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Policies & Commentary
According to the ballot, Smit & Jonas are ‘ungrouped Independent’ candidates running for the Victorian Senate. It’s pretty easy to find Jonas’ policies, but for Smit’s you have to go to the website for Reignite Democracy Australia (hereafter referred to as RDA).
Nominally, RDA badges itself as more of a lobby group, I’m sorry, “An advocacy group aimed at maintaining individual and collective liberty.” It holds rallies, puts out videos that have a strong anti-vaccine, anti-mandate, and, well, anti-government message. Now, it’s not illegal for a candidate to have an affiliation with any given legal organisation, and still run as an Independent. In fact, it seems to be all the rage this election (looking at you, Australia One and Rebekha Sharkie). However, Smit isn’t just affiliated with RDA. She’s its founder. She’s its Authorising Officer for its political messages. RDA’s website is the only place her policies can be found, and her campaign videos are hosted by RDA. A little disingenuous, therefore, to be hiding herself behind the badge of “Independent”.
To say Smit’s had a colourful history is an understatement. A vocal presence during anti-lockdown protests, she was notable for suggesting that older people’s deaths were not too high a price to pay as long as younger people were able to retain their ‘freedoms’. “I know it’s harsh, but back in the old days, kings would have to sacrifice some of their men for the greater good of the country … Don’t you think a 90 year old person who has lived their full lives out would be happy to be a casualty in order to save millions of people’s livelihoods?” (my emphasis).
(Excuse me for a moment, I have to go and look at some videos of red pandas being adorable.)
She was also involved in a class action against NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant, and Victorian deputy chief health officers Deborah Friedman, and Benjamin Cowie, claiming that Covid-19 public health orders were unconstitutional, and constituted assault. She’s perhaps best known, however, for being charged with incitement to break public health orders regarding travel and masks, via posts on Telegram where she encouraged people to attend protests in the Melbourne CBD without their masks. The trial is still pending.
As for Jonas? Well, he used to be a candidate for the United Australia Party, but inexplicably severed ties with them just three weeks after being endorsed. Now he’s apparently running as an Independent, too. But wait. Not only is Jonas affiliated with RDA to the point where his media appearances feature on RDA’s website, he’s also engaged to Smit. All in all, then, neither of these candidates are terribly ‘Independent’.
But does that really matter? I think it does. If you’re going to utilise the resources of an organisation that depends on donations for its funds, then the least you can do is nail your colours to the mast and register that organisation as a political party. Otherwise, the average voter is entirely deceived when they come to the ballot box, perhaps looking for an alternative to the major parties. I’m certainly not suggesting this is the intent of Smit, Jonas, et al, but it is the result. And it begs the question: why?
Perhaps the answer lies in the policies, most of which can be found in responses to a questionnaire devised by RDA. Yes, Smit and Jonas are answering a questionnaire they were probably involved in designing. No wonder their answers are so in line with RDA.
I’m not going to go into detail about the Covid-19 policy, which can best be summed up as opposed to every kind of public health order that might possibly ever be made ever again to protect Australian people, because ‘freedom’. Other policies follow a similar refrain: the World Health Organisation, described by RDA as one of several global, non-democratic bodies, is targeted, as is the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Australian Medical Association (AMA). WIth the latter two, RDA wants to either repeal or replace them with independent bodies of independent medical professionals who are committed to upholding the Hippocratic oath, doctor patient relationships and uncensored clinical discussion of disease and treatment.
Of course, this is an utter furphy. AHPRA and AMA are already independent bodies. Smit and Jonas, through RDA, just don’t think they’re the right kind of independent.
The rest of RDA’s questionnaire follows a similar template. Investigate this. Eliminate that. Generally, if it had anything to do with the pandemic, RDA wants it dissected under a no doubt stupendously skewed microscope, and then flushed away.
And then there are the personal policies, which are extremely disturbing. Let’s look at Smit’s first, which read like a parody of a 1950’s “women’s magazine.”
