Bennelong 2022 - Those Damn Preferences

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So, I need to denote preferences, much as we all say "you can choose your own preferences", it seems obligatory. Notably, Labor has been kind enough to put me at 3rd, and I need to do my bit. But, in the fine John August tradition, I can't just make a list, much as know people would put forward that list without the thinking behind it, and say "Aha! Look at John August's preferences! What does that tell you!".

But that assumes someone can be bothered ...

Previously, in the Pirate Party, preferences were determined by a vote amongst all members. In the Fusion merger, it's a bureaucratic rabbit warren, and I'll make my own way, but be willing to be corrected if Fusion or Pirate central pull me up. Needless to say, they're probably preoccupied elsewhere. Separately to my preferences, though, there are the Fusion upper house NSW preferences, which you can look up separately.

If you've seen me at candidates forums, I've said "I don't want to compare myself to the other minor party candidates ...". It's what I'm now doing - with mixed feelings. I'm happy for there to be a box saying "I do not wish to vote for any of the candidates below". I'd hope people would want to vote for me. But, I'm equally understanding of people who don't want to vote for anyone.

I need to be careful. Even though I'm a candidate, I don't want to get myself into legal hot water. If you're wanting to cast a valid vote, you need to number every box. I know that means you reach a point where you don't want to choose between the remaining candidates, thinking them as all equally bad. But, well, the state wants to legitimate Government, and claim that there's been a notional majority electing the representative in each seat. There's a process behind the oppression we endure. Neither you nor I can escape from it.

Perhaps you've heard it before. I'll echo it here. If your first preference does not get in, once it gets down to a two-horse race, the order in which you preference those two candidates will in fact determining who does get in if it's an even split. You don't "waste your vote". Further the Morrison Government claims that voting for independents ( minors too, I guess ...) is "destabilising". It that really means they're running scared. If you want to believe Morrison here, I'll leave that to you. Still, I'll recognise some good points about the Liberal Party, so please don't dismiss my ranking as narrowly partisan. We'll get to that.

First preference: John August. Well, derrr.

Second preference: Kyinzom Dhongdue, Democratic Alliance.

I'm concerned about hypocricy in Australian foreign policy, including Assange, but also Timor Leste, witness K and similar. I've noted Chinese hypocrisy, and gave a speech in support of Hong Kong students at Sydney University. You'll find it as part of the radio show I broadcast, in this recording. Still, we were happy trading with China till what they'd been doing for ages suddenly became a concern, and that just because I challenge China, does not mean I'm pro-US. It's messy. But I do my best.

I've previously covered Drew Pavlou's challenge to Chinese influence at his University, and was certainly sympathetic. I'm likewise sympathetic to the position of his local candidate, Kyinzom Dhongdue. The party stands for good things. I think the Pirate Party has a more detailed and comprehensive position regarding foreign policy, human rights and numerous other issues, but nevertheless sympathise with the the Democratic Alliance, and put Kyinzom at number two.

Third preference: Tony Adams, Greens

While the Greens have an interesting policy package, I nevertheless feel that Fusion has a diverse strength to draw from, while not being stale. We believe in the continuation of the Lucas Heights reactor, and within the Pirate Party branch, don't feel Nuclear Power should be off the table as a solution to Climate Change. We're also pro-market ( with some nuance). You can hear some details of our economic policy in the podcast here. We've also been challenging problems with intellectual property policy, privacy and the regulation of the internet - which the Greens went along with.

Still, they stand for many good things, and so I place them at third preference.

Fourth preference: Jerome Laxale, Labor

Now, Labor have numerous problems, including that Gillard went along with taking a swipe at Julian Assange, and they've gone along with dodgy internet regulations and undermining privacy that the Liberal Party has supported. Still, much as I see the worth in the free market, I also see that the Liberal Party have eroded worker's rights and had their own problematic pro-business bias, with Labor being alternative here.

I've been impressed with Mr. Laxale's record on council, and much as his administration was not perfect, I recall the "bad old days" when Liberal Party aligned people had majorities on Council. Here, things get complicated, because an issue is - can you support Mr. Laxale separately to your feelings about the Labor Party? For sure, I'm more impressed with Mr. Laxale than I am with the Labor Party.

