|New Democrats. New Choice. New Voice.
|Upper House: Eastern Victoria Region, North-East Metropolitan Region, Northern Metropolitan Region, Northern Victoria Region, South-East Metropolitan Region, Southern Metropolitan Region, Western Metropolitan Region, Western Victoria Region
Lower House: Kalkallo, Kororoit, Laverton, Melton, Niddrie, Point Cook, St Albans, Tarneit
|In the light of the recent expose of Glenn Druery’s preference wheeling and dealing, ND’s Group Voting Ticket makes a lot of sense. Almost all their preferences are directed towards some combination of Health Australia, Shooters Fishers and Farmers, Justice, Liberal Democrats, Labour DLP, Sack Dan Andrews and – you guessed it – Animal Justice. For no readily apparent reason, Reason and the Greens get a look-in for Northern Metro and Northern Victoria respectively, but by far they’ve kept to the parties with whom they entered into this preference swap.
|None. They’re New, remember?
Policies & Commentary
First things first. This is not a new iteration of the Australian Democrats. The New Democrats (hereafter referred to as ND) have nothing to do with Don Chipp or his successors. They’re also not related in any way to the Liberal Democrats, or the Labour Democratic Labor Party. No, this is an entirely new creation, formed just last month. Its founder is Kaushaliya Vaghela, who you might remember as a former Labor MP who split with the party after she alleged she had been subjected to systemic bullying. The matter was referred to WorkSafe Australia, whose investigation was later ended “on the basis of the evidence … and WorkSafe’s General Prosecution Guidelines”. At the time, Vaghela was vocal in her condemnation of both the government and WorkSafe, and this has filtered through to the ND policies.
Well, calling them “policies” is a little generous. They’re motherhood statements, largely devoid of detail. It’s understandable that a micro-party without hope of winning government wouldn’t be attaching dollar figures to anything, but surely it’s not too much to ask for some concrete proposals? ND doesn’t give us that, though. Instead, we’ve got 12 dot points. And this gives them a lot of wiggle room.
For example, they want to provide more funds for our healthcare providers and hospitals. Sounds great, but what does that mean? GP clinics? Specialists? Dental care? Hospital beds? Nurses? Equipment? It could be any, all or none of these. We have no idea, so we can neither examine nor judge the feasibility of the promise.
Then there’s the pledge to invest more in protecting our environment. This is meaningless without detail. Do they favour solar subsidies? So-called “clean coal”? Clean-up campaigns, emissions standards, gas as a “stopgap” measure? Who knows?
It’s nice to know that ND want to end homelessness and racial and religious discrimination, but it’d be even nicer to know HOW they propose to do that. Ditto local jobs, support for family, the elderly, and the vulnerable, and funding for culturally appropriate support services.
About the only policy areas that have any real information deal with infrastructure, particularly schools. ND’s concern here is not only that new infrastructure needs to be built, but that it should be built in specific areas based on population and suburb growth. See, that’s not so hard, is it? Here’s something we can get our teeth into.
Victoria’s expanding rapidly, and it’s no secret to anyone who lives in outer suburbs that infrastructure just can’t keep up. 1Heck, even in older, more established areas of Melbourne there are real problems that have been with us forever and are long overdue to be addressed. Tried getting around the eastern suburbs without a car lately? ND’s proposal to target areas of real need, rather than to gain votes, is excellent. If only they had more policies as well-defined as this.
ND’s policy list is barely longer than their mission statement – and it’s in the latter that we get some clues as to what’s really going on here:
6. We are anti-dictatorship and will fight to uphold the TRUE Australian democracy (their caps)
This is astonishingly disappointing to find in a list that’s otherwise full of laudable, empathetic principles like respect for First Nations people, women, diversity, and social justice. It’s the kind of rhetoric you find in the rants of anti-lockdown protesters and sovereign citizens. In that world, “dictatorship” is code for “the Andrews government”, and “true” democracy is – apparently – not using the power of government to protect people from serious illness and death. That it’s being co-opted by someone with a self-declared axe to grind against Labor (and Andrews in particular) undermines the goodwill ND are trying to build for themselves.
Ultimately, it’s very difficult to know where to put ND on the ballot. There’s simply not enough meat on the bare bones of their policies to assess them properly, which is extremely frustrating. If they’d spend more time delineating some policy detail rather than giving space to thinly-veiled (or completely open) criticism, who knows how impressive they could be? But we have to work with what we have. ND will be fairly low down in my voting priorities, probably hovering somewhere about the middle.
(Note: we reached out to ND and offered them the opportunity to answer some questions designed to allow them to give more information on their policies, as we did with Neal Smith during the recent Federal election. ND did not respond.)