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The Scrivener: Reflecting Society

On the eve of the Australian General Election Brian Barratt considers some of the candidates who are asking for his vote.

It won't be long before we know if Mr Rudd and the Australian Labor Party or Mr Abbott and the Liberal Party have won. The mass media keeps us informed. However, there are related issues we can chat about. Some of the whims and quirks of the minor parties might have permanent relevance. Some are quite worrying, some are good for a laugh.

There are nine candidates for the House of Representatives in the electorate where I live. We have folk standing for Labor, Liberal and the Greens, plus seven others for minor parties. A local newspaper asked each candidate an identical set of questions. Their responses probably reflect the sort of thing readers in other countries have heard and will continue to hear in their own political landscapes. See what you think.

The candidate for Rise Up Australia wants us to be multiethnic, not multicultural. In that way, people will assimilate into the Australian culture and way of life. She does not mention that the head of her Party, Pastor Danny Nalliah, is an evangelical Christian, a young earth creationist, and anti-Muslim. Does she believe that is Australian culture?

She did not understand the question about a dangerous level crossing which is an important local issue. Nor did she understand the question about the current major national issue of budgeting for paid parental leave which is being widely covered by the mass media. Perhaps it's OK not to understand the job you're hoping to get or what you will be standing for in Parliament?

The young man standing for the Sex Party didn't seem to understand the question about paid parental leave, either. But he did understand the problem relating to the dangerous level crossing. He also stated that he is local, not a politician. As such, one might be forgiven for wondering why he wants to enter national politics. Is there an echo here of the wonderful line spoken by Edward in the surrealistic TV series 'League of Gentlemen': 'This is a local shop. We only serve local people.'?

Another of the minor parties is called the Palmer United Party. At its head is a billionaire gentleman named Clive Palmer. He is well known for his rather unusual projects and plans. For instance, he is currently negotiating with a shipyard in China to built a fully sized, fully detailed, replica of the liner Titanic. As the shipyard isn't big enough and does not have appropriate launching facilities, it is doubtful that plan will get off the ground, or into the water.

His local candidate is refreshingly candid, stating that they have a policy that they are not concerned about the local issues of this electorate but he will find out what they are. That is indeed a creative start for a new Member of the House of Representatives, should he be elected.

Family First is another party with an evangelical Christian foundation. Unfortunately, the local candidate refused to answer any of the journalist's standard questions in spite of six phone calls and seven emails. That's one helluva way of letting people know about your Party's policy and your Christian principles, eh.

The candidate for the Secular Party of Australia certainly understood and responded clearly to all the questions. He summed up his stance by saying that the party wishes to quantify the need for secular government. Readers outside Australia might like to note that our current Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is a regular churchgoer, and the leader of the Opposition is a devout Roman Catholic. How much influence this has on their policies and decisions regarding issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia, is always a matter for debate and argument.

And then we have the Democratic Labour Party, popularly called the DLP, which has a complex history which we won't got into here. Note the spelling, which differs from that of the Australian Labor Party. The local candidate fully supports small business and the many Asian people and their families who are involved in it. He follows the party line in opposing gay marriage and also in the provision of paid parental leave. He asks what is the need for it? When we were raising children, there was nothing. Along the way, he invents a new word and talks about 'the demograph of the population'.

54 registered political parties are taking part in the forthcoming General Election. They include such as the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, Coke in the Bubblers, Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens), and Bullet Train For Australia. And, of course, we have the Wikileaks Party with Julian Asange hoping for a seat in the Senate. Given that he will be living in England, or Ecuador, or wherever, he is hardly likely to be able to take his seat even if he does get a sufficient number of votes.

It's an intriguing task, sorting all this out, but we have been assured in a campaign speech by Mr Abbott, the leader of the Liberal Party: 'No one, however smart, however well educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom.' It is a sad reflection on society that the CNN website thought it necessary to explain what a suppository is. Maybe we need a Save the Suppository Party?

Copyright Brian Barratt 2013


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