I've said my piece about the major parties and their appalling pork barrelling, but that doesn't mean I automatically support independents and minority parties.
Juxtaposed against the short-sighted self-serving politics of both major parties, I have been impressed by the Greens, despite having never voted for them, and by independents like Wilkie and Windsor.
But I have to recognise there are also some absolutely terrible independent candidates (Lambie and Leyjonhelm are currently elected examples) who are worse - yes that's possible- than the major party alternatives.
As well as the examples I just cited their will undoubtedly by an extremist Christian party (I’m not actually talking about the Coalition even though there is a strong case to describe them this way) and no shortage of single-policy parties that show little understanding or interest of anything outside their pet issue.
One of the most concerning parties is the Health Australia Party, whose innocuous-sounding name is part of its danger. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a party that wants to prioritise health by increasing government spending on hospitals. This is a party that wants greater recognition and funding for ‘natural medicine’ alongside ‘pharmaceutical medicine’ (which most people just call medicine).
I first became aware of this when it floated across my newsfeed in social media, but before I wrote anything I looked up their home page and read through their policy document. Sure enough, alongside some reasonable-sounding statements about preventative healthcare, responsible government and taxation are some ominous references to putting natural therapies on an equal footing to medical treatment and the rights of people to decline medical procedures without fear of sanction (which sounds like code for an anti-vaccination policy). Both the policy document and the linked articles show a deep distrust of ‘chemicals’ including fluoridated water (but not medicinal cannabis, somewhat surprisingly) that implies a serious ignorance of organic chemistry. Seriously, these are not people I want having any voting power in Canberra because one day a government might have to do a deal with them- and that could come at significant cost.
While slightly less surprising than the tin-foil hat wearing crazies of the Health Party, the early front-runner for the most unpleasant candidate I have come across is the repulsive Peter Madden, who is standing for Family First. I don’t really need to say much about him. His infamous tweet, shortly after the Orlando Massacre pretty much tells you all you need to know about him
Wow! With that kind of pitch, does Madden even think he is a realistic chance of being elected? I am a little sceptical. Not that the state isn’t weighed down by conservative anchors like him in the Tasmanian Legislative Council, but voter understanding of Tasmanian upper house candidates is pretty murky (although I reckon those that voted for their recent 10% pay rise may find voters are a little more informed on that particular issue at the next election). But back to Mad Madden who is campaigning for a federal seat and less likely to slip through due to voter indifference. As such, I am not sure he is a realistic chance- at least I hope he isn’t. Surely Tasmanians are not that stupid.
I suspect what he is doing is more about preparing the ground for the expensive and unnecessary plebiscite on marriage equality. It is worth remembering again that we are only having this plebiscite so that Malcolm Turnbull didn’t have to show any real courage of his own. Now both sides- progressive and homophobic- are manoeuvring in preparation for it. Family First obviously feel the community needs to be desensitised to the offensive and insensitive language they will be relying on in the lead-up to the plebiscite.
But it might backfire. Madden, and by association Family First, will be pretty much defined in Tasmania by his tweet and his slogan-covered trailer that he drives around Hobart. That memory will last beyond the election.
We can only hope anyway. Please Australians, think carefully about who you vote for in next month's election. There are some really bad choices you can make and ignorance is not much of an excuse.