Smit is virulently anti-LGBTQIA+. She refers to the Safe Schools program as “perverted,” and I won’t repeat what she said about transwomen. Suffice it to say it’s about as horrible as you’re probably thinking.
She’s big on homeschooling – in fact, on absolute parental rights in general. (Except, no doubt, if parents wanted to protect their children from Covid.) She grudgingly allows that mothers can work “if they want to”, but suggests that something be done to enable families to survive on one income – obviously, the fathers. ”Restoring the family unit, not breaking it apart” gets a look-in, too. No qualifiers, no exceptions for cases of family violence. One might reasonably draw the inference that Smit is as anti-divorce as she is anti-everything else.
Jonas, on RDA’s website, naturally agrees with everything in the RDA questionnaire. He extends his ambitions much further than simply doing away with public health, however, wanting nothing less than ”a special private auditing team to evaluate every area of government, identify and eliminate wasteful spending and begin the process of terminating unneeded public sector employees”. In common parlance, he wants a razor gang to sweep through the public service like a wave of the Delta variant through an unvaccinated population.
His other policies can be found on his website – that is, the one’s he’s gotten around to writing. There are 22 policy headings, but only half of those have been filled in. The rest say only, ”Coming Soon”. As you might expect, they’re largely about how awful the government is, how our ‘freedoms’ need to be protected, and an alarmingly isolationist stance when it comes to global trade and treaties. We should leave coal-fired power stations where they are, Jonas opines, apparently oblivious to the fact that decommissioning has less to do with the embrace of renewable power than with ageing infrastructure. Oh, and how good is nuclear power, why don’t we have more of that?
Perhaps the most tellingly self-serving policy on Jonas’ website has to do with social media, titled “Censorship.” The internet was supposed to be free, and instead the Voices of the People are being suppressed, Jonas laments. Which voices, specifically? Oh go on, I’m sure you can guess.
Yep. His voice. Smit’s voice. The voices of all those who spread misinformation about Covid-19 and the various vaccines and rightly found a “misinformation” notice attached to their posts. All those who found themselves banned from Facebook and Twitter after they encouraged people to break the law. Those who whined about the unfairness of protecting older Australians when they couldn’t go and get a latte in a cafe 5.5km away. Who incited people to break public health orders, and gave advice on how to avoid police. Who set up a gallows outside the Victorian Parliament and screamed for Premier Dan Andrews to be hanged.
This, then, is what Smit and Jonas promise you: an Australia cut off from the rest of the world, where vulnerable people matter less than the “right” of someone to go to a cafe, and where a woman can work. But only if she wants to.
Oh, and just in case you were still thinking that maybe they’re not so bad, here’s a video from only a few days ago, in which Smit exhorts her supporters to go into aged care facilities and “help” residents to fill out their postal ballots. It doesn’t matter whether those residents are relatives, relatives of friends, or complete strangers. It doesn’t matter whether those residents might not even want any help from anyone other than the usual electoral officials who visit facilities to provide unbiased advice. Smit wants to make sure that these most vulnerable Australians – who she said should be happy to die – vote the way she thinks they should.
If that doesn’t convince you of the proper place for Smit and Jonas on your ballot, nothing will.
Note: RDA’s website lists a number of candidates. These include candidates from several political parties, as well as Independents. It’s not known whether these candidates agreed to be portrayed as de facto representatives, or at least allies, of RDA, or whether they thought they were just answering a policy questionnaire from a community group. It is, however, telling, that these candidates, by and large, are in broad agreement with RDA’s ideological stance. Frequently appearing parties on this list are the Great Australian Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the Informed Medical Options Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Australian Federation Party, and the United Australia Party, but there’s also a smattering of Independents, and one each from the Australian Values Party, the ALP, the Fusion Party and the Animal Justice Party.
Just a reminder that Loki and I lack the necessary Eurovision knowledge to choose the songs that Catherine liked to include, but we’d love to see what you suggest in the comments below 🙂