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Political Fragmentation: The Challenges Posed by a Possible Lifeline for the Re-Election of the Federal LNP

By Denis Bright

At a time of internal chaos in the federal LNP Government, political fragmentation still offers a lifeline back to government by Scott Morrison or one of his successors if current polling levels continue to deteriorate in 2022.

Beyond the more mainstream of the far-right minor parties with recent federal parliamentary representation, there are over thirty minor political parties registered on the AEC site. Minor far-right parties come and go after fulfilling their divisive purposes. Almost twenty minor parties have been deregistered by the AEC since the 2019 elections to be replaced by a new exercise in social division.

The formation and registration of minor political parties is of course an essential component of a heathy democracy if these political parties are operating in The We The People Traditions.

Minor political parties can become a sinister force if they are merely delivering votes back to One Nation, the UAP, the Liberal Democrats or the more populist regional leaders of the federal LNP.

Recent amendments to The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Party Registration Integrity) Act 2021 (Party Registration Act) have raised the transparency of minor registered political parties a little. There is a new threshold of 1,500 signed up members for continued registration, annual registration fees and some administrative controls on operational practices. Complaints about breaches of these protocols can be made to the AEC.

While the AEC is quite strict on the accountable enforcement of the amended administrative protocols, there is still tolerance of saturation levels of advertising from generous political patrons.

Expect more fragmentation as voters are attracted to the specific issues raised by minor far right parties with support from well-funded advertising. Details of the extent of Clive Palmer’s campaign spending emerged after the 2019 election (Paul Karp in The Guardian, 23 September 2019):

In the wake of the surprise Coalition victory at the May election, Palmer said he had “decided to polarise the electorate” with an anti-Labor advertising blitz in the final weeks of the campaign, rather than attempting to win seats for the United Australia party. In the final week alone, Palmer spent $8m in electoral advertisements.

The submission noted the party was reported to have spent $60m on a “contentious” campaign that failed to win a single seat but Palmer “claims to have secured the Coalition government’s win with his preferences”.

Strategic deals between minor far right parties and the LNP achieved three senate spots in four of the states to deliver a total of 36 LNP senate places seats. With the votes from the two senators from One Nation, the LNP can pass legislation through both houses of parliament except in those situations when Labor votes with the LNP.

A National Integrity Commission can and should support the AEC in supporting the grey areas of political party registration and transparent campaign spending disclosures which are not covered by current AEC controls.

With its control of 23 of the 30 federal House seats in Queensland, the federal LNP has the capacity to use tax-payer funded electorate allowances to promote its logos through regular mail outs of cards to householders, brochures to attract postal votes and mobile offices festooned with LNP propaganda.

In the 2019 senate count in Queensland, One Nation benefited from the exchange of surplus quotas from LNP senators and preference flows from other minor far-right political parties

Some grey areas of campaigning should be scrutinized by the AEC and any future National Integrity Commission.

At previous state and local government elections for the Brisbane City Council, the LNP set up a Postal Vote Application Centre (PVA Centre) to harvest postal votes from across metropolitan electorates for delivery to the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ). These PVA Centres are fully controlled by the LNP. Transparency also requires that the costs of these PVA Centres are fully declared as campaign expenses and not written off as legitimate electorate allowances.

Well funded minor far- right political parties can identify themselves with divisive wedge issues through the purchase of political polling data and intel from soft media and mobile phone and computer app devices. This alignment is particularly challenging to Labor’s broad electoral base in regional, outer suburban and inner-city electorates.

The deteriorating state of national leadership from the federal LNP might assist Labor to bridge these policy divides which cost it government in 2019 through net losses of seats in Queensland and Tasmania and a failure to gain new seats in WA.

Dr Jim Chalmers as Member for Rankin and Labor’s Shadow Treasurer is highly adept at talking up these essential policy compromises with support from the latest ABS statistical data:

Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure, Australia

  • Total new capital expenditure fell by 2.2%
  • Buildings and structures fell by 0.2%
  • Equipment, plant and machinery fell by 4.1%

The stagnation in private sector investment, the housing and rental crises and the state of infrastructure commitment is highly relevant in the very electorates where far-right minor parties have gained political traction in 2019.

Labor has responded with the release of sustainable emission targets for 2030 as noted by Katherine Murphy in The Guardian (3 December 2021):

Anthony Albanese will set an emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030 and boost the share of renewables in the national electricity market to 82% if Labor wins the coming federal election.

The ALP leader has unveiled Labor’s most electorally risky policy commitment since the 2019 election defeat, declaring a more ambitious target would spur $76bn in investment and reduce average annual household power bills by $275 in 2025 and $378 in 2030.