Labor Parties have done dodgy privatisations, reducing the immediate tax burden but condemning us to pay more in the future, and senior Labor Government figures have gone on to work in cushy jobs in the very industries they were regulating. Just like in Nuclear War strategy, you look at the "least worst option", and you can see the present Labor Party in Government as that. But, if they have free reign, that's its own problem. Perhaps you see the current Liberal Government as stale, prompting its replacement. Fair enough to replace them with Labor. But, wait long enough, Labor will become stale, we'll chuck them out and we'll be back where we started. So, while maybe you'd want a Labor Government, if they have a blank cheque, that's its own problem. So, it makes sense to first preference someone other than Labor. Preferably me, of course, but hopefully you see my point.

Fifth preference: Simon Kennedy, Liberal Party

I think the Liberal Party have lost the plot, though they did in the past stand for something positive. But, can you separate out the candidate from their party?

I know people will think that putting Labor ahead of Liberal means I'm necessarily "pro-Labor" and can be therefore categorised and dismissed. But, let me tell you: I look back and think I should have voted for Dr. John Hewson, not Paul Keating. Because, we ultimately ended up with four terms of John Howard, which I think was much worse. And, after the election, I started to reflect. And I realised I'd been sucked in, betrayed by the anti Dr. John Hewson rhetoric by Keating at the time. It was in fact one of my moments of political awakening, and I'd forever look twice at the Labor Party after that.

Then, there's Malcolm Turnbull. I stood against him in Wentworth. But, even then I couldn't help but be impressed. Interestingly, while there was a majority for the Liberal Party in both the upper and lower houses, about 15% more votes went to him in the lower house - there were a lot of people who were willing to vote for "Turnbull" but not "the Liberal Party".

I saw lefties chucking rocks at Turnbull. But I found myself thinking - if we have to have a Liberal Government, Turnbull's not such a bad option. And if you chuck rocks at Turnbull and the Liberal Party too much, eventually they'll tire of the experiment of having a sensible person at the helm, and replace him with someone worse that John Howard.

You know what happened? We got Tony Abbott. ( I wrote about Turnbull and Abbott here. )

I look back to the Menzies Government. It decimalised currency, and increased the pension. It was positive in its way.

But, let's not have rose coloured glasses either. Menzies took us to Vietnam, let the Brits test nukes in our backyard, embraced the White Australia policy and protectionist approaches. Some claim to have reached past the current Liberal Party and be going back to the original Menzies values. But you need to pick and choose if you're going extract a decent set of values from Menzies' heritage.

But, look - initiative, self-reliance, enterprise, resilience - at least on paper, these are positives. But look at the reality under Morrison - a pro-business bias, bringing a lump of coal into parliament, playing to people who want to covet their assets through franking credits and other means, refusing to acknowledge the climate linking to bushfires, turning up to electric vehicle photo ops when convenient, and then proclaiming they would "kill the weekend".

And when it comes to Covid - a string of announceables. Now, the story from the Libs is that we've done well internationally on Covid. But while it has not been a total mess, it could have been a lot better. Remember Morrison wanting to go to the footy? Remember the orders that were supposedly placed for vaccines, and the roll-out that was a lot slower than promised? You could imagine Morrison phoning up the offices of the pharmaceutical companies in Europe at 4am local European time and leaving a message on their answering machine, and then claiming he'd placed an order. It was a real mess. There was the Federal Government app, and we weren't going to get out the woods without it, till it was quietly dropped. So, yes, Covid was not a complete mess. But it really does feel like a lame defence when you look closer.

For Covid, I recognise it as a threat, along with worth of vaccines, stay at home orders and mask mandates. But, at the same time I look at how Government handled it and shake my head. Doctors who immediately grasped it was a respiratory illness were shaking their heads at the inept quarantine that was set up.

Then, you have the people claiming it was an affront to our personal civil liberties and Government over-reach. Most of them, though hadn't really noticed how the Government had dealt with Mr. Assange, Witness K, or the Assistance and access bill. But, once the Government was affecting you, well they must be channeling Chinese totalitarianism.

But, as has been noted here, that's a false dichotomy. Democracies have long been doing this sort of dramatic intervention, it's just that we've forgotten the last time they did. You can be concerned about personal freedom and make some necessary interventions without ever thinking you'll do the multitude of invasions of personal liberties that are part and parcel of Chinese society. ( that's another podcast from the person who interviewed me above, I'd better acknowledge that. )

So ... Covid was a real and legitimate threat. Vaccines were always going to reduce it getting bad when you did get it, but their ability to stop it from propagating was limited. However, at the same time, Government really stuffed up, and you can see that some of that resulting from the leakage of their pro-business bias. And, to be sure, there's lot's of other Government initiatives, like for example, the Assistance and Access Bill & the treatment of Witness K, that are representative of a trend of creeping totalitarianism. But not Covid initiatives by themselves.

