be very brave indeed and look like they would be grasping at anything and loose .

    it happend in western australia because most pollys thought the average person was not to brite but be warned the voters are educated now and have good memorys.

    thats what happened to the democrats they couldent grasp why the ppl put them there ( a couple did includes andrew ) but not enough so if the greens being the ONLY alternative at the moment cant see the forrest for the trees they will go the same way .
    when you have to deal with ppl who have admitted to some low acts then be carful trust no one
    looks like the greens have the perfect opitunity now to proove to the ppl (who are watching ) that the greens can do the right thing because there chances in the fed election depend on it .

  10. Andrew Says: I dont think anyone could possibly describe the DLP or Citizens Electoral Council as “centre left” organisations.

    Similarly, Barnaby Joyce could only be described as centre left if the description came from Ghengis Khan.

    Comming from the greens anything right of the extreme left would be seen as right.
    Barnaby Joyce is certainly placed in the centre and the DLP economic polices are clearly centre left. They are after all a labor party.

    With the greens hugging the extreme left its no wonder you call anything even close to the centre, “the right”
    Lets face it, you still attempt to place the Democrats in the centre when it was plain for all to see they had swung 90 degrees to the left and landed on the greens laps.

    Hence your decision to join them.

  11. Tony:

    That comment was not from me, but you are just repeating the same falsehood about the Democrats you’ve tried many times before. Repeating things that doesn’t make them true, no many how many times you do it. In any case, the evidence disproving your assertion is on the public record over three decades – not that I’d expect you to look at it.

    Put whatever other label you like on the DLP, but is an ultra-Conservative party.

    In any case, I think people are better off discussing policy, rather than spending their energy trying to stick labels on things.

  12. Andrew:

    Judging solely by what I’ve read on your blog, mostly in relation to the Victorian bush fires, the Australian Democrats sound as if they have greened up quite a bit to me.

    Here is my take on the DLP. I consider myself a fairly conservative person on many issues, but the DLP has an extreme stance (non-liberal) in regard to lots of issues which will not fly with the voting public.

    If a bit of moderation was applied, together with an honest degree of consideration for the poor (NOT those on $150,000 household income), I think the degree of support would be much higher.

    By contrast, it would appear (at least to me) that The Greens are from the extreme Liberal Left on quite a lot of issues, which I think is far more dangerous.

    Is your party affiliated with Sustainable Population Australia? They are the people who want to cut Australia’s population by more than 60% and introduce a One Child Policy, no doubt so we can completely screw our Age Pyramid like China.

  13. Lorikeet, the Democrats were always green. Their first policy was against uranium mining and they campaigned hard in the 1980s against things such as the Franklin Dam and the destruction of the Daintree rainforest.

    The SPA is not affiliated with the Greens, and the Greens population policy is clearly at odds with positions the SPA espouse. I wouldn’t have joined them otherwise.

  14. Lorikeet
    Says: If a bit of moderation was applied, together with an honest degree of consideration for the poor (NOT those on $150,000 household income), I think the degree of support would be much higher

    Lorikeet the 150,000 is the means test limit that the two major parties set for their cut off in many of their social security, child care and maternity leave payments.

    The DLP is the only party that has come out against the current system (and proposed maternity payment policy of both major parties) and has defended the lower and single income familes on a common payment or tax break for all.
    The liberals are the party that would pay maternity leave to mother of up to 50% ($75000) for 6 months. The greens have supported this policy.
    The ALP policy is similar rewarding a similar scheme but not as costly as the liberal/green policy.

    Recent polling has three seats agreeing with our policy with approval rateing up to 77% for equal consideration for all families and not the current discrimination for higher income families.

    We have even held talks with the leaders on this very subject, so to suggest that the DLP is not looking after the lower income families is just ignorance of our policy stance.

    We have had lectures and discussions on this very subject and had a guest speaker present these arguments at our northside meeting two weeks ago.

  15. Tony:

    Then let me put it another way. A government should look after the poor and the average. Higher income families don’t need equal consideration because they can easily look after themselves. This is not discrimination. They should be counting their blessings, not the notes in their wallets.

    I think it’s bad enough that Labor hasn’t reversed the tax cuts given to high income earners. When we have a huge foreign debt, that’s grossly irresponsible.

    I think the Labor Party has a better idea of how much Parental Paid Leave should be available. I think the Liberals idea is both inequitable and unaffordable.

    I can’t believe no one has put a cap on the Child Care and Health Insurance Rebates. Labor’s proposed cap was probably a bit too low for HIR, but I think the government should consider whether or not a couple has any dependant children, and work from there.

    We have a huge foreign debt. Our main priority should be repaying it.

    Here’s something else you might consider. We live in a largely atheist/agnostic country. I don’t think voters want extreme religious views pushed onto them. They can get that in church.

    The main aim of a Labor Party should be to defend the worker from various abuses by the employer.

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