Yesterday, I received my fortnightly edition of Newsweekly, and I found an ad in it by the DLP which caused me to pay even more attention than to the article written by a friend who regularly writes for them. Here is a link to the concerns raised by the DLP which caused them to draw on their cousins in Newsweekly whom they do not always align with:
Personally, I find minor parties both annoying and helpful.
When I want a protest vote, whether in the upper house (as I usually do), or in the lower house (as I have only done twice in my adult life), I like the idea of being able to give my vote to a party whose values most align with my own, and whose integrity may be greater than that of the major party for whom I would otherwise vote.
I find minor parties annoying when they either misrepresent their values, or cause the election of persons blatantly unsuited to more sophisticated participation in the political process. As a disturbing example, I will call out the misnamed Reason Party, which was set up as lobbyists for the pornography industry (nothing wrong with that), who claim to be libertarian (they are actually only libertines at best) but who (shame on you Fiona Patten, you smug timeserving hypocrite) slavishly give the state government extensions of authoritarian powers with very limited parliamentary oversight in the current plague situation.
But much as I, as a private citizen, might find minor parties annoying or helpful, their existence does fill a valuable role in the competitive market of ideas which should underline our democracy.
Rules, such as those which have been recently passed by the Federal Parliament by a consensus of the Coalition and the Opposition, are designed to impede minor parties, with the intention of limiting their ability to compete on any semblance of a level playing field with the major parties.
That the major parties see a need for such regulation is a poor reflection on them, and particularly on the value proposition that they offer potential members, particularly in Victoria, where I have an informed view of their current situation. In the Victorian ALP, the rank and file are totally disenfranchised as a result of branch stacking issues, and decisions are imposed on them by administrators appointed federally. The Victorian Liberals are not much better – COVID has prevented them from holding meetings to elect (or reelect) their ‘administrative committee’ ( ie state executive) – and as a result they are led in a way where they have had limited consultation with their rank and file in the past two years.
Where long standing and major political parties are unable to govern themselves in a manner reasonably compatible with the norms of corporate governance standards, nor to give their financial members (ie share holders) an opportunity to hold the leaderships of those parties regularly accountable, there is a serious crisis in legitimacy.
Seeking to suppress alternative parties, such as the DLP, just illustrates those failures in the major parties to offer an attractive value proposition to existing and potential members. What is someone going to get by joining or remaining a member of a political party, paying the better part of $100 and being expected to donate at least several hours of their leisure time for an election campaign, other than the dubious satisfaction of doing their civic duty towards the ongoing health of our democracy?
Both the Coalition and the ALP are failing to attract either primary votes or nominal (let alone active) members to their cause. Instead of improving their own value propositions (eg becoming more responsive to their members and supporters), they are simply trying to suppress any minor party alternatives, using their powers as the legislative majority consensus.
This is not healthy for our democracy, and is not going to attract either more votes or members to either Liberal or Labor.