So, now we get to the local candidate, Mr Simon Kennedy. First, is it legitimate to separate his candidacy from the status of the Morrison Government? To some degree that's up to you. You can of course put Mr. Kennedy ahead of Mr. Laxale. You can also vote him as first preference. That's your choice.

I've outlined the issues I have with the Morrison Government above. And, if you accept Mr. Kennedy's position, he has a considered and positive approach to global warming, with business experience to back that up. Still, you can see the Liberal Party being dominated by anti- global warming forces till recently, and wonder if the pro-global warming forces in the Liberal Party have any effect so far, or indeed will ever. The writing was on the wall; the Liberal Party reacted to that; the pro-global warming forces within the Liberal Party were always irrelevant, and you could reasonably imagine things staying that way. But ... maybe Mr. Kennedy has a point?

If the Liberals end up in power by a good margin - say 5 seats or so - maybe it will be good to have Mr. Kennedy as a part of that Government. However, the better option may be for there not to be a Liberal Government in the first place, and that's an important crux to consider. It depends on how you weigh up the two possibilities.

Mr. Kennedy has made two other observations of current politics; I'll now comment on them.

The first is that his candidacy was the result of an internal election by the Bennelong Liberal branch, while Laxale was the result of an invitation by Albanese. Well, keep in mind that Morrison has made controversial captain calls elsewhere, like Katherine Deves in Warringah ( if you know you're going to lose, make sure you do it in style ...). For sure, that's not the case here in Bennelong, but it's not like it's representative of what Morrison is up to everywhere either.

Yes, Mr. Laxale was invited by Albanese. Still, he does have a history of being active in the area; we're not talking about someone "helicoptered in" from outside, normally the cause for additional criticism. I don't know the machinations in the local Labor Party branch. Was some up and coming individual sidelined by Albanese? Maybe. Still, have you been to one of those AGMs for a community group where everyone looks at each other and says "OK, who's going to be President this year?". Maybe there was no problem with what Albanese did, though we can see problems with what Morrison did elsewhere.

Then there's how people have been harping on about Morrison, and it has been personal personality politics. Now, to be sure, Mr. Kennedy has not done those personal attacks. But let's roll back the clock to Abbott and Gillard, with the repeated claims of "Liar" and "Ditch the Witch" and so on. I can sorta see where Mr. Kennedy is coming from, but to more credible he should have recognised that the Liberal Party have done this sort of thing in the past, and then say it was sad wherever and whenever it happened. Not as dramatic a claim, but much more defensible.

I look back on John Howard's negative campaign when he entered parliament. I look back to Keating's negative campaign against Dr. John Hewson. And, I think, John Howard must have been taking notes. Learning from the master. And not just notes. Copious notes.

I was in fact impressed Mr. Kennedy's credentials, combining an environmental and business approach. However, there's also his interactions with anti vax groups, where he says "I'm pro-individual freedoms, I'm anti-mandates". Further on, the recording claims he's willing to cross the floor. There's a bit of a jump in the recording, and you wonder why.

On being challenged about this, I recall Mr. Kennedy saying he was willing to stand up for what he believed in. Now, it's great that you're willing to stand up for what you believe in, but what you believe in may be its own problem. Again I'm critical of the Government's response to Covid, but also have problems with Mr. Kennedy's approach. His audience also mentions the Canadian academic Jordan Peterson. I've had my issues with his approach.

So, I have problems with both the Morrison Government and Mr. Kennedy's overall position. But, for sure, you may feel differently, and I can understand that. Assuming you're willing to vote for me, feel free to flip Mr. Kennedy's and Mr. Laxale's positions. Or, indeed vote for Mr. Kennedy outright. It's up to you.

Sixth Preference: Dougal Cameron, Liberal Democratic Party

Now, Mr. Cameron ... I was originally tempted to put him above Mr. Kennedy.

