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Drinks with the Sex Party

20 June 2016 No Comment

Drinks with the Sex Party

The pundits keep telling us that this is a dull election.

But imagine what it would be like without the minor parties. I did a quick sampling last week of some of them. At the very least they add some zest to the campaign. Few have much chance of winning a seat in the lower House but with the reduced Senate quota, some have realistic hopes of picking up a Senate seat.

Take the Christian Democratic Party. Its president is the Rev. Fred Nile MLC who has served 35 often tempestuous years in the NSW Upper House (where he learnt a thing or two about politics.) He is not standing in this federal election but his Party is fielding a candidate in every House of Representatives electorate in New South Wales. None expects to win but all of them will contribute to their Party’s chances in the Senate. One candidate quotes the Gospels: All things are possible for him that believeth.

The Sydney Institute last week gave Fred Nile a platform from which he dismissed ‘marshmallow’ Christians or churches which ‘sit on the fence’. He supports Israel and favours a refugee policy that gives priority to Christians. He boasts the support of some conservative homosexuals and atheists. He also claimed that since the deposition of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, former members of the Liberal Party are switching to the Christian Democrats at the rate of 20 a month. He was loudly applauded at the Sydney Institute.

Or take the Australian Sex Party, whose Senate candidate in NSW, Professor Ross Fitzgerald, also spoke at the Sydney Institute. It has a catchy name, one MP (in Victoria), and a collection of policies ranging from voluntary euthanasia to legalising the recreational use of marijuana. (Their federal leader Fiona Patten MP says she has enjoyed the ‘many blessings’ of cannabis). It is still unlikely to win a seat on July 2, despite the smaller Senate quota and despite what Anthony Green called the ‘complex quota mathematics’ of Senate voting (capable of driving some voters mad). But it is not without hope. All it needs is a better than usual primary vote and a tight exchange of preferences with other small parties.

Professor Ross Fitzgerald is much less of a Party-liner than some of his
Sex Party colleagues. He supports the Party on ‘dying with dignity’ (voluntary euthanasia) and same-sex marriage. But he is ‘not sure’ about ‘gender fluidity’ or the merits of an ‘atheistic republic.’ He wants to tax profit-making religious institutions but rejects any call for ‘an all-out war on the Roman Catholic Church’. (‘If I were a Christian, I would be a Catholic.’) But he agrees with Fred Nile on the evils of booze. He received a rousing reception.

One curiosity at the Sydney Institute was the unwillingness of the audience to accept the usual hospitable glass of wine. One observer claimed this was because Christian Democrats never touch a drop and Sex Party followers are reformed alcoholics! This can’t be altogether true. At the ‘official’ Sex Party launch at the Pyrmont Point Hotel- – a lively, jolly affair restrained only by a whip-wielding chairman – Pat Sheil, the candidate for Grayndler against Labor’s ‘Albo’ Albanese, denounced ‘brainless bigots and religious wowsers’ who want to impose a nanny state. He went on: ‘We don’t want their lousy advice, gutless legislation and twisted ideologies.’

Peter Coleman, ‘Spectator Australia’, June 20 2016, Front cover and p xi

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