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Meet The New Liberals – much more than its name

Many people upset with the status quo of the Australian political duopoly of the ALP and LNP usually display their frustrations in a manner akin to how people complain about the weather: everyone bellyaches about it, but no one does anything to fix it.

But Victor Kline and a few of his contemporaries have, in a little bit over the last year, created a party to challenge the stranglehold the two main parties have had on the voting public over the last several decades on the Australian landscape.

Kline, a barrister by trade who has also served as the director of the Refugee Law Project, founded The New Liberals (TNL) with his wife Katharine, an oncologist and former teacher, and had them registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on September 1 of last year.

Other founders within the organisation also include Steve Hopley, who comes from a theatre and arts background, and Jennifer Phillip, a retired public servant.

Notice a pattern emerging here? Not a single career politician among them.

And according to Kline, that’s by design within his party’s leadership all the way down to its rank and file and, ultimately, who they want to connect to.

“We are real people from the real world, who are determined to tell the truth in all things, whatever the consequences may be. It is this that best distinguishes us from the professional politicians and gains us the respect and trust of the nation,” Kline said in an exclusive interview with the author of this byline.

 

Victor Kline, co-founder and leader of The New Liberals, with volunteers for the Refugee Law Project (Photo courtesy of the Refugee Law Project, photographer Danielle Lamborn)

 

And Kline, in pointing out the significance of his party’s name, wishes to reassure the public that he is trying to reach that they are “lower-case ‘L’” progressives having nothing to do with that other group of the “capital-letter ‘L’” conservatives.

In fact, he stresses that the party of Robert Menzies and Keith Murdoch all the way down to consecutive LNP governments of Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison now represent nothing liberal at all about politics and public policy.

“The simple truth is that we are a ‘liberal’ party, as that word is understood around the world, and has been for two hundred years, to mean a progressive party which believes in equality of opportunity,” Kline says.

“It was understood that way, in this country too, before the current corrupt government perverted the word to mean its exact opposite of ‘ultra-conservative’.

“If we were to allow those bastards to bully us into not telling the truth about our name, then we would have failed the truth test and [at] the very first opportunity,” Kline adds.

Kline is determined to ensure that TNL won’t be a mere minor player in the Australian political scene.

In fact, he feels that his party’s progressive policies and straight-ahead intentions can resonate with enough people in order to form government at any point in time.

“We do not in any way resonate with the current political status quo.  We are different from them in every possible way,” Kline says.

“We are courageous, intelligent, compassionate and honest. We say those qualities are entirely absent from the corrupt duopoly which claims to run this country,” he adds.

The core policies which TNL possess to set up its progressive platform includes matters concerning – but not limited to – economics, education, taxation, connections between environment and business, liberties and freedoms, advancement of Australian culture, and “equality, dignity and respect for all, through the guarantee of fundamental human rights, financial safety nets, access to justice, and the paramountcy of the rule of law”.

Full employment – which involves tackling and eliminating all forms of unemployment and under-employment – exists as one of TNL’s main goals.

And Kline believes that it, with the attraction of a new minimum salary of $57,000 per annum and an hourly full-time minimum wage of $28.84, can be achieved without paying off debt or raising taxes, due to the TNL’s economic beliefs being Keynesian in nature, rather than the Thatcherite and Reaganomics policies and theories which have been tried and failed globally over the last 40 years.

“We will establish a non-compulsory Job Guarantee Scheme, funded federally but administered locally, through local councils, non-government organisations, community organisations, artistic organisations, carers’ groups and so on, whereby any unemployed person who wants a job, will be guaranteed one at a minimum wage of $57,000. As such, we will eliminate unemployment, under-employment and the working poor,” Kline says.

“We believe that a sovereign government can invest in whatever it wants to invest in.

“So if we want to pay a person who was unemployed, $57,000 to do a productive job, then not only will that eliminate that person’s unemployment, but every one of those $57,000 will be spent and re-spent across the economy, thereby benefiting everyone,” he adds.

Kline also advocates the policy of a current hot-button topic, a far-reaching federal ICAC, that goes beyond what current Attorney-General Christian Porter proposed this week but was roundly criticised.

But Kline insists that TNL’s version of an ICAC has nothing to do with Porter’s – perish the thought, he implies.

“We would not patch up the deficiencies,” Kline declares.

“We have a fully developed ICAC with teeth which, if in government, we would introduce instead. It provides for an independent body with power to investigate, prosecute and jail, politicians, judges or bureaucrats who have been corrupt, have abused their power or who have been in dereliction of their duty.

“It would be retrospective in its operation, and would undoubtedly result in people like [Peter] Dutton, [Barnaby] Joyce and [Angus] Taylor being put behind bars,” Kline adds.

Kline and TNL will lay out the finer details regarding their ICAC blueprint in a streaming Zoom Town Hall meeting on Sunday, November 15, from 3:00pm AEDT, and if one requires the ID’s and passcodes for the session, Kline and TNL can be contacted on Twitter via @The_NewLiberals or via e-mail at victorkline@thenewliberals.net.au.