For some things, there's an overlap between the approach of the Pirate Party and the Liberal Democratic Party. We've in fact been impressed with the way the LDP articulated how the state and religion should relate to the institution of marriage. We sympathise when the LDP talks about insidious bureaucracy. We sympathise when the LDP talks about individual freedom. But, we do believe in public health, public education, and a Guaranteed Minimum Income.

And, Mr. Cameron's YouTube channel talks about him going to a "Socialism" conference. Now, being left libertarian, I likewise found myself a bit of a fish out of water at this conference. It was hard to contribute as an outsider, but people would try to be friendly with you, approaching you out of the blue in the foyer. People would phone you up invite you to successive conferences, and I'd tell them I was a pirate, each year it would be a different person and it would be news to them. But in spite of hearing about the Pirate Party for the first time on the phone from me, they remained confident there would be stuff of interest to me at their conference. I tried to talk to Jeff Sparrow at that same conference. I'd been intrigued with his writings on "The Weaponisation of Atheism", much as I'm also a fan of Christopher Hitchens and have misgivings about US foreign policy. But he didn't want to know me. Never mind. I've been ignored by much more famous people than him. While I think Dougal was trying to be polite, they were also being provocative in their way in turning up to the conference, and were thrown out. It's an interesting narrative. Sure, maybe it was appropriate to get them to leave if they were actively disruptive, but it seems all they were doing was being there. Point is, in isolation, I have to be impressed by this sort of initiative. I myself would have liked to have seen an interaction. But there's more to the picture.

If you check out Mr. Cameron's position, he seems to be an unabashed fan of China. Sure, you can see China's economic policy as having reduced their poverty. Yep. But, you also have the Chinese abuse of human rights. Remember the Tienanmen Square Massacre? Their oppressive one-party Government? As an outsider, it seems strange to me that a party that so claims to promote human rights and the prerogatives of the individual has a candidate that is blind to the more general human rights abuses in China. He seems to be so much in favour of a market economy that it stops him from seeing anything else. Maybe I don't understand, but that's sure how it seems to me.

I understand from Kyinzom that she was disappointed that Mr. Laxale had the LDP candidate placed above her. I appreciate that Mr. Laxale put me in number three position, but ... struggling to keep so many balls in the air at once ... I don't want to repeat his mistake when it comes to the LDP candidate. Keep in mind my criticism is not of the LDP or this candidate's approach more generally, but just his blindness about China.

Seventh Preference: Rhys Collyer, United Australia Party

I see the UAP as promoting the financial interests of Clive Palmer, and of taking advantage of unrest around Covid. Still, in times past Mr. Palmer has had a quite positive approach to refugees. Their policy around interest rates and housing seems misguided to me. Our approach looks at the history that has brought us here - Howard's changes to the tax system. I think it helps to be historically informed.

Still, Mr. Collyer seems a decent person who pointed out to me an update in the questions at a recent candidates' forum. I left home that afternoon and was unaware of that update when I reached the forum. I'm puzzled at the fact that someone medically qualified would get involved with a so called "Freedom Party", but I'll leave that as something between him, his party and you a voter.

Eighth Preference: Victor Waterson, One Nation Party

This is another case of the candidate vs. the Party. Pauline Hanson originally was concerned about Asian refugees, and then Muslims, wearing a Burqua in Parliament. Some time ago she was against vaccines, but supporters who were concerned about regional hospital facilities and wanting to be sure their children were vaccinated got the jitters ( yes, things have changed). And then, into the mix, Ms. Hanson has opportunistically had a go at other minorities ... including at one point, Autistic people.

If you can put all that to one side, and you see Mr. Waterson in person, he does sometimes say something sensible about urban development. At the same time, he jumps around a lot, and has the sin of "whataboutism". ( I say more about such "clangers" in Australian political debate here) Sure, the thing we're talking about may not be the only bad thing, but I never claimed it was. I think that making a difference here would be a good thing, which is not to claim there are no other problems. Surely, though, you can start somewhere ...

Still, in spite of giving Mr. Waterson some credit for things he says sometimes, I'm not will to look past his association with One Nation, and the history of Pauline Hanson. He seems to think that Ms. Hanson's record is of saying one thing some time ago, but I see things differently. Though for sure, if you see that Mr. Waterson's position makes sense, you can vote for him ... just as you can vote for any candidate.

Including me too, needless to say.

Authorised by Roger Whatling, 4 Merewyn St, Burpengary QLD