Lazy Luddite Log

26.8.13

Clumps

I posted this as a 'note' on Facebook (something I rarely do as I regard FB as a site for very short word limits) as a way of helping friends with a similar political mindset sort and sift all the many groups of candidates contesting the current Half-Senate election (candidates for Victoria specifically). It has since been suggested I also put it here (to further its circulation and possibly also for posterity). So here it is - my clumps...

I have agreed to share a method of mine to help me decide my below-the-line Senate preferences in Victoria for the 2013 Federal Election. It is written with progressive voters like me in mind. In presenting these clumps I have made a study of the Victorian Senate candidates via (i) Wikipedia (ii) party websites (iii) my own link into the Zeitgeist as a long-time activist. I have chosen to overlook preference recommendations of the groups on the grounds that these are often strategic rather than ideological.

My own intention is that once I have ordered those clumps I can then order the specific groups within (or in some cases across) those clumps. Note that these are all judgement calls and in many cases clumps could have been defined differently or particular groups could have been put into different clumps. Feel free to do your own if you find this method useful. I present my clumps moreorless in reverse order of palatability for me. I have included the letter designations (A to AM) for each group taken from the Senate white ballot paper.

SECULAR BUT SCARY: One Nation (C), Citizens Electoral Council (AI)

In some ways these both deserve clumps of one but I will say things about both. One Nation is the nationalist party of Pauline Hanson fame and while non-religious still as disturbing as anything from the religious fanatic pack.

The CEC is a insular cult-like group who think some of the strangest things and are arguably the most barking-mad group on our Senate ticket.

Plenty of prejudice and hate here. Use the Internet and see for yourself. Both parties combine restrictive cultural values with interventionist economics. Also are anti-environmentalist.

RELIGIOUS ULTRA-CONSERVATIVES: Rise Up Australia (A), Family First (G), Australian Christians (AH)

For this lot everything is dictated by what they want to think God says. A wonderful excuse for prejudice towards anyone who is different from them in terms of sexuality or family values or religion. They tend to be accepting of different backgrounds and can look multicultural. But they want a society in which we have a homogenous culture defined by fundamentalist Christianity. Tend to be pro-business and anti-environmentalist. Note that I have put the DLP in another clump.

REACTIONARY RECREATION: Fishing & Lifestyle (N), Shooters & Fishers (O), Australian Motoring (Z), Stop The Greens (AE)

I call them this because they may well never have gotten political if particular laws did not interfere in how they like to live. Government regulations protecting Australians and the natural environment piss them off. They want to fish, hunt and hoon all over Australia. Are necessarily anti-environmentalist. Tend to be conservative or libertarian to the extent they have an ideology.

SINGLE ISSUE OR VAGUE BUT LIKELY CONSERVATIVE: Smokers Rights (M), No Carbon Tax (J), Group (AJ)

I could have put these into other groups (M to Libertarian and J to Reactionary) but lack the information. Beware nonetheless.

LIBERTARIAN: Liberal Democrats (B), Australian Republicans (X)

These have an ideology wishing to minimise government involvement in all aspects of life except legal defence of person and property. So in economics it is sink or swim for both persons and corporations (we just happen to know that corporations are better swimmers who tend to swim right over the rest of us). And in personal life it is literally your decision and therefore your problem whatever the consequences. The tone is different from what a lot of us feel. Rather than "yay celebrate difference" it is more "do whatever see if I care". This is more descriptive of the Liberal Democrats.

The Australian Republicans say that have a libertarian ideology but also have a focus on becoming a republic.

COMMUNITARIAN: Australian Voice (Q), Democratic Labour Party (AM)

Imagine a community that both takes care of you via welfare and industry protection and polices your personal behaviour “for your own good”. The Roman Catholic DLP epitomise this and it is an unusual political tradition with a long history. I have made this separate from the mostly Protestant religious clump because the DLP are far more into interventionist economics.

As for Australian Voice - well - I may be too harsh here but I think the are similar politically but in a secular form.

COALITION AND SUBSTITUTES: Liberals/Nationals (E), Country Alliance (H), Building Australia (P), Katter Australia (V), Palmer United (W)

This clump is for our neo-conservative Liberal and National coalition but also for parties that would otherwise be them but have some sort of issue with those major parties. It may be personal differences with key figures. It may be problems with party culture or structures. It may be a sense that the Coalition are neglecting some deserving interest they are supposed to support. Most of these are former Nationals and specifically feel that the Coalition is too city-centric and neglects rural interests. They will therefore tend to be a bit less free market and a bit more moral conservative.

Building Australia may be an odd-one-out but I put them here because they specifically seek to represent an industry.

COLLECTIVIST: Toscano (T), Socialist Equality Party (AK)


Toscano is an anarchist (of the working class smash-the-state kind rather than a libertarian). This old activist has been at it forever and frequently has letter published in which (somewhat confusingly) he calls for defence of various state institutions such as schools, hospitals and the ABC. I think he would justify this by saying that till such time as the state is dismantled the working class need these services.

The Socialist Equality Party are Marxists. On an issue-by-issue basis progressive voters may well agree with them on many things but personally I have a problem with anyone whose ideology includes talk of violent revolution.

APATHETIC: Senator Online (D)

This party has a gimmick rather than an ideology. They have an app rather than any kind of policy platform. If they have opinions nobody will ever knew because they will do whatever they are told by whatever group of voters can be bothered getting online and regularly directing them. I think this is stupid.

