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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Also by William Olson:
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