Environmentally, Kline and TNL feel that a zero emissions scheme can be achieved by 2035 – “There is no doubt it is doable. All that is required is the political will, which neither of the duopoly possesses,” he says – and the party seeks to put a full stop to foreign interests selling Australian water back to an Australian government for twice the price, and giving Australian farmers a fair shake when it comes to water entitlements, such as in the Murray-Darling region.

“We will eliminate this form of corruption by the simple act of enforcing the regulations” through legislation, Kline says.

And in the end, Kline has cited that while TNL’s overall message has resonated to millennials – “We believe we resonate with them because we are offering them something that they have not seen in their lifetimes, namely honest democratic government,” he cites – he feels that the party’s platform possesses widespread appeal, beyond any single demographic.

“We are finding support from all parts of the political spectrum, because what we ae offering are not ‘political’ options, but basic common sense for life solutions,” says Kline.

“It has been said that 80 per cent of people will agree on what the fundamentals of a democracy are, and how it should be run.

“It is that 80 per cent who are our constituents,” Kline adds.

 

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18 comments

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  1. Rufus Youngblood

    Big deal, yet a few more wealthy former Liberals can’t bring themselves to support the only viable alternative, so they form yet another micro party for losers, full of self-delusion that they will make diddly squat of a difference.

  2. Kathryn

    It is a great pity that Kline chose “The New Liberals” as a name for his political party! The word “Liberal” has long been associated with the totally corrupt, self-serving elitists in the LNP which is anything BUT democratic or liberal. Surely, if his party wants to fight for the freedom of ALL Australians and vulnerable asylum seekers, a better name would have been the Australian Egalitarian Party!

  3. Pete Petrass

    @Kathryn yes I wholeheartedly agree that using the word liberal is the worst thing they could have done, particularly if they are looking for wide ranging support. When I first started reading the article I nearly did not continue because of the name, as soon as I saw Liberal I nearly stopped reading the article. However reading further they seem to have policies that would actually attract a lot of support and I would possibly move away from Labor for that.
    But first they must completely disassociate themselves from that word Liberal.

  4. Gangey1959

    When someone comes up with a new idea, or invention, or in this case a Political Party with ALL of the aspirations and goals that most Australians with more than a single braincell would find reasonable to the point of attractive, things are made a lot more difficult when the true, or correct name for this new “thing” have been taken. if you invent a new cheese-grater, and the name you want to use is taken, it is possible to buy outright the name, or the entire company, and then substitute your product. Piece of cake.
    “Liberal” is taken. It has has been used. And abused. It is now distorted beyond recognition for what it means to the point of obscenity, and whilst I understand Victor Kline’s desire to re-establish the true meaning of the word in our political arena it is an exercise in futility.
    The Australian voter, We the Voter, sees it as tainted, tarnished and befouled, just as dear poorleen trashed the concept of a single national identity with one notion.
    I like the idea. I will listen. Given the opportunity and a candidate I would consider voting for you too.
    I’m sad, but Victor, pick something else, or you will lose at the first hurdle, because “liberal” as a brand cannot be marketed truly. It’s been fucked over by experts and cannot be redeemed.

  5. Jack Cade

    The problem with Australian political parties is that their names are misleading. The LIberals are not liberal; the Labor Party does not represent labour, and the Nationals don’t warrant a comment.
    Don Chipp had the right idea, but like all good political ideas the party he formed attracted mainly lapsed LIberals and was, predictably, shafted by them.
    We certainly need a new party – a fully representative party, But what to call it? Tony Blair called the British Labour Party ‘New Labour’, and it was so ‘new’ it rubbed out any trace of what the Labour Party stood for.

  6. wam

    A jolly read, as is vic and kath words.
    What do you make of this klinism?
    ‘My Liberal voting friends still voted Liberal but with no enthusiasm because Labor looked even worse.”
    Seems lawyer speak to me and a good reason with “ALL of the aspirations and goals that most Australians with more than a single braincell would find reasonable to the point of attractive, “to suggest oh olly another fine mess?
    ps,
    Gangey that is just the point it is not new and it is not difficult to come up with an anti-political parties plan over a decaf latte that most australians who are upset about parts of labor and the lnp balancing with the extremist waffle will support.
    The lawyer’s thoughts are golden and will go straight to the poolroom.

  7. Phil Pryor

    You can smell the fart gas of “liberal”, abused beyond redemption. What a pretentious, posing poxed presumptive pose, another effing “liberal ” party, started up by people probably wanting corporate supremacy, upper class distinction and exclusivism and no religious or racial undesirables actually welcome. Modest profiteers, “honest” exploiters, quiet supremacists, bleached bullshitters, turn up for this.

  8. Caz

    That’s a bit harsh Phil. A barrister working for the Refugee Law Project is not someone to be sneered at. Neither is an oncologist or a public servant. Who do you think has the know how to form a new political party? The local postie, checkout chick, bus conductor? A party with the suggested policies would be beneficial and appealing. Having watched my Labor Party become more spineless as time goes on, I would support this party. And even become a paid up member. I do think the name is problematic. Most Australians don’t understand what liberal actually means, and many would expect it to be conservative.
    A name that included any of the following might work
    Democratic, reformed, future, society,
    Choosing the name seems to be as hard as establishing the party itself.