NON-GREENS ENVIRONMENTAL: Stable Population (L), Stop CSG (U), Animal Justice (Y)

They all have a particular issue focus and mostly on environmental grounds. Names are pretty descriptive. L seem to think that Population is the issue that defines environmental problems (rather than the consumption patterns of persons and industry). U exist because they have all personally been impacted by Coal Seam Gas extraction. Y are animal liberationists and vegans.

SINGLE-ISSUE OR VAGUE BUT LIKELY MODERATE: Bank Reform (K), Bullet Train (AG), Drug Law Reform (AF), Ungrouped (Gunter)

This lot seem okay but do take a closer look online. I have and could very well put AF into an even better clump than this one.

MODERATE: Australian Independents (R), Australian Democrats (AB), Labor (AD)

Australian Independents seem moderate and even progressive if with an odd fixation for mandating nice polite behaviour among politicians (to which I would personally say "sticks and stones Kate Monster").

My former party the Democrats is odd now - well more odd than it was. We were once a progressive party whose very moderate methodology attracted non-progressive voters. The current group seem to honestly think they can be 'centrist' in an electorate that includes Labor.

And as for Labor well they are the party of the mixed economy and political compromise and wanting to be progressive but getting scared of conservative lobby groups.

SMALL 'L' LIBERALS: Secular Party (I), Wikileaks (AA), Sex Party (AC), Pirate Party (AL)

I put these together in this group because in one way or another they all emphasise classic civil liberties. They are culturally permissive. Economics is mixed (if tending to free-market). Mildly environmental. I do have qualms with some of them however.

I suspect many Secular Party members forget that a secular society is one that accommodates all religions rather than one that lacks them.

I think that Wikileaks is too much of an ego project for its key candidate (and Mr Assange himself may well fit more into the libertarian clump).

I think that the Sex Party is more a party for the sex industry than for all of us as sexual beings and think that they are at risk of taking 'sex positive' and turning it into 'sex issue blaze'.

PROGRESSIVE OR RADICAL: Hemp (F), Greens (S), Ungrouped (Morrison)

It may seem odd but I have put Hemp here rather than with Drug Law Reform but I feel they are far more counter-cultural and more activist rather than lobbyist.

And since the disintegration of the Democrats I think that the Greens are the best progressive party in Australia.

Feel free to comment and circulate.

This is different from a post I did a few weeks back in that this time I'm targeting like-minded voters rather than attempting to offer impartial advice to all.

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19.8.13

Face To Face

As I reported during the last Federal Election campaign public meetings are one of the best way to engage in the political process. Once more during this Federal Election 2013 candidates in Chisholm have been invited to panel discussions organized by various community groups. I went to one yesterday hosted by the Chinese Australian Association. It was open to the public but predominantly intended for Chinese Australians in the electorate to interact with our local candidates.

Three of our nine candidates for Chisholm Division were in attendance - sitting member Anna Burke (Labor), John Nguyen (Liberal) and Josh Fergeus (Green). One thing I like is that these three were our candidates last time round so there is a sense of continuity and commitment from them. Anna is known as a tireless parliamentarian who has done a lot for the area. John is a hard-working candidate who you can tell wants the job. Josh is also a dedicated campaigner both in the electorate and for causes that matter to him. They were all there to sell themselves as candidates but the chairperson for the event also stressed that the audience were there to remind the politicians that the public are there to scrutinise and make demands of them.

Specifically the chair reminded us that Chinese Australians are a significant and well-integrated group in society and its political processes and they they will continue to engage in the political process. And so they should. All manner of professional, religious and cultural groups mobilize to make an impact on politics in a pluralist society. Sometimes I think that some do so more than I wish but the way to address that is to have more rather than fewer groups do likewise.

Things proceeded slowly because everything needed to be translated and it gave me an appreciation of just how skilled and important the role of the translator is. This was particularly necessary because many of those in attendance were elderly (as is often the way with public meetings).

Josh Fergeus covered a host of issues in his speech well. It was refreshing to have a candidate so openly say that compassion matters in politics and refer to sensitive issues like refugees. John Nguyen made a speech focused on the drivers of prosperity in our economy which I must say felt like a carbon copy of what anyone from his party in any electorate was likely to say. Anna Burke honed her speech well to her audience and focused on how her government has targeted services to the community in ways that are relevant to them.

And how will this impact on me as a voter? I think it served to confirm my party preferences. I'm attracted to the Greens as a party that seeks to address my specific concerns on a host of important and sometimes neglected issues. But what of other voters and in particular the ones that never get along to public meetings? I get that an old activist like me will never be satisfied by what a major party like Labor does but I am surprised and concerned that many average citizens are contemplating the Liberal-National coalition as an alternative government.

It has been decades since the 'strong economic managers' description has been true of the Liberal-Nationals. They have turned into a force that seeks to use public revenue to construct loose political alliances of disparate interests to get them elected. They make vague criticisms of the Labor government despite that government having insulated Australia from global recession. I suppose if you say something lots of times it will become the accepted truth. In which case I can be repetitive too and say that Labor is now the party of the mixed economy which governs from the centre of Australian politics.

In Chisholm I will vote for Josh Fergeus and preference Anna Burke over John Nguyen. This will give me both a way of signifying the importance of issues like human rights and climate change while also showing my support for a government that has done well in difficult economic and political circumstances.

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