About political parties

These pages are to promote critical discussion about the various political parties and organisations whic operate on the Australian political landscape. They will particularly focus on parties which to varying degrees stand opposed to, or, at least, purport to stand opposed to the iniquitous, corrupt and unsustainable status quo, rather than on those which openly support that status quo such as the Liberal Party and the Nationals. The former category includes the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Democrats, the Greens, the Southern Cross party, One Nation and various far left groups including the Socialist Alliance and the recently revamped Communist Party of Australia. Whilst it is clear that all of these organisations purporting to stand for something better than what we now have are flawed, if not altogether corrupt, it would be a mistake to conclude that political parties will necessarily turn out thus and that operating as an independent is the only possible guarantee against becoming corrupt. The only way that we stand to change society for the better is to act in concert to achieve a common political goal. By definition as soon as this begins to occur then individuals can be said to be acting as a political party. The political party which eventually will emerge to meet the dire challenges facing our society will, in all liklihood, be comprised of individuals emerging from all of those parties as well as many currently unaligned individuals. Even the possibility of an existing political organisation such as the Greens becoming transformed into that new political party should not be altogether ruled out. Please feel encouraged to contribute your thoughts to the discussion whether or not you are a member of any of these organisations if you share our essential goals.

Fix Our Politics

For the 80% of us in the sensible centre of Australian life


We think both Right and Left have failed to empower ordinary citizens and instead created a political and managerial class that puts its own interests before the community and national interest. We also think that about 80% of Australians are of the same mind.

We have a Ten-Point Platform for the coming federal election:

· Restore civility to politics and end the culture wars

· Remove career politicians from Canberra and return to citizen self-government

· Wind back the managerial class so we can reform our institutions

· Break-up the Big Four banks, Big Three utilities, Big Two retailers and One Big Telco

· Limit CEO salaries in companies subject to federal licencing (banks, finance, AusPost) with a cap at 40 times the company's lowest wage

· Return the budget to surplus and eliminate debt by ending corporate and middle-class welfare

· Personalise social services and individualise their funding so they serve consumers and families

· Place a moratorium on immigration until social cohesion is restored and infrastructure and services catch up with our population

· Build a competitive energy market that is source-neutral so consumers and businesses can set their own energy transitions

· Chart an independent course for Australia in security and world affairs without deference to either China or America

We will seek registration as a political party to participate in all forms of our democracy, at federal, state and local levels.

We also want members to come together by industry and interest in Working Commissions in areas such as NDIS, Centrelink, banking, energy and superannuation. We aim to develop political strategies and market-based initiatives in these areas to wind-back the power and patronage of the political and managerial class and empower citizens.

Further details are available at our website

There are many ways in which to become involved. We look forward to your participation.

Vern Hughes
0425 722 890
Civil Society Australia
[email protected]

Practical Ways in Which Everyone Can Improve Society

Not many people are Christians these days. However, there is one aspect of Christian thought which is perhaps worth modern atheists considering. That is the idea that improvement needs to come from the ground up – i.e. from the grass roots. We may lament the poor quality of our politicians, the corruption of political donations, the failure of neo-liberalism, and we may feel we are somewhat powerless against these. Christian thought says otherwise. Christian thought sees society as a product of its members, as a sum produced from the parts. Under this ideology, if you improve the parts you improve the overall organism. Thus according to this idea - which in modern language is perhaps associated with the term synergy - individuals are not powerless. In fact, the quality of the whole depends on the quality of the parts.

So how then do we improve the parts – in this case the individual people? Well firstly we must identify the problems. Here are some that I can see (in no particular order):

  • Increasing aggression (road rage, etc.);
  • Increasing impatience with others – we see them as holding us up, not doing what we want, not agreeing with what we say;
  • Increasing selfishness of various types, not considering others in a myriad of ways;
  • Increased ‘transactionalism’ – seeing others as just a means to an end, not as people (eg. Shop attendants);
  • Lack of humility – if others draw attention to any faults – whether rightly or wrongly – the response is anger and/or indignation.

Now these things could all be linked to the classic Christian vices, but even non-Christians would probably agree that most of the above are undesirable. And if we are honest, most of us will admit to exhibiting one or more of these failings regularly. Under the Christian concept, that is fine, and the secular mind is also unlikely to expect that everyone should be perfect. The traditional way of dealing with this is to practice mercy and forgiveness.

So what I propose is that everyone, Christian or not, spends some time each day reflecting on their own actions, whether they were selfish or not, whether they could perhaps have let that car change lanes in the heavy traffic, whether they were viewing the sales assistant at the shop as a fellow human, or just a kind of vending-machine to dispense what they, the customer, wants.

