Before we move off (conventional)politics, far be it for me to ignore the minor parties. Because we have proportional representation in our Senate, there is quite some advantage to having a range of fringe politics there. It's not as those our system has been rendered unstable - like Italy's - which, paradoxically, it would be if voters weren't such sheep.
There have only been a handful of parties and individuals who have really made a dent on the scene. I was amazed to see that the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) still exist (though an ABC report says they're struggling to survive). They were big in the seventies but haven't been a force for some years.
The major third party is the National Party but they kind of don't count since they don't present an alternative but form coalition with the Liberal Party. This has always left me a bit bemused since, while both parties are conservative, the Liberals are essentially a party for city accountants and lawyers; their policies of privatisation and less-than-fair laissez faire are not at all in the best interests of remote rural communities who need both their supply of essential services and their industry to be subsidised by the taxpayer.
Only in Australia could a party be formed on the platform of "keeping the bastards honest" and this charmed me and others to the extent that we voted for the Australian Democrats to hold the balance of power in the Senate. But though the party was formed by Don Chipp and there had been a gnomic male leader since, the number of female leaders has made the manhandling Andrew Bartlett seem like a regressive choice. I liked Janine Haines, liked Cheryl Kernot even more, and positively creamed myself over Natasha Stott Despoja (so I was probably thinking - or voting - with my dick when I found myself at variance with virtually all my friends over her political virtues but I still think she's more than a cute blond with cherry red Doc Martens) so it was more than a little disappointing when she was, ahem, rolled after a brief tenure at the top.
Now it's the Greens turn and I, for one, couldn't be happier. Their leader, Dr Bob Brown, is truly the man of the hour.
And, though superficially it looks like a two-horse race, there's still more. Sure One Nation are a spent force (the link is old news now as Hanson and Ettridge were released from prison and the charges dropped but she was unsuccesful in contesting from her new home in Sylvania Waters) but Reverend Fred Nile's Festival of Light trundles on, decades on from the Menzies era (when there was an attempt to have them outlawed)the Communist Party of Australia still exists, as does the Socialist Workers Party and let's not forget Independant Tasmanian Senator Brian Harradine, whose impassioned speech looked like keelhauling the introduction of the GST until Senator Meg Lees went running to the Govt and agreeing to it with nary a by-your-leave.
Whew! Just like elections themselves, this entry has dragged on so I will finally post now (I've been working on it for a week). I hope you're all suitably grateful.
Posted by berko_wills at 12:19 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 21 March 2004 3:23 PM EADT