Guardian Australia revealed on Friday the shadow cabinet had signed off on a 43% target, which is lower than the 45% medium term target Labor promised at the 2019 election, but higher than the Morrison government’s Abbott-era commitment of a 26-28% cut on 2005 levels.

The primary mechanism Labor will use to reduce emissions faster than current projections will be the Coalition’s existing safeguard mechanism. Improvements to that scheme are expected to deliver emissions reductions of 213 million tonnes (Mt) by 2030.

These compromises can assist in bridging the divide between affluent inner metropolitan suburbs and those many disadvantaged regional and outer suburban struggle streets.

Let’s hope that the electorate is listening to the need for policy compromises to elect a majority government that addresses the havoc caused by three terms of LNP government by ensuring that Labor’s poor results in Queensland, Tasmania and WA are not repeated again. The current tally of thirteen Labor seats out of over fifty available seats certainly justifies the policy compromises.

 

Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.

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37 comments

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  1. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Denis.

    I’m not sure that I understood it all. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t.

    However, one question has arisen for me. How many far-left tiny parties are there, if any? I realise that the far-right is much more likely to have funding, which would go a fair way to accounting for the surprisingly large number of these divisive little parties, but if you or any of your readers could come up with info about the far-left, I’d be grateful.

    There are also, of course, the single issue parties that crop up here and there from time to time, and which are neither far-right or far-left. In Tasmania, Jacquie Lambie now has her own party, and it seems will be running at least one other candidate here. (As I understand it, Lambie originally ran for the Senate largely because she was concerned about veteran service men and women. Since then, she has become a sound all-purpose independent.)

  2. leefe

    Kate:

    Is there really much – if any – organised far left in Australian politics?

    Jacqui Lambie is a long way from perfect, but she genuinely cares, she actually listens to people, she studies to be better informed about policy, she learns from her mistakes. We need more like her (and not just because she’s Tasmanian).
    She’s against the voter ID bill, against the religious discrimination bill … one can almost forgive her brief past dalliance with Palmer. Especially since tearing Pauline et al to shreds.

  3. Terence Mills

    Morrison will soon be reaching out to his good mate Clive and his old friend Can Do Campbell !

    The coalition of the deplorables is about to get bigger.

  4. Kate Ahearne

    leefe,

    ‘Is there really much – if any – organised far left in Australian politics?’ I suspect there is, but maybe not organised as political parties.

    Anyhow, I agree with everything you say about Jacqui Lambie. She really was pretty naive starting out, and no doubt Clive took full advantage of her earlier on. But she’s learned on the job, and turned up trumps. I don’t always agree with her, but she’s certainly grown as a politician, and I’ve become a big fan.

  5. Phil Pryor

    They must have swept up the post-cup Flemington stables and stuffed the reeking heap into a huge skin looking remarkably like C Palmer, Swine Extraordinaire… as for the runt nearby in that photo (Gag, chuck) is it a slide of the C Newman plague poxicle?

  6. Leila

    Harvesting of data from soft media, phones and computers to promote social division is worse than Orwell’s1984 scenarios.

  7. Sarah

    The United Australia Party (UAP)went out of existence in 1945. Its policies were associated with some of the worst years in contemporary Australian history including lack of preparation for the war with Japan.this is no model to build a future Australia.

  8. Henry Rodrigues

    The conservatives and Murdoch know how to manipulate the voters and corrupt the system, just introduce and fund and organize as many minor , one goal ‘political’ parties as possible, to spread suspicion and divide the allegiances of those unsophisticated uninterested voters. The fat bastard from Qld is just one such creep, and the coalition pretend they don’t even know who he is, and all the while his aim is to deny Labor and the Greens a majority is a s many seats as possible, sometimes by just a few hundred votes. Its a gerrymander on a huge scale and they all know it. Its stuffing democracy in the most blatant but legal way. And the fat bastard will be suitably rewarded afterwards..

  9. Lara

    Is Australia drifting to the Dark Web to re-election the same style of government each time?

  10. Kaye Lee

    “The current tally of thirteen Labor seats out of over fifty available seats certainly justifies the policy compromises.”

    But that ignores the fact that Labor won 55 of the remaining 100 seats compared to the Coalition’s 41. If they go too far to appease the minority they risk losing some of that advantage.

  11. Kate Ahearne

    Kaye,

    That’s what I’m worrying about. Appeasement by the Brits gave Hitler the time he needed to arm himself to the teeth.

    I truly hope that Labor will have the courage to come out and just state their position on a great many subjects. It’s time for courage. Might be the last chance we’ll ever get. Clock is ticking.