Perhaps if we all reflect on these points, and then try to improve ourselves in these regards then maybe, perhaps gradually or perhaps quickly, society will start to improve. And as a result people may find themselves much happier if they are consciously trying not to rush everywhere. Maybe rushing to get home to relax is not as good as enjoying life as one goes about one’s business? Maybe some decide to try and do less; maybe many are less angry and frustrated with others if they are trying harder to see things from the other’s perspective and value more the time they spend with them. And maybe, just maybe, people will reach the point where each of us can suggest faults and improvements without being confronted with anger and indignation, but rather humility, a humility which is prepared to accept, in the first instance, that the critic is right and then only after reflection make a judgement on the validity of any suggestions that have been offered.

There are many things that are out of our control. This situation is not unique. Soldiers like Simpson may not have been able to stop the first world war, but they could still do plenty to help their fellow men on the field of battle through selfless action. These actions no doubt made a huge difference in the lives of those they helped, as well their friends and family

The problem is power, and our failure to learn

A couple of years back a Vietnamese colleague of mine told me how his father had to flee from Vietnam (after the war I believe). I asked about his family, and apart from his father, who was an academic, the rest were all farmers. Curious about how bad things really were in Vietnam before the war, and in so-called 'poor developing nations' in general, I enquired about the standard of living of his farming relatives, in particular his uncle - whom we were discussing. The first question was "Did he ever go hungry?". The answer was a no, hunger was never really an issue. The next question was "How hard did he work?" Here I was imagining dawn-to-dusk drudgery in the fields. My friend's reply was 'about four hours a day". At the end of this conversation life as a peasant farmer in Vietnam didn't seem too bad, debt free, and no (or little) risk of hunger or unemployment. However, I was suspicious if this was true generally. So I asked my uncle - who fought in Vietnam - telling him everything that I had heard. "Rubbish" was effectively his reply. Ah hah - I thought, now I will get to hear about the poverty and misery and long hours of drudgery. But my uncle continued on to say, "The men did no work, the women did it all". I was recently discussing Vietnam again with another Vietnamese colleague, and I mentioned how terrible the war was and his reply was, suprisingly, that it had good effects as well. This stunned me somewhat. He continued on to explain that the war helped clarify the priorities of the Vietnamese. After some further discussion I suddenly felt I understood something quite profound. I will try and explain what struck me, and I may be quite wrong about some aspects, so please do feel free to correct me where I am, however, I still feel the fundamental problem of human society today is the one I identify: which is essentially about our inability as a global human society to deal with issues of power. The problem in Vietnam was that women seemed to be oppressed by the men, who took advantage of their willingness to work. The men in turn, were unhappy with their own situation and felt that they were in some way oppressed and sought to rectify this in a bid (maybe well justified) to correct the power imbalance. Of course, this power imbalance was caused by the imperial ambitions (power hunger and greed) of colonising nations, and so the cycle continues. What struck me was: the men were quite aware of their own oppression, yet acting oppressively themselves. What a human failure this is, and it is not an institutional problem at all: it is individual failure on a massive scale, as this lust for power (often with a good dose of greed) underlies all our problems today. The 1% keep getting richer and richer, despite having more than enough money to satisify every possible need, so the drive to continue accumulating more wealth and influence seems to come primarily from a lust for power. Our problem as a society, and perhaps the huge change in consciousness we now need, is to deal with power not by setting up institutions to check power - as after thousands of years of attempts we are are now seeing that the best institutions that 'enlightened' minds can create are still open to corruption - but rather in each of us as individuals. This problem of power underlies many of our major problems from low-level workplace and school yard bullying (which causes as much misery as any misuse of institutional power), of stamping on peoples' rights and ignoring their concerns, and has led, in the end, to governments and nations desperately spying on everyone (their own citizens included) and provoking wars, all to maintain power and influence. The traditional attempts to solve this problem, although they have helped somewhat, have not struck at the root of the problem, and consequently suckers continuous appear from this noxious weed. The feminist movement addressed many injustices, but still women are objectified - perhaps now even more than ever - with 'twerking' etc, things that would have been unthinkable even in the decadent 70's. The idea of the female 'vamp' is still prevalent today, again a seeking of power over others based on sexuality. Thus the feminist movement is perhaps an example of an attempt to stamp on power imbalances only to have desire for power pop up in new forms (and old ones again) here and there. And we only have to look at the history of nations to see how various power struggles have ended up only creating misery. And in the end perhaps - like Vietnam - offering at best only some temporary relief before the same problems resurface again (Vietnam like all nations is now subject to a process of global oppression through trade pacts, and 'race-to-the-bottom' inter-nation wage wars). So what is needed? This is a problem for our whole community to address, and it seems to me that this will logically follow the change of consciousness that nearly everyone is now experiencing as we watch local and global power battles unfold. I think we will soon learn that power is not to be sought for its own sake, and if it is obtained, it is to be moderated - not by relying on outside institutions, but by the very people who hold it. By people controlling themselves. By every citizen's own deep understanding of power and its obligations, and by their own self-discipline. Thus I feel we are beyond 'institutional' fixes for our problems. We now know that no political system will survive for long before it is corrupted by power. The answer instead lies in each of us, in how we raise our children, how we teach them, how we model the use of power to them, and how society and all the individuals in it develop a culture in which power is seen for what is, and is wielded with caution, respect for others, and with wisdom. I personally think our children are up for this, and that this one change would go a long way to fixing the horrors we now see everyday through the internet and on TV and for many in our schools, workplaces and online. We cannot hide from this issue any longer. Such a change in human consciousness seems a necessary and inevitable part of our development as a human race.

