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Origins and ethos of Australian Progressives

By Candy Lawrence

Australian Progressives is a political party which achieved registration in February 2015. The party was originally conceived in late 2013 by a group of young progressive thinkers. The most influential was Vinay Orekondy, then a law student, who would become the most persistent driving force behind the party’s direction and the inaugural President upon registration.

Disillusionment with the two-party system and with the behaviour of politicians was pervasive in society, and the original think tank had observed that disengagement from politics was growing amongst the very people whom politics was meant to serve. The growth of protest movements such as March in March suggested that the time was fast approaching for a major change in Australian politics. The notion of seeking happiness and fulfilment for the Australian people, as a political rather than a personal goal, was derided by those in power as soft thinking; profit and economic growth had become a Holy Grail. The attitude of the major parties to the most disadvantaged in society and to the health of the planet were no more diverse than Coke and Pepsi, while the Greens had polarised rather than united the community. Meanwhile, our representatives continued to behave like disruptive schoolboys on the floor of the Houses of Parliament, with cheap point-scoring and abusive language having long been the norm.

In response to this, over time a radical set of six guiding principles was established for the party: ethics, empathy, equality, evidence, engagement, and empowerment. The party would not seek to align itself with a left, right, or centrist position; rather, it would take a logical position and seek well-referenced information and the best, most ethical solutions to Australia’s problems.

‘Ethics’ was the crucial principle which would differentiate this party from all others. Ethical behaviour in politics seemed on the verge of extinction; were these people, abusing each other, backstabbing within their own ranks, lying, breaking their own rules – were they really worthy of the people’s respect? They most certainly were not getting it. Public cynicism about politics was rife. Before anything else could be achieved, the issues around member conduct needed to be addressed. To this end, the Progressives created a Code of Ethics which enshrined respectful, ethical behaviour at every level, from online in-house interactions to engagement with members of other parties. The Code is taken seriously and members who breach it, regardless of their position, are subject to a formal disciplinary process which has on a number of occasions ended in expulsion of senior members. The process is time consuming and has held the party back from quick progression into the public eye, but this is deemed the necessary cost of creating a completely new standard of conduct for politicians.

‘Empathy’ was also a new concept in political circles. The treatment of asylum seekers in particular had made many people ashamed to be Australian, with the treatment of our own Indigenous peoples not far behind. Neither major party had had the gumption to admit that there, but for a sheer accident of birth, go all of us. Again, compassion for others was looked on by those in power as ‘soft’ rather than humane thinking. The Progressives take a strong stand against treating human beings as political pawns.

‘Equality’, again, was a sore point in the community. The middle class was in danger of disappearing entirely as the ‘haves’ increased their wealth and advantage, while the ‘have nots’ were portrayed as morally bankrupt and unworthy of assistance to justify reducing their access to financial security and medical support. Divide and conquer was the new order. The Progressives are working towards uniting the community and ensuring that all people are treated equitably and respectfully, regardless of ability, sexuality/gender, race or financial demographic.

‘Evidence’ referenced the growing anti-science movement spawned by the internet and the tendency to justify policy based on, or playing on, personal biases in order to seek re-election above all things. The policies of the Progressives are groundbreaking, in that they are fully academically referenced; the policies, with references, are freely available for public perusal.

‘Engagement’ expressed the need to give politics back to the people, who have often felt that they are suffering under edicts imposed without reference to those they affect. This, again, is an ambitious goal amongst people who are time-poor and financially pressured. Breaking into this hamster-wheel mentality and drawing Australians back into the political process as active members of the party is a slow but vital process.

‘Empowerment’ of communities to take control of their own future is another time consuming and challenging process. The dismantling of a system where elected local representatives are pressured to vote with the party rather than in the interests of their own constituents is an ambitious goal, but one the Progressives believe is the only way forward. Creating a belief that the average Australian can pick up their own power and have a say that matters, beyond casting their vote, will take time and effort.

Australian Progressives is a growing party with ambitious but worthy goals which aim to redefine politics for the good of all Australians. Currently the party is working to achieve state registration in the ACT, NSW, Victoria and Queensland in the near future.

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5 comments

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  1. Jack Cade

    All political parties get infiltrated and betrayed. The Labour Party in the UK, the Australian Labor Party, and the Democrats in the USA bear little resemblance to the parties that the working people set up to break the bonds of the bossEs.
    In Australia, Menzies founded the Liberal Party and was helped into power by the Catholic Church in the guise of the Democratic Labor Party, right wing religieuses. But Menzies knew what snakes they were and resisted accepting Catholics into the party. He knew full well that the Pope had endorsed Hitler, and the Vatican helped smuggle leading Nazis into South America vis Opus Dei.
    But the church bided it’s time and now the Libs are chock full of Catholics, even providing 2 PMs.
    And the Greens? Ah, the Greens. From idealistic tree hugging zealots to closet Liberals in one generation. The Greens have kept the LNP in power since 2013, by voting against The LNP when it didn’t count, and undermining Labor when it did.
    Right now, in Australia, the UK and the USA, there is no political party that actually represents the people.

  2. wam

    Goodluck with your lunettse, edward!
    The reporting, advertising and behaviour of political parties and individual candidates in the last two weeks of an election campaign is when votes may change determining the result of the election.

    oh jack I love your bullshit timeline about the dlp and ming but the micks liked menzies less than ming liked them.
    Sadly f#cking Ming and his WASPS plus the european refugees branded lbor communistic left wing and for the 50s and 60s we marched on the spot.

  3. Cath O'Connor

    Similkar to the Beechworth Principles

  4. Charmaine

    I thought it started with a group of older folks such as myself became founding members with our party registered registered through the AEC, then a group took us to court over the name, i think we even won and then that same group infiltrated our party using the democratic process and BAM Tim Jones founder, gone, party successfully hijacked, most founders walked away as party policy was going to become very different.

    So those who run it now are proudly centrist. Not left.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/28/australias-two-new-progressive-parties-share-a-name-and-mutual-dislike
    “TPA president Tim Jones also saw an opportunity for a new political party; one built through social media and harnessing people power to affect change.

    “There is a glaring vacuum in Australian politics at the moment, and I thought it was a great opportunity [to start a party],” Jones said. “We’ve seen real enthusiasm from people and want to keep up that acclaim.”

    Jones co-founded the March in March movement, which has had a very public split from the March Australia movement. He wants to build on his past knowledge of protest movements by holding grassroots cultural events, such as the popular TED talks, in order to raise money for the party.”

    A WHOLE lot of shenanigans to be where we are now.

  5. Phil

    Politics Smolitics. Murdoch decides who governs Australia, the USA and the UK. He is only too aware how gullible the punters are and that’s as gullible as the day is long. With the Gerrymander getting government is, as easy as shitting in bed. You have to laugh really, the Greens and Labor got 450.000 more votes than the coalition with the Greens getting approx 1.5 1.5 million votes and 1 seat. And putting that pillock Albanese in as opposition leader, has more or less guaranteed Labor another three years in opposition. It’s funny the Labor leader that could have kept Labor in power for twenty years who btw, had a character that shallow he could parachute out of a snakes arse. The fake as a three dollar bill Bob Hawke. Was more in bed with the ruling class than Morrison. Pilger had Hawke sussed as did Tom Uren a minister in the Whitlam government. Toms biography was very revealing. After John Howard working out his asperational’s who mowed lawns for a living were really entrepreneurs in overalls. He gave them an NBN a ute fool of tax deductible tools and voila they were instant Liberal party apparatchiks. Some know how the game is played, some don’t

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