Elections 2010 – The Bad

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Election 2010 - the good , the bad, and the ugly

This group of parties and individuals – “the bad” – actually comprise the middle band of candidates: they’re not great but shouldn’t wreak too much damage on the country. As before, marks are assigned from A (the best) to F (the worst)

The Greens: D
The Greens are very lucky to have Bob Brown.
Brown presents well and is extremely diplomatic. He lends a veneer of legitimacy to a party that is otherwise littered with serious problems and internal contradictions, that are usually ignored by their supporters and some in the media.
The Greens are much more than Bob Brown. Greens deputy leader, Christine Milne, is actually far more representative of the party. in both style and substance
She exudes a superiority as a birthright and sets herself apart from “ordinary” Australians and will have to reinvent her political persona entirely if she gains the leadership upon Brown’s retirement. Just a few moments of watching her on YouTube or on Q&A should be enough to turn most people off voting Greens for a very long time, and according to some of the twitter responses to her  aggressive and patronising performance on Q&A several weeks ago, that is exactly what she succeeded in doing.
Another example of the gulf between the Greens and the wider electorate comes an environmental forum held in the run up to last year’s Higgins by-election, in which candidates from a number of parties touted their environmental credentials. The audience was almost entirely composed of  environmental activists so winning over the room should have been a given for the Greens candidate. But somehow with  the toxic mix of arrogance and aggressive moral superiority, Clive Hamilton, the Greens candidate, lost everyone within the first minute of speaking.
The final example is Senator Hanson-Young and her igniting the  the ‘no means no’ controversy. All of a sudden the Greens announced that a phrase that thousands of parents use to discipline their children on a daily basis can now only be used in reference rape, and any person who uses it otherwise is insensitive and advocating sexual abuse. Never mind that she said nothing when another Greens Senator, Scott Ludlum, earlier uttered the phrase well within earshot of Hanson-Young. This speaks of hypocrisy and political points scoring that the Greens would like to pretend is only the purview of the major parties.
Hanson-Young’s brand of hysteria is likely to be the future of this party, but the Greens current problems are just as significant.
The party is known for their strong beliefs but not their ability to compromise. In the Senate, the most best type of party to hold the balance of power resembles the old Democrats, genuinely looking for compromise without stopping the governing of the country.
The Greens are the opposite. They are generally obstructionist, slowing the senate – sometimes to a complete stop – so that they can get their opinions on the record. Rather than work, they seem to have more fun showboating for the  media and their constituents. There are some positive signs that they are learning this important lesson in governance, but for the smooth running of the parliament such lessons need to be absorbed far more quickly.
A pretty good rule of thumb in Parliament is, the more you are in the chamber, the less important you are. The Prime Minister and Treasurer are almost never there, since they have work to do in their office. They don’t have time to spend  on the floor of the House, unless they have important business there. The back benchers are there more often but are also not a permanent fixture. Bob Brown and his gang , on the other hand, seem to be a constant feature in the Senate. And it is virtually impossible to go through a day in Parliament without Green members contributing their two cents worth.
And then there are the contradictions in policy. They promote a small, sustainable Australian population but are against restrictions on immigration. They support women’s rights and freedom of choice, but vocally  support of a number of  regimes that actively oppress women.
They are ideologues, unburdened by practical concerns, and proudly take up the area to the left of Labor. But this is not what we need from our third parties. While it is good that the people the Greens represent have a voice, the most useful third parties are in the middle between the two parties pulling them towards the centre, helping to improve legislation based on the greater national good, rather than a narrow ideological position.
Finally, the Greens occupy a luxurious position: they enjoy a considerable public profile and media attention which they use to propound their impractical moralistic agenda. They do not, however, currently wield any real power, so they do not have to worry about coherent and consistent policy. The moment they are in a position in which their platform can be implemented, their internal contradictions will soon be exposed.
There is only one exception to my Greens antipathy: the 6th Greens candidate, Liezl Shnookal will receive a higher preference on my Senate ballot. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a silly name.