What is this thing called "Progress"?

Many people look forward uncritically to a future not too different from the cartoon-world of the Jetsons, where people have mechanical maids, whiz around in airborne cars, and take space-cruises to asteroids and far off planets. Politics continue benignly and poverty has no place. Political rank is preserved in the form of cheerful paternal talking heads, but the slave and servile ranks have been transformed into machines which cannot feel pain or humiliation. A wealthy, not too intelligent middle-class has inherited this astro-playground and keeps order among itself by switching from child to parent in an artificial recreation of the family and original clan system. The explanation for this apparent chronological march to perfection is 'progress'. Belief in 'progress' is the 'modern' state religion, shared by communist and capitalist alike. This is the religion that the West seeks to bring to the East that the United States takes as its holy war against the Muslim defenders of Arab sovereignty over oil who may still seek their reward in heaven, sublimating their rage in the arms of many virgins. It was Calvin who first unleashed the great God of progress, whereby the righteous were rewarded with power and wealth on earth. It was Darwin's thesis, but not Darwin's view, that was adapted to secularise this notion. The variables of population and resources and technology are constantly confused. An interpretation of the demographic transition by Ronald Lee relies on the idea that population growth forces the invention of new technology, although it doesn't say why population grows in the first place and has no predictive ability. There is a space and volume aspect to progress. Progress demands huge amounts of materials and fuel for technology and mass production. As these materials and fuel run out in one locality the progressive economy and its population must expand to locate and liberate them wherever they can be found. The factories of progress demand many workers and their products require many markets. To a point yet to be located, the more workers available, the more materials and fuel can be liberated, the more factories can be built to produce products. Population growth is required for this expansion and expansion would be impossible and pointless without this population growth which creates more markets for the products of progress. This is why we have, on the one hand, an ideology that suggests that overpopulation is a bad thing and another one that suggests that drops in population growth are reasons to panic. The two attitudes have become hopelessly confused by the 'benign demographic transition' which suggests that for industrial societies you must first have overpopulation in order to have populations stabilise at some optimum level. The problem is that wherever population has been inclined to stabilise the priests of growth economics do everything they can to drive population growth up, by promoting higher birth-rates through tax rebates and by promoting immigration because economic growth depends on population growth to drive consumption and to multiply transactions. In the ideology of progress, time is relative only to human aspirations. Einstein notwithstanding, time is goal directed. According to this perspective, we humans face forward and march onward to perfection, every day getting better and better, continuously improving. We are taught to regard the past and old people with contempt because the further away from now, the further away from the future you are, the closer to imperfection, to ignorance, to naivety, to 'inefficiency', to 'primitiveness' or an earlier stage of 'development'. Progress is not just an attractive option; we must have progress. We have no choice. Anyone who would stand in the way of progress stands in the way of wealth and human destiny and must be swept aside for … for …progress. So goes the circular argument. The media market 'Progress' and manage any little rebellions along the way. For instance, as human population growth drives competition for land it brings about ecological destruction and denies people access to familiar places and activities. These changes give rise to concerns over loss of sovereignty and outrage our sense of place. Our reactions to being boxed in and dictated to then tend to stick in the gears of the progress machine. These human limits to the machine of progress are a part of wider thermodynamic processes by which everything from landscape to metabolism simplifies and eventually loses its identity. Progress hastens this process of 'entropy'. The modern mainstream media has evolved as the mouthpiece of corporations. Indeed it has become inseparable from them. It is owned by them and it owns them. It is a collection of corporations with interests in just about everything. It is a collection of seats of power. Media corporations do not just sell TV programs and newspapers. They own and sell property, mines, materials, natural resources, technologies etc. Increasingly they own governments because politicians and governments depend on the mainstream media to deliver their campaigns to the electorates. The corporatised media does not deliver campaigns for politicians that do not do what it wants or who wish to reform it. Politicians who condemn the progress ideology are characterised as kooks by the mainstream media. This does not mean that they really are kooks, but perception is what matters and the media control perception. As limits begin to impose themselves in many different ways on this principle of endless human expansion and populations groan with resentment at being manipulated to serve economies, ideologies