  9. leefe

    Let’s see a full policy list before judging. They’ve really only mentioned three things: employment guarantee, ICAC, emissions reduction. Not a bad start but I want to know a lot more.

  10. Matters Not

    Since 1910, Australia has generally had majority governments under which either the Australian Labor Party or a coalition of non-Labor parties has held office. Can’t see that changing anytime soon. Little evidence that Australians have a deep understanding of philosophy generally and even less evidence that political philosophy (including liberalism) is at the forefront of anyone’ consciousness other than political tragics. And even then – how many have read the works of John Locke – credited widely with being the founder of modern liberalism?

    among the most influential political philosophers of the modern period. In the Two Treatises of Government, he defended the claim that men are by nature free and equal against claims that God had made all people naturally subject to a monarch. … governments exist by the consent of the people in order to protect the rights of the people and promote the public good, governments that fail to do so can be resisted and replaced with new governments. … also important for his defense of the right of revolution.

    Seems many forget that new political movements (including parties) dot the historical landscape. Not a rarity. None bloom for long. Even those with significant financial resources. In short – it ain’t gonna last. Back to sleep!

  11. Phil Pryor

    Caz, you are quite right to suspect an intemperate burst, and the people concerned have clear merit, if they mean well. Barristers are a mixed “race” or clique and some have been clearly complex, anti-social, self centred, as well as others being gifted, progressive, socially and poltically decent. We might see, but, liberal is a dodgy term to define in Australia…

  12. Jano from the Gong !

    Having read the post , I like what his proposals and policies might be , .how ever ,Ditto .

    The bone of contention- is in the name !!! ,, Crap off, Any reference to the Liberals ! ,That is a no Brainer ! ………….

    It can still be – ALP, ALP , ALP,. But how …well ..you Have the Australian Labour party ,The Australian Liberal Party ,,,

    why not . (.The Australian Liberty party ? ) . Freedom – from the shackles of the Australian Liberal and Labour party !!!- Get it …………Any one ,,,,,,,,?

    …. And it still sounds like a legit Party ..the name would fit in here ,, Liberty is freedom – away from these old dinasaur parties ,,Freedom to create a new policy platform that unites all Aussies ! ,,,In other words ,,A FAIR GO = The Australian Liberty Party ,,, ,, !

    Hope the name at least makes sense to Kline and his aspirations , and those who wish vouch for a new party in this country !

    cheers ,, ALP .The Australian Liberty party. Amen ,

    .

  13. John Iser (the NSW one)

    Just a timely reminder that a political party isn’t a ‘real’ political party until it has registered with the AEC and/or the state equivalents. I’ve yet to see the New Liberals on the AEC’s Register of Political Parties, or even among the Applications for Registration.

    Seriously: you have to do this. You can’t get your party’s candidates on the ballots otherwise.

    As for the name: don’t worry about the stench associated with the name ‘Liberal’ in this country. (The Canadian equivalent of the ALP, Justin Trudeau’s lot, is the Liberal Party of Canada.) Worry about s.129 (1) (d) & (da) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, which say that the AEC will refuse to register a party whose name is similar to that of an existing party.

  14. Matters Not

    Yet we have the Liberal Democratic Party whose star candidate was David Leyonhjelm. Note:

    A party without any sitting MP or Senator needs five hundred members, and you can’t use members that someone else already has. It’s not illegal to be a member of multiple parties, but if you’re registered for one, you can’t be used to make up the numbers to register another.

    Nevertheless, it’s not that hard to get 500 names.

  15. Jano from the Gong !

    If thats the case . in relation to similar to ,,, how is the Liberty , similar to labour or liberal party ? or the act ,you refer to ? Its just one word ..Liberty ,, LIberty is not, liberal or labour ,,Its a free name ,,that should stand on its own .. And the 1918 date, act of which you refer ,,is way out of date for modern politics in this country … we live in 2020 ..not 1918 ! ,,that is out dated that Act . And ,should of been ammended- donkey ages ago ! … (How ever ,,thanks for your history lesson in the commonwealth law- John ),,, The out dated Dinasaur ,,that it is ,,,,,!!! The Australian Liberty party , name ..was just a suggestion .. It gets shot down be4 any merit ,, No harm in trying to come up for a name , for a party for Victor Kline – and an advancement for his cause for all Australians … nothing more ..Nothing less ,,John Iser ,,

    Respect and cheers from Jano ,,, NSW….

  16. Florence Howarth

    They have never been liberal. Always conservative. Having moved so far to the right, they are not even that since Howard.

  17. Wendy Tubman

    The linking of the Greens with the LNP and ALP in relation to (for example) economic policy and political donations is just plain wrong. The Greens do not follow Monetarism, Thatcherism or Raeganomics. They have a policy of economic justice, involving considerable public ownership and recognition of the environment in economic policy, and they do NOT accept corporate donations. While there are some good ideas here, they need to get their facts right and not assume that anyone who is not them is the enemy or wrong.

  18. Kronomex

    Any party that uses the moniker “Liberal” in their name makes me rather, nay, very wary.

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