Joseph Toscano: C
While a list of anarchists (in the sense of not believing in government) on an election ballot may seem a little contradictory, there is nothing conventional about Toscano, who is standing as an independent.
While some of his policies are in all likelihood unworkable, that is not a reason to ignore him. The most compelling reason to vote for him,  would have to be the degree to which he would shake the government and the electorate out of their lethargy.
His beliefs are mostly anarchist or socialist, advocating mostly small or no government, while still helping out the little guy.
His greatest strength is his strong personality which would bring a number of issues to the fore that would find popular support outside of the parliament. This would raise the profile of issues that are too often ignored in Parliament.
It is important, however, to take into account Toscano’s preferences in order to get a complete picture of the candidate. The main beneficiaries of his preferences are socialist and other far left wing parties. This points to a man who is leaning closer to radical socialism rather then true anarchism.

Carers Alliance: B
The Carers Alliance are essentially a single issue party, who are standing for greater assistance for carers around Australia.
While this is an admirable goal and would lead to a better Australia, they lose marks for being a single issue party. Single issues are better suited to lobbyists, not members of parliament.

Democratic Labor Party (DLP) – D
The DLP are essentially the Labor party with a heavily Catholic influence, except that the members of the party are genuinely labourers rather then the career party functionaries that populate the Labor party.
This gives them a advantages and disadvantages over their hated sibling (and they do hate each other).
They genuinely understand the plight of the average worker, but on the other hand they are very conservative in their social outlook, and are looking for tighter government controls in many areas.
Imagine a Labor party that was conservative, such that they were anti-gay marriage, for an internet filter, pro-life… actually come to think of it, this isn’t all that far from the ALP.

Grant Beale (Independent) – C
Beale seems to be running on local issues for rural Victoria.
The little I could find on him it would indicate that he is mostly harmless, has some good ideas for his local area, but doesn’t really have the depth or breadth necessary for a truly effective Parliamentarian.

Climate Sceptics – C
This would appear at first glance to be another single issue party which is about taking the view that human induced climate change is false.
But when the policies of the party are examined, they do have a fairly good vision for the country  if one looks beyond their primary -  and highly problematic – cause.
Without spelling out their vision in too much detail (a flaw they share with other parties) they call on the government to increase transparency and flexibility while reducing red-tape.
They have a vision for unemployment, housing, water (the “real environmental crisis” of our day as they call it), and good governance to name a few.
Aside from the dubiousness of taking a minority view on climate change, they present themselves as a safe pair of hands for the country with a solid world view.

Family First – D
Family First is not all bad, contrary to what is opinions expressed in the media and the wider community. Their greatest sin seems to be taking a very, very conservative view on life.
They are, however, also for a smaller government,  are looking to boost trade, and small business and their policy regarding asylum seekers is expressed in very sensitive, compassionate terms.
But then we see the bad, and it is there in spades. Ironically, the propose policies that would require more government control (the internet filter, control of public ad campaigns) which directly contradicts their calls for smaller government.
They are vocally against gay rights (are homophobic, even), abortion, and are very conservative with regards to child rearing, all of which would require an increase in government.
When these two sides are weighed up, the negative clearly prevails, but not quite enough to put them in the next category down. If elected there are still positives that they can offer the Australian public.
Now if they could only get their candidates to keep quiet…

Series Navigation«Election 2010: The Good…Elections 2010 – The Ugly»
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28 Responses to “Elections 2010 – The Bad”

  1. Your comment about Carers Alliance is a single issue party shows a fundamental misunderstanding of carer-families. Those who support Carers Alliance are not only people who care for and care about people requiring care but people with disabilities themselves who know what a raw deal they get from this rich first-world coutnry.

    Carer-families and people with disabilties are part of relationships, families, neighbourhoods and communities. They are therefore not contained within a single issue,they are affected by policies across the spectrum of social goods and services just live every other Australian.

    The only way “single issue” can be applied to Carers Alliance is that carer-families and people with disabilities is the single issue that major parties have made a non-issue for more than a generation.