and spins must be found to keep the mob moving. In early 21st century Australia, aggressive, self-styled 'no-nonsense' stances set the tone for coercion, as in this manic article for the Brisbane Courrier Mail, Australia, entitled, "Damn 'em all". [Paul Syvret, 'Damn 'em all', 23 May Courrier Mail, Brisbane, Australia.] In it the writer is talking about the Queensland State government's attempts to force a new dam on a region in order to cope with a growing population's increasing demand for water. That the same government invited interstate immigrants to the region and caused the problem in the first place is glossed over. "…. The sky is falling. The end of the world is upon us. Our cities are too big, choked with gridlocked traffic and toxic fumes. …We're running out of energy resources, the greenhouse effect will end up frying us all and as the temperature rises we won't even have enough water to drink. …Fix it, but please, not in my backyard. Or, as the new acronym BANANA, build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything. … Tough." The writer acknowledges that there are scary problems. A stoic supporter of Progress, he doesn't protest at the costs; he volunteers for sacrifices. "Someone has to pay a price for progress. And I for one accept that living in a big, fast-growing city comes with noise, air pollution and, increasingly, higher-density living." Living in a big city is posed as an unquestionably desirable thing. In this way any challenge to the idea that population growth itself might be halted is pushed aside. Anyone who would not desire to live in a densely populated city is crazy, ungrateful, or unrealistic. The costs of supplying water are trivialised; at no time does the writer canvas anything more than the near future. At no time does he question the constant additions to the population. "…Now we are … looking at dams in catchment areas where occasionally water does still fall from the sky, such as the Mary River dam. Yes there will be communities hurt by this. Yes there might be a rare purple-striped eighteen-hyphen gilled trout … inconvenienced by… extra megalitres of water washing around. If you don't like it, come up with a viable alternative." By avoiding questioning the necessity or inevitability of population growth, the writer can use the arguments of conservationists against them by pretending that there is no choice. If there really were no choice then protest would indeed be unreasonable. He hints that more unpleasant decisions are in the wind: recycling of effluent, desalination plants, and nuclear power plants. We are expected to swallow a lot of s*** for Progress. The writer reviews the menu, as he sees it: "Recycling effluent? No, can't have that because, well, because it sounds yucky. Desalination plants? No, no, no … can't have them, they use too much energy. Ah, energy. There's a touchy subject. The tree-huggers don't like coal-fired power because the gases the power stations emit allegedly will cause global warming. But wait, we can't have nuclear power because before you can say Chernobyl we'll all be glowing more brightly in the dark than one of the mutant cannibals from the hills have eyes. Oh, and wind farms are out, too, because a lesser known pink-speckled migratory stuttering sea-albatross might inadvertently fly into a whirling turbine. Buggar. Solar is good, they say. Terrific. Try powering a city with solar panels, which one would think rely on massive amounts of energy in a nasty factory to be produced in the first place, probably using stuff made by a petrochemical plant for their components." The writer is correct to say that many who identify as part of "the Green movement" are energy, technology and population ignorant, believing that we can adjust to endless growth benignly. But the writer himself has no idea of the size of the problem. Most of his proposed solutions are not only finance and energy costly; they are also finite and their expiry dates are constantly brought forward with population growth. But we are assured that the Emperor really does have a wardrobe of new clothes. Granted they will be costly, but the outcome will be splendid: "…Three cheers to Prime Minister John Howard then for truly opening up the debate about nuclear power. Yes, it does work. Yes, its emissions are nothing like carbon-based power, and yes, it's reliable." In fact the cost of building conventional nuclear plants and the energy cost of processing nuclear and managing the products and bi-products are hugely fossil-fuel expensive and pollutant. They are not carbon neutral at all. They use halogenated compounds with climate change impacts many times that of carbon dioxide. In the same way that an internal combustion engine requires a car to be built around it and roads to run on, factories to build these, mines to find materials and economies of scale involving mass production, the nuclear power plant needs huge amounts of infrastructure, mines, chemicals, land, water and transport systems. But clearly Syvret believes that the new 'solutions' will be as elegant as the alternatives will be ugly and atavistic. "New transport corridors. New sources of energy and new water supplies. Go for it fellas, I'm happy my rates and taxes are going towards them. If you don't like it, leave. Go and find some drought ravaged shrubbery outside civilisation to live under, build a bicycle made of dead tree roots and make fire from the leftovers. … ." Needless to say, there are few places to run to due to 'development' and there isn't much firewood, due to land-clearing. We are captives of this 'Progress'. We cannot easily get free. And the writer of "Dam 'em all" wants to dig us in even deeper.