#Ausvotes 2016: The Personality Party

Are you voting for a name or party?

According to analysts we’re all a bit apathetic this election with our excitement likely to come and go on election day.


Even as I drive down the road I see less smiling faces on stobie poles than usual leading me to question whether our politicians are a bit apathetic too. Of course, we still have a long way to go in this election, I don’t have to wander down the road to the local school for the triennial sausage sizzle for at least another five Saturday’s.

Yet while we have all grown complacent – and dare I say bored – with Federal Politics, I can’t help but feel distracted by this latest phenomenon in Federal Politics. The rise of the ‘personality party’.

The Personality Party: A party where their entire philosophy or set of ideas rotate around one person.

Now I’m not talking about the big personalities of the major parties here. That’s a whole other blog about wearing leather jackets and saying the right things on Q&A can make you really cool, until you actually become Prime Minister. Or how fronting of a reality tv program gives you enough popularity you can take over the free world.

No, I’m talking about the rise of independents and party break aways defining a new movement of politics.

We really saw it come in to play at the last election when we saw the Australian Katter Party then the Palmer United Party. Led by men with big personalities what they really stand for can either be very clear of very vague.

This election we have to add to these parties (in alphabetical order):

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Glenn Lazarus Team

Jacqui Lambie Network

John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party

Nick Xenophon Team

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation

While it may be clear that Derryn Hinch wants justice and John Madigan is about manufacturing and farming,

what does a collective ‘team’ or ‘network’ stand for?

This week I interviewed Nick Xenophon on Radio Adelaide Breakfast. Straight off the bat he pointed out to listeners that his team is made up of a group of like minded individuals who stand for fairness. But when I drilled down in to what fairness looks like to him he gave me an example of helping single mothers with changes to the disastrous 2014-15 Hockey/Abbott budget.

You can hear the full interview here…

But can we take that paradigm of fairness and apply it across the board?

Let’s take a snapshot look at the X Team Refugee and Immigration Policy.

The Xenophon Team’s position is:

Immigrants, including refugees, have always played an important role in Australia. We should continue to encourage safe and orderly immigration to Australia, particularly amongst younger skilled families and investors who will help drive economic growth. 

And when you drill down further you see that while the Team supports the idea of an increased intake of refugees, it does not call for the closure of detention centre’s with our regional partners.

When I interviewed Nick Xenophon Team candidate Matthew Wright about this I felt a disconnect with the team’s policy.

Matthew is a humanitarian doctor who has worked in our region. From my interview it was clear he did not support the detention centres, but supported his Team’s line. My personal impression was when it came to this policy, Nick and Matthew could agree to disagree on some of the detail.

You can hear the full interview here…


So while it may sound like they are like minded individuals, they don’t all see eye to eye. However in this case I was left with the impression it was the Captain’s Call.

But back to this idea of Fairness. When it comes to refugee and immigration policy, who is it fair to?

Is it fair for those in detention? Fair for those Australians who disagree with the policy? Or fair to our global reputation?

Like all political parties there will be a disconnect between policies and parties. The Australian Labor Party have quite a few candidates taking this election as an opportunity to speak out on this contentious issues. However we know philosophically what the party stands for, where it began and what we can expect.

This new wave of parties are yet to deliver us this kind of track record that will comfort many voters at the polling booth.

So for now they are relying on the personality behind the name to define what that means. While that could be fine for some voters, as history has shown us in politics, what you see is not always what you get.