    You have unfairly and glibly marked us down as a single issue when nothing is further from the truth. I hope you will reconsider this view.

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Mary Lou and all those wishing to respond my placement of the carers alliance,
      Firstly I applaud your passion and willingness to change this area of policy. I am in no way disputing the statement that more has to be done in all the areas that you have mentioned, and I would hope and pray that our government, whoever they may be, picks up your causes and attempts to fix them.

      However, one of the other countries that I have followed the politics is Israel. In that wonderfully dysfunctional system the country is either ground to a halt or held to ransom by a series of parties that are classified ’single issue’.

      It is for this reason that my personal view is to fear any party that do not enter an election campaign without a set of policies on a global scale including economy, foreign, environment, telecommunications etc. Most of the other parties have.

      My fear are therefore are based on my fears that I have seen in Israel, but as I have said above we could do a lot worse then fix the areas of policy that they are targeting

  2. Hi,

    Just replying to the statement saying that Carers have a single issue. You could argue that with many parties however the message of the Carers Alliance affects every aspect of life. A disability will affect everyone one of us and the major parties have not done anything other than a band aid and an old patchwork of substandard services. I think you should pop over to http://australiansmadashell.com.au/ and mention that to 2 million Aussies. This issue will affect relationships (80% end in divorce), substance abuse and psychological conditions just a to mention a few negative affects of being a carer.

    If we are that naive to think it is a single issue party than perhaps more research needs to be done.

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    • Daniel Levy says:

      Irrespective of how many Australians are affected by this, it is STILL a single issue party.

      The ISSUE is carers. The ramifications of the issue extend to several areas of policy, but those areas are small. Fiscal policy? Health? Education? etc.

      They’re all very narrow facets which would merely include e.g. for education, disability training programs and an awareness campaign. A tiny sliver of what is actually comprises the education system.

      So yes, you’re an extremely narrow party, and all of this could be addressed by lobbying the major parties to include your plight in their policies. And if there really were 2 million Australians who were ‘mad as hell’, then the major parties would jump at the chance to secure 2 million votes with a sound carer’s policy. But clearly, you’re fluffing your numbers (as all pollies do).

      If you actually got into power, you’d be a one-track mind and very unhelpful on issues that did not deal with carers. That’s a given. That is why you ought to be a lobby group, and not a government option. Nobody wants to vote for a one-track mind. God forbid if you ever held the balance of power in the senate, you could potentially ground a bill on climate change (affecting all Australians) to a halt trying to get a deal on carers. That is the ugliest part of politics, and as Yaron said, we don’t want a political system like that. So don’t be surprised when you get attacked for it. It flies in the face of how we like our political system.

      I’d just like to add that you turn people off by sending a small army of people to a blog to defend your party. One or two spokespeople would do the trick? The extra people just make you look desperate – the use of standover tactics will not endear people to your cause.

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  3. Nothing too sensible about your analysis of the Carers Alliance political policies. And nothing that is likely to ease you out of your comfort zone of uninformed analysis either, until you or a close family member becomes severely disabled in a non-compensable accident/birth and needs hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for equipment, services and support over 30+ years just to get out of bed, let alone be part of ordinary life. No “the government” doesn’t provide that. If you’re not keen to beg charities to help you buy wheelchairs, toilet chairs and $80K wheelchair vans, you or your family are expected to pay for it yourself. No it is not tax deductible. But you can take comfort in knowing you have joined a teeny sub-class of 2 million disenfranchised Australians whose entire lives are dominated by this “single issue” best left to lobbyists.

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  4. Maree Buckwalter says:

    You say Carers Alliance is a single issue party; the primary issue is people with a disability and the inadequate service system in Australia which leaves the bulk of care on the shoulders of family carers.
    Please consider that people with a disability are also family members, friends and partners, valued members of our community as such they have views and concerns about every facet of government and the decisions it makes.
    Carers Alliance has policy on many issues to view these policies please see the website at http://www.carers.org.au/ .

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Mary,
      I have looked at the website again, and nothing has shaken me from my fears.

      Again I am not objecting to the objectives of the party, which would be wonderful for the country, and if others wish to elect them to parliament I am sure they could do some wonderful work.

      My fears from observing the Israeli system, however, sit very heavily on my heart, and I fear the spread of parties that do not have a genuine global view in Australian politics.

      If you could point me in the direction of an environment, telecommunications, and broader economic policies amongst others, then I would gladly upgrade them to one of the best parties in this election, and would place them in the higher bracket.

  5. Stuart Neal says:

    The Carers Alliance is only a single policy party if you consider the following to be a single issue:
    1. health
    2. education
    3. infrastructure
    4. social services
    5. federal/state relations/responsibilities
    6. fiscal policy
    7. civil rights
    8. children
    9. the aged
    10. welfare policy
    11. social legislative structures
    12. National Disability Insurance Scheme
    13. Veteran’s Affairs

    Call us a single policy party if you like but as you can see from the above it’s a policy that canvasses most Australians’needs. Disability can hit any family at any time and the full breadth of social policy comes into play when it does(or in reality doesn’t because of abject neglect). No situation in society is more in need of action, indeed the inaction of many decades is arguably criminal and in contravention of even a basic level of human rights. The major parties know this is true and consistently hope they can shelve action and leave it for the next guy. But look out, millions of us are at breaking point and very soon there’s going to be hell to pay. Our goals are much more than ‘admirable’. It is essential for a massive raft of changes to come into place for society to be considered civil. If they don’t we are all culpable if we don’t speak out because inaction on this front is no better than being an accessory to a capital crime.

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Stuart,
      I did this review based on looking at the website under the policy section. And I agree that it is broader then seeking better wages for carers, and it is a worthy outcome, but all the objectives are centred around one central focus.
      This is similar to some of the parties in Israel who could be considered ’single issue’ and yet are focus on a range of topics all focused around a particular central topic without a more global view.

      I repeat myself, if I can be shown something about some of the big topics outside of your central theme, the NBN, asylum seekers, taxes, even if they are not fully developed but a philosophy I will admit that I was wrong and recommend the party very highly.

      This is again only a personal fear of how parliament can be hijacked if a number of these parties enter the senate. The Carers have a good and positive message and I hope to see their policies become law in Australia. Just through parties with a more global view of policy making.

  6. Mohan says:

    I cannot comment about the alleged arogance of the Greens candidates – but if that was a measure, the Liberal-Nationals would be Z. Just remember Kennett,Hickey,Reith,Costello, Abbott et al. And the Greens are obstructionist ! If memory sevres me right, they are the only ones who tried to take a principled stand on the genocide in Sri Lanka, the CMATS treaty with East Timor and the slander campaign against Hannan Ashravi.

    I have not found anything in their policies supporting Saudi Arabia, Egypt,Jordan,Iran, et al. They opposed the war on Iraq and Afghanistan yes. And the hollowness of the war is proved by the non-existance of WMDs and funadamentalists ruling the roost under US patronage in Afghanistan.

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  7. Ittay says:

    Hi Yaron,
    I think you unfairly criticise the greens as being unwilling to compromise.

    CPRS: You may be interested t know that Bob Brown wrote to Kevin Rudd 5 times asking to meet and offering to negotiate about the CPRS. The Senators prepared 22 amendments they wanted to put to the government. Christine Milne kept requesting to meet with Penny Wong. Instead Rudd and Wong shut out the Greens and negotiated with only the Coalition whose interests were driven by the big coal and other extractive fossil fuel industries. The Greens Safe Climate Bill is underpinned by an Emissions Trading Scheme. The Greens believe an ETS will be an effective market based mechanism and there are many variations that they would be able to support. The Greens could not support the ALP version that would cost taxpayers money in the future when trying to buy back permits given away for free. For example, the situation that arises now with water permit buybacks.

    The stimulus package – The greens successfully negotiated with the government to add a $400 million package for job creation* and ecologically sustainable design principles for social housing to name just two amendments. Without the Greens, the package would have been blocked by the Coalition in the Senate. The Greens would have liked to have seen more for social justice programs but compromised to see the package quickly passed through the senate.
    *($60 million for heritage projects; $40 million for building, extending and improving ike paths; $200 million towards local community projects to create new jobs; $10 ,illion for new jobs to regenerate and protect the Lower Murray).

    Fair Work Australia – The Greens worked positively with the government to achieve this legislation to see the worst of the Workchoices excesses removed from the system. They did not and do not believe the legislation went far enough but it was an excellent first step.They still want to see further flexible arrangements for all carers and want to see the ABCC dismantled so that all workers, including building and construction workers are treated equally.

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      As I said above Ittay, they are learning this important skill, but my comments are based on my following of politics over the past few electoral cycles.
      And I am unaware of the Greens current record when the bill is not high profile, and off the front pages of the newspapers. If you are able to enlighten the readers on that it could make for interesting reading.
      But as for the dysfunctional nature of the Labor government over 3 years of governance, well I think we can all agree to that.

  8. Yaron Gottlieb says:

    To all those concerned about the Carers Alliance,

    While your arguments have not swayed me in my view, I believe that the discussion here has brought out the best in the party.

    I think you have all succeeded in focusing people on a range of significant issues, and if we could get more people focused on such issues important changes can happen within the political landscape of Australia.

  9. I have to say that Stuart Neal sums up how I view the need for such a party as Carer’s Alliance. The care of my profoundly disabled son for 25 years has given me life experience and understanding that can only enlarge my understanding of so many other social justice, humanitarian and economic matters. As Mary Lou Carter so rightly said we do not ‘care’ in isolation – we work, run businesses, study and are active in our communities in a myriad of ways. The great diversity of Carer’s Alliance can only benefit the life experience and diversity in our Parliament.

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Catherine,
      I have also had family members who have required carers, and I have nothing but the deepest admiration for them.
      Nor do I doubt the significance of the reforms they wish to put before the parliament.
      My objection is that I want the party I am going to vote for to have a tax policy or a water policy along with their health, education and aging policy.
      The Carers Alliance do not have those policies and this is something fundamental that is lacking in their structure as a party.

  10. Ittay says:

    Hi Yaron,
    In response to your comment that you are “unaware of the Greens current record when the bill is not high profile” I recomend you read the last few media releases on issues ranging from water efficiency and the Murray darling basin to gay rights and indigenous affairs.

    http://greensmps.org.au/media-releases

    finally, the greens have policies on 43 different issues which are constantly updated on their website and are available all year round athttp://greens.org.au/policies (in contrast to the old parties who only release their main policies a week before the election)

    P.S Mazal Tov!

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Ittay,

      This is their policy in smaller areas which I never doubted. My question was on their ability to compromise when the issue was out of the spotlight.

    • Mohan says:

      Compromise when the issue is out of the spotlight ? Sorry, but what does that mean ? Posture in public and do “core” and “non-core” deals behind closed doors with lobbyists?

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Mohan,
      Compare the record over the years of the Greens and the Democrats.

      The Democrats were rarely heard on the floor of the senate and were working in the back rooms of parliament.

      The Greens in contrast are seen by other MPs as media whores who play to the camera.
      So what is their record when the issue is not on the front page of the newspaper?

  11. Vanessa Browne says:

    Daniel, did you know that anyone can set up something called a Google Alert which will email you the moment anything on a subject you are interested in hits the internet?

    It obviously didn’t occur to you that there are a lot of people out there genuinely interested in Carers Alliance – possibly more than those interest in Yaron’s blog.

    However, Yaron invites comments to his/her blog and then Daniel Levy is “turned off” when people with access to the internet take up Yaron’s invitation to comment on the blog in order to share accurate information with the forum.

    “Stand over tactics” eh? Nothing on this website suggests that it is a private blog. Is this blog exclusively for Yaron’s friends? Is this just another single issue website?

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    • Daniel Levy says:

      Vanessa, would just like to congratulate you on your excellent job of being as disingenuous as any real pollie about the commenters. You knew that these people were all national