Gerard McManus’s article, ” A political vacuum waiting to be filled” (News Weekly, May 13 2006) reads like a manifesto for the Family First party and is unworthy of the usually high quality editorial policy of your newspaper.
McManus suggests that, with the Australian Democrats and the Greens seemingly in decline, Family First might be the party to fill the “resulting political vacuum”. In this context, he makes a very passing reference to the Rev. Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party and states that “morals crusader Rev. Fred Nile has never been able to extend his success beyond New South Wales”.
Family First currently holds two seats in the South Australian parliament and one seat in the Federal Parliament; the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) holds two seats in the NSW parliament. The second seat held in South Australia has been gained only in the last six weeks. Does this extra one seat across the various parliaments of Australia make such a difference?
Family First’s Senator Steve Fielding holds his Senate seat in Federal Parliament with a primary vote of 1.88 per cent – which happens to be the exact equivalent percentage to the primary vote gained by the CDP Senate candidate in Western Australia at the same election.
Senator Fielding got elected on preferences from the Australian Democrats (the Democrats preferred Family First ahead of the ALP and the Greens in Victoria in exchange for receiving Family First preferences in WA immediately after the CDP).
At the last federal election, in New South Wales, the CDP received 2.61 per cent of the upper house vote, and Family First 0.56 per cent. In Western Australia, the CDP received 1.88 per cent of the vote, Family First 0.85 per cent.
At the 2004 Western Australian state election, the CDP received 2.93 per cent of the primary vote in the Legislative Assembly, Family First 2.02 per cent. At the recent Victoria Park by-election, the CDP received 3.49 per cent of the primary vote, Family First 0.96 per cent.
In Western Australia, at the 2004 state election, the CDP received the fourth largest Upper House vote, ranking ahead of both Family First and the National Party. Four years earlier, in 2001, the WA branch of the CDP was ranked last (ignoring independents and micro parties) after One Nation, the Nationals and the Australian Democrats.
These results not only show that Family First does not fill any vacuum in NSW and WA, but they also underline the tremendous growth experienced by CDP in WA.
In another article in your same publication, Joseph Poprzecny analyses how the WA Liberals and Nationals are currently in self-destruct mode. The “one vote, one value” seat redistribution in WA would not have occurred without the support of the Greens who were elected on the preferences of the National Party.
In the upper house Agricultural region, the CDP candidate missed a seat narrowly by some 90 votes. The opportunities therefore exist for the Christian Democratic Party in Western Australia to displace both the Greens and the National Party in the country regions of the state and become indeed also a champion of ordinary Australians holding mainstream values.
The Christian Democratic Party’s policies encompass a broad range of issues and are certainly culturally relevant to contemporary Australia. Under the general umbrella of the “culture of life”, CDP has developed policies on issues such as small business, welfare, industrial relations, Aborigines and the privatisation of essential services (Telstra etc.) that reflect what the majority of Australians are worried about and which would appear to resonate positively with the general readership of your publication.
National Hon. Deputy Senior President and
Western Australian State Director of the
Christian Democratic Party,