Sunday, October 17, 2021

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HomeIssue 27Northern Territory too big for democracy?

Northern Territory too big for democracy?

By ERWIN CHLANDA

The title of the Ban Fracking Fix Crime Protect Water Party doesn’t roll smoothly off the tongue but it gets the ideas across.

Now after six years the tiny political group with a conservative background has sought to be de-registered with the NT Electoral Commission.

The group did not accept political donations and that may have been a mistake as volunteers were saddled with ballooning tasks, and costs, of administration, campaigning, researching and developing policies while trying to manage their own businesses and caring for others, says member Sue Fraser-Adams.

“Our submission to the Mansfield Inquiry proposed a system to make elections more equitable between all political parties but clearly the large parties do not see that to be in their interests.”

In 2019 the Senate candidate for the party, known then as One Territory, spent the last five days of the campaign working. He said he couldn’t afford not to.

Luckily, Braedon Earley’s (pictured) job day was taking customers fishing in the paradisiacal waters of the Top End and he was able to pitch his policies, between baiting fishhooks.

On one occasion he conducted an interview with the Alice Springs News, without missing a beat, 1000 to the south. 

He saw value in not being bound by party politics and not having to bow to political donors.

“My masters, for my political party, do not live on the eastern seaboard of Australia,” he said at the time.

A fracking ban was his number one priority, to protect the waters of the Northern Territory. Put a value on water, he urged, so it cannot be used at the expense of the environment, and others, for making people in other countries rich on the back of the suffering of Northern Territorians.

He saw the election as about climate change, “make no bones about it”.

For the electorate though, the party didn’t cut through. Mr Earley’s belief that a large chunk of voters were sick of the two major parties, bordering on revulsion for some, was not borne out by the result, with the Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dee, one Labor, one CLP Senate result reaffirmed in the NT.

Fracking, moreover, enjoys the favour of both the Territory Labor Government and the Federal Liberal Government.

These days Mr Earley maintains a personal activism: In August 2020 he went on a hunger strike to draw attention to inadequate Covid Personal Protection Equipment in the Howard Springs quarantine station where he was interned. The problem got fixed.

Meanwhile, instead of maintaining his and his constituents’ focus on the many serious issues facing our town, Country Liberal Party MLA Joshua Burgoyne sends out birthday cards – a gesture some people refer to as “spooky” – and fills his newsletter with trivia. 

Which parties ought to be deregistered, people may well ask and shake their heads.

PHOTO (from left): Mr Earley in 2019, with his clients Mathew James and Michael Williamson, both from NSW.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The problem here is not that the Territory is too big, Mr Earley’s effort’s have just been far too small. Conducting a political interview from his boat while working his business just before election day is merely quixotic, it butters no political parsnips.
    He and his “tiny political group” are tilting at windmills. To win a Senate seat in the NT, where there are only two seats on offer, much, much more is required.
    Even candidates funded by billionaires have struggled. Money is needed, and volunteers, lots of them.
    Just to man/woman the polling booths and to provide scrutineers. Mr Earley should lower his sights and try running for a Council seat somewhere. Even that costs money and time.

  2. With Australia’s tweedle-dee / tweedle-dum politics, the occasional Don Quixote is a welcome distraction. Who else is going to tilt at those windmills?
    Cacareco (1954-1962) was a female black rhinoceros exhibited in Brazilian zoos.
    She is known for receiving many votes in the 1958 São Paulo city council elections as a form of protest vote.

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