Two events in the past month – one public, one personal – have reinforced every concern a serious liberal republican could have about our political system. Grassroots political activity is under threat, and not just from Covid nonsense and David Elliott’s Stasi fantasies and attacks on freedom of association.
The first is the passage of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Party Registration Integrity) Bill 2021 on 26 August, assented to on 2 September 2021. This raises the threshold for registration of a political party to 1500 members from 500. This serves no purpose other than making it more difficult for fourth parties to get started and hold the majors accountable. Yes, it’s three majors. The Greens are part of the establishment.
This is completely consistent with my earlier observations of how our political system is designed to protect those major parties.
The second event is this political activist’s experience engaging with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). I’m going to be active in the upcoming Federal election (read into that what you will), and contacted the AEC with a range of questions relating to organisational structure, authorisation requirements, approvals and so on.
AEC offices are closed. For “Covid reasons”. No-one was present (then or since) to answer a telephone call. A message directed me to send an email, and indicated I’d get a response in five working days. This I did.
At 7 working days I sent another email.
It is now 10 working days. No response.
All I can imagine is that, to no-one’s surprise, the hardworking public servants at the AEC view Covid protection as an excuse to take time off while being paid, and enjoying their latest pay rise. While the rest of us suffer and have to take personal responsibility.
But equally, it shows who the real customer is for the AEC. And it ain’t the grassroots.