  12. Michael Taylor

    Morrison won’t have to do anything to win the election. Just leave it all to Clive and Uncle Rupert.

  13. Towards More Left Unity

    Left wing parties are always able to register as political parties. The Socialist Alliance has sometimes made it onto the ballot paper as a registered party. I noticed in the Brisbane seat of Lilley that the Socialist Alliance ran a local candidate in 2019. SA gained just under 0.80 percent of of the formal vote. Preferences from the Socialist Alliance brought a net gain of 325 votes to the Labor candidate in a very close result. A huge flow of Green preferences got Labor over the line in Lilley with a net gain of over 9,000 votes after the distribution of preferences from its 13,539 primary votes.

    Communist Party candidates did not make it into federal parliament prior to the 1950s but usually stood candidates in Labor heartland seats. The CPA gained 10 percent of the vote on some occasions in the Newcastle based seat of Hunter.

    In the garrison city of Townsville in 1943, the CPA won 34 percent of the primary vote in the federal seat of Herbert. There was a state CPA member of parliament in the adjacent seat of Bowen. Barrister and activist Fred Paterson represented Bowen in state parliament for two parliamentary terms. He was severely injured by a police officer in Brisbane while offering legal advice to demonstrators in the prolonged 1948 railway strike. His parliamentary seat was abolished in a redistribution of state electorates.

  14. Kate Ahearne

    Hi, Towards Left Unity,

    Wow. Thanks for the info.

    Can you tell us anything about now?

  15. Kaye Lee

    The Coalition currently hold 76 seats in the HoR. They may win Craig Kelly’s seat back but the redistribution of electoral boundaries also means they are probably one down so call that square. (though it’s no certainty that ex-state Liberal Melanie Gibbons will win in Hughes). They only have to lose one seat and we are in minority territory where they have to go negotiate with the crossbench. Labor holds a notional 69 seats, so needs a net gain of four seats from the Coalition to hold more seats in the House.. That should be easily doable.

    If we really want to hope, there are 7 Coalition seats held by less than 3.3% which, if they went to Labor, would give them majority government.

    0.4 LIB Bass (TAS)
    0.5 LIB Chisholm (VIC)
    1.4 LIB Boothby (SA)
    3.1 LIB Braddon (TAS)
    3.2 LIB Reid (NSW)
    3.2 LIB Swan (WA)
    3.3 LIB Longman (QLD)

  16. Kate Ahearne

    Kaye I live in Braddon.

    Seen it come and go, come and go.

    We don’t seem to be very ‘informed’ here, as a community.

    Some of us are, though. Fingers crossed.

  17. Chris

    Formation of a majority government is the only real agenda for worthwhile change in the year ahead.

  18. Michael Taylor

    I lived in Boothby for decades, which was traditionally 20 miles further to the right than Alan Jones. It’s good to see the seat is winnable for Labor.

  19. rubio@central coast

    The polls are favourable to Labor this time again. Poliitical sectarianism within the Left bloc has tp be toned down to keep it this way. Even within Labor circles, there is still too much emphasis on orthodoxy. There is no one correct path ahead and policy risks must be taken which do not appeal to everyone. Labor right plays a radical role if it can deliver government and better senate results to make the passage of legislation smoother. I welcome Labor consensus on emission targets.

  20. Paul

    The minor right–wing parties have an appeal to people who are attracted to colourful logos and advertisements. Unfortunately, their spirit of protest is offering a lifeline to the Morrison Government.

    Thanks for the amazing article again Denis.

  21. James Robo

    Our future is more secure when the possibilities are openly canvassed.

  22. Tessa_M

    A failed Premier and a canny billionaire have combined forces to bring Australia into the Dark Ages. They combine just enough votes to be a nuisance and a barrier to the necessary change agendas.

  23. Kaye Lee

    In a press conference announcing the Pfizer vaccine had received TGA approval for five to 11 year olds, Hunt said that the government is “reviewing daily and weekly travel restrictions” but that there are “no plans to change the current proposals”.

    “But our message is very clear,” Hunt said, “safety and medical advice first… if the medical advice changes then we change the rules in accordance with that.”

    How does that gel with their election strategy of getting government out of our lives? On the one hand, they admit that health advice must dictate when restrictions are needed, but on the other, encourage dissent against that same advice.

    I remember when Pauline Hanson was considered a national disgrace rather than someone to be courted.

  24. Kaye Lee

    Ted,

    Sorry but that just isn’t true.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2021/12/02/fact-check-more-children-not-die-vaccine-than-covid-19/8740405002/

    When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.

    https://vaers.hhs.gov/data/dataguide.html

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires health care providers to report any serious adverse event (including death) that happens after a COVID-19 vaccination – whether or not the provider thinks there is any link. The CDC says, “Health care providers are required to report to VAERS the following adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination…regardless if the reporter thinks the vaccine caused the AE.” AE stands for adverse event and includes death.

