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Friday, 2 January 2015

Democracy at work - The AIM Network

Democracy at work - The AIM Network

Democracy at work

Just how powerful are we as voters? Very powerful, writes Sir ScotchMistery.
And our power lies not just in how we cast our vote at the polling
booth, but in how we can decide in whose name appears on the ballot

Over the last few weeks we have all been moaning mournfully about the
nature of “democracy” in Australia and the fact that today it really
doesn’t exist. What we are suffering under the moment is far more an
oligarchy led by three or four wealthy people telling another person who
wishes he was wealthy (and as far as we can tell, still a pommy), what
to do.

I have done a bit of tweeting on the subject and people keep coming
back to me saying “30 independents in every house of Parliament in
Australia will allow right wing nut jobs (RWNJ), to overtake the

Whilst I accept that there is an element of this which may be true,
the same possibility applies to left wing nut jobs but whatever the
result, if done properly there is no reason for Australia not to have 30
independents in each house of Parliament, each representing the needs
and aspirations of their electorate.

The electorate of Indi,
with its centre in northern Victoria, took it upon itself to oust the
sitting “liberal” member, Sophie Mirabella, on the basis that she didn’t
appear to be representing anybody but the Liberal party, and most
certainly not her electorate, which she had supposedly “represented” for
the past 13 year, from 2001.

Indi did it differently.

In general, when we think of an “Independent” running for parliament,
we see in our minds eye somebody deciding that they are good enough to
take on the incumbent or conversely are prepared to put their time,
effort and money up to run a campaign against the incumbent, in their
own right. In fact the path to Cathy McGowan taking the seat of Indi,
had nothing whatsoever to do with her deciding she was good enough to
take on the incumbent.

During 2012, a small group of young people from the area decided they
weren’t being represented properly or effectively, and from those 12
people grew a movement of over 3000 volunteers who basically door
knocked the entire electorate, which was a task in itself when one
considers that the division of Indi, which has been part of the
Parliament of Australia since Federation, having been one of the
original 75 divisions proclaimed at Federation, continuously, covers an
area of 28,567 km² along the NSW border from Rutherglen to Corryong in
the North, Kinglake and Woods Point in the South and Falls Creek, Mount
Hotham, Mount Buffalo and Mount Buller in the east. As you can see, a
huge electorate which needs a lot of miles driven to cover it.

Anyway, these young people and their volunteers who ended up
numbering in excess of 3000, door knocked the entire place and asked
people what they felt were the important things to take into Parliament
as their “issues”.

The result of these “kitchen table conversations”, was a document Voice for Indi which became part of “Indi Shares”. The resultant Voice for Indi website
became a way for those people who initially met, and their volunteers
and the people who decided that the basic premise was correct, and that
they weren’t being represented by Ms Mirabella, or the LNP, to engage,
to keep in touch, to fund raise and eventually to launch a run into

In June 2014, the “Indi Shares” at Oxley in the rugged hills around
Warrnambool resulted in around 100 people getting together and talking
about making a difference in Australian politics. Politics without the
parties, in a space where the “candidate” was employed by the electorate
directly, rather than having to survive on their own means.

My memory of it was that around $180,000 was raised by those people
to fund the change, rather than being dependent upon the resources of
the candidate, or more importantly, of a party machine with its
associated apparatchiks, and their predilection for parachuting
candidates into the house.

Once the document had been put together, A Voice for Indi advertised
for a candidate to work within their guidelines (as set by the members
of the founding group, the results of the document from the kitchen
table conversations, and input from volunteers).

Again, from my memory, which is getting rather rusty, the money
raised went to funding things like campaign paraphernalia, T-shirts, and
operations office and the expenses of the candidate, to allow her to
behave as if she had already been elected, from the time she was
employed by the organisation. In other words, Cathy McGowan was employed
directly by the members of the electorate.

In and of itself, this is not a hard call. It is rather a matter of
finding a committed core group of people prepared to put time effort and
some money towards the process of locating somebody to properly
represent them as electors, and further to more widely represent the
needs of the electorate, including the issues important to the mostly
(in this case) Conservative electorate. No one in the whole process was
disenfranchised by the movement and one of the people we met during the
Indi shares conference, was a farmer who had never ever voted anything
but conservative.

The one thing that has to be said is that nobody can launch an
election campaign for election with no money and it would be unfair and
inappropriate to expect someone outside of the likes of Clive Palmer
perhaps, to completely fund their own campaign to unseat one of the
party faithful. In this situation it requires a gathering of like minds
to get together and sort out funding, directions, plans and vision, then
to find somebody appropriate to present those issues to a Parliament
which no longer represents the needs and aspirations of the Australian
people, but rather represents the direction the ALP and LNP wish to take
the country in terms of its interface with United States and Europe,
including rushing into any war that the LNP decides is good for us, and
signing and “Free” trade agreement the US tells them to.

We have 18 months to find 30 independents for both houses in the
Federal Parliament, and a further three years to do the same thing in
every State government house. This perhaps is the only way to change the
current unicameral system in place in Queensland, and also get us back
to a proper “democratic” form of Parliament not only in Queensland but
in the whole of Australia.

In conclusion I would add, that to paraphrase Charles F Aked – ‘all
that is required for the parties to win every time, is for good people
to do nothing’.

I hope that somewhere in Australia are a few hundred people who see
this, OUR COUNTRY, as something more than the indistinct shadow of a
star on “old glory”.