"Celebrity Parties"


Over the last few years many new political Parties have been registered with Australia's various Electoral Commissions, either State or national.  It is largely an expression of dissatisfaction with the four major Parties which have essentially grouped into two dominant "coalitions", the Liberal/Nationals and the Labor/Greens.

Many of these newer Parties are (or have been) what we call "celebrity Parties", that is, Parties started by disaffected politicians or wanna-be politicians.

Generally styled after their "leader", names like Katter, Hanson, Palmer, Lambie, Lazarus, Xenophon come to mind.  Interestingly, most of these Parties remain controlled by him or her.  Officially, it is their way of "protecting the Party", but in reality it is more about maximising control so they can get themselves elected or re-elected.

The exception (name-wise, at least) has been Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives, essentially a breakaway Liberal Party that has now effectively swallowed up several "Religious Right" Parties including Family First, Australian Christians and the ultra-conservative Democratic Labour Party.  Distinctly pro-Big Business, Cory has been happily stripping the Liberal Party of members for almost a year now, building his war-chest with thousands of memberships all over Australia, even in States where he clearly has no intention of running candidates for several years.

"Celebrity Parties" are remarkably similar to each other in management style.

  • They are all run from the top down.
  • They are all run from a centralised office which exerts control over individual State "branches" of the Party.
  • They expect "loyalty" and "patience" from their members, promising great democracy in the future, with little in return.
  • All decisions are ultimately vested in the Party leader.
  • All policies are written or approved directly by the leader or by a hand-picked executive.  (Many policies are actually made "on the run" by the leader without any reference back to the membership at all.)
  • The Party leader retains power of veto over almost every aspect of the Party, including finances, policies and candidate selection.
  • Anyone who questions the "leadership" is expelled or suspended, often without any right of reply.

Parties like Hanson's, Palmer's and Bernardi's have no Branches, or other democratic structure.

Irrespective of what the leader may say, there is little or no real opportunity for rank-and-file members, or even candidates, to have any say in the organisation or direction of the Party.  As we saw with One Nation in the recent West Australian and Queensland elections, local members have virtually no say in State or national campaigns (other than funding and running their own local campaign) and little or no input into how rival candidates are preferenced on local How to Vote cards.

Palmer's United Party, now gone altogether, was anything but "united".  The leadership stranglehold on the Party ultimately destroyed it completely.  Others have yet to learn the lesson.  Clinging to power or demanding subservience from members does not inspire others to leadership.  It stifles enthusiasm, ensures cronyism and nepotism (even corruption), and breeds discontent that eventually tears the Party apart.

Personalities aside, Australia needs more than a protest Party or colourful personalities in politics.

We need solutions!  We need a genuine alternative that will work for all Australians.  Something fresh, democratic and positive.  We believe that Australian Voice offers just that!

2 December 2017