    That means that if a vaccinated person drowns, gets in a car crash or is struck by lightning, their death must be reported to VAERS as an adverse event. Since we’ve vaccinated over 223 million people in the United States, many deaths will occur coincidentally after vaccination.

    https://www.nebraskamed.com/COVID/does-vaers-list-deaths-caused-by-covid-19-vaccines

  25. margcal

    I’m with you, Kate Ahearne!

    Give me a clutch of Jacquie Lambies (or Ricky Muirs – remember him?) any day over “career” and “professional” politicians. They believe/d in people and causes other than themselves. You can forgive such people a few mistakes as they learn on the job, especially as all the grooming you get from the likes of the IPA or being a staffer isn’t likely to make a better politician. I don’t/didn’t agree with all positions taken by Lambie or Muir but they think/thought a whole more about issues than self-interested brain-dead party-line followers do.

    Has anyone charted the decline in parliamentary standards of all sorts in conjunction with rise in numbers of career politicians?

  26. Michael Taylor

    Well said, Kaye. There’s nothing like a good set of facts.

  27. Kaye Lee

    The head of the TGA, Prof John Skerritt, said the Pfizer vaccine had been “extensively clinically tested” including a trial of 2,500 children aged five to 11.

    “The response of the body, the immune response, was identical to that in young adults,” he said. “There were … no safety problems identified in those trials. The children had some of the same things that adults get – tiredness, sore arms, headache and so forth – but these tended to be brief and fairly short-lived.”

    Skerritt said there were 2.3 million Australian children in the five to 11 age group and currently one-fifth of all Covid cases were in the under-12 group. That “may actually be higher for the Omicron variant”, he said.

    Skerritt said while “most kids” got a mild infection from Covid, about one in 3,000 developed a multi-system inflammatory condition and “can end up being very sick for months”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/dec/05/australian-children-aged-five-to-11-set-to-receive-pfizer-covid-vaccine-from-mid-january

  28. Kaye Lee

    Vaccines that use mRNA technology are not gene therapy because they do not alter your genes.

    “As mRNA is genetic material, mRNA vaccines can be looked at as a genetic-based therapy, but they are classified as vaccines and are not designed to alter your genes,” said Dr Adam Taylor, a virologist and research fellow at the Menzies Health Institute, Queensland, Griffith University.

    “Gene therapy, in the classical sense, involves making deliberate changes to a patient’s DNA in order to treat or cure them. mRNA vaccines will not enter a cell’s nucleus that houses your DNA genome. There is zero risk of these vaccines integrating into our own genome or altering our genetic makeup.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-covid-mrna-gene-idUSL1N2PH16N

  29. Kaye Lee

    Ted,

    I am trying to address your concerns respectfully but I draw the line at ” Once on a digital passport, we are potential slaves of a social-carbon credit system = State interference till the day one dies.”

    That’s what we call a Gish gallop

  30. Michael Taylor

    Yesterday there was a story about a girl in Texas who claimed that the vaccine got her pregnant. 🤦🏻‍♂️

  31. Michael Taylor

    The push to get 100% uptake relates to a financial reset and behaviour modification agenda. Once on a digital passport, we are potential slaves of a social-carbon credit system = State interference till the day one dies.

    Ted, this site isn’t really one for conspiracy theories.

    You are of course entitled to an opinion, but a bit of evidence – from reputable sources – to back it up would be useful. Without such evidence, you’re opinion cannot be taken seriously.

  32. Kate Ahearne

    Gosh, Ted.

    You really blew it when you took on Kaye Lee. I don’t always agree with her myself, but her command of the facts is beyond extraordinary. I don’t know if she keeps it all in her head, or whether she has a truly brilliant filing/reference system.

  33. calculus witherspoon.

    Less. Ted Talks, puhleeese!

    Sorry Ted, its a wanker-free zone.

  34. Roswell

    “Ted Talks.”

    That was funny, cw. 😀

  35. corvusboreus

    Calculus Witherspoon is just racist against onanists.
    “I WANK & I VOTE!”

  36. GL

    “Scott Morrison repeats that Australians have ‘had a gutful of governments in their lives’” Except of course for his gubmint, just the the one’s that aren’t his gubmint. In that case why are why we even bothering with an election? The bullshit from Mr. Marketing of the Policy Vacuum has become…click…become…scritch…become a scratched record.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2021/dec/05/australia-live-news-updates-omicron-covid-cases-pfizer-vaccine-approved

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