Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Minor Importance of Minor Parties

It has been an interesting period over the past couple of months as we the Child Protection Party have embarked on a campaign to have two members elected to the Legislative Council. The battle for recognition and media coverage has been a struggle. We understand that the Legislative Council primarily, and minor parties, battle for a small space in the political landscape. We have come to understand that minor parties have a restricted and sometimes muted voice when it comes to the electoral process.

It is unfortunate that major parties dominate this space, yet it is an important space, where minor parties need to have a voice. It is sad to contemplate that a minor party may win the 10th and 11th seat in the Legislative Council and by doing so will eliminate the voice of another minor party.

During this electoral cycle it has been painful watching the performance of Nick Xenophon as he marches from one media event to another. As an observer of Mr Xenophon for many years and someone who has worked with him as a breakeven gambling counsellor, it is fascinating how he is able to gather media attention to the detriment of parties such as ours and other minor parties.

We all have a voice and that voice needs to be heard. A democracy should not be based on the party or the ideology which is dominant at the time. It should also be based on hearing the voices of those who have significant issues, whether they be singular or multilayered. The Child Protection Party, as do the Dignity Party and other minor parties, represent many of the people who would normally vote for any of the major political parties. It is in the Legislative Council that these people have an opportunity to have their view represented by voting specifically for issues that are specific and relevant to their lives. It is disappointing that those views are not represented via the media.

While energy, unemployment and State development are also important, so are the singular issues raised by all minor parties. The Dignity Party focus on issues which impact thousands of people in this state, and they have a wonderful representative in Kelly Vincent. To my previous point, it would be disappointing to lose someone of her calibre, intelligence and advocacy. We understand that we are pitted against her in a fight for a seat in the Legislative Council, however, we need to acknowledge the important role she and other minor parties play in this state election.

Never before has any party specifically focused on the well-being of children. Until Ms Vincent was elected, no political party had focused on the disabled and the issues they bring to the table. What we represent and what that of the Dignity Party represent are a significant group of voters and in our case, non-voters who need to be represented at the highest possible level. Primarily because major parties do not focus on these two groups of people. Children and the disabled are ignored and should be acknowledged and advocated for by all parties, but regretfully this does not happen. Hence the need for minor parties to take the banner, and fight for these people.

The fight though is difficult and long. It doesn’t end at the voting but continues for as long as we have people who are prepared to continue the fight. Elections come and go and there will always be minor parties who have significant issues which need to be heard. We need their voice, we need their advocacy, we need their passion. It is time that all minor parties joined together as a coalition to advocate with a louder voice and with authority.

It was somewhat disheartening to have the minor parties contact us at the time preferences were being discussed. Self-interest dominated, and anger prevailed. The Child Protection Party takes full responsibility for failing to contact the minor parties prior to nominating preferences. It is evident that some of the minor parties share the same ideology and have similar policies. We could have joined together and discussed those similarities and how we could gain attention from the media. It is my observation that we tend to live in the same bubble, dominated by our own internal issues and our own struggles in getting the message that we think is important to the voters.

The question we need to be asking ourselves is, “do we have significant power and influence as an elected parliamentarian?” The Child Protection Party believes that the sole reason while we are nominating for the Legislative Council is because we can influence decisions on the issues which are important to us and the community. We will filter all legislation that passes through the upper house in light of the impact that legislation will have on children. We have an opportunity to represent all children by ensuring that they have better outcomes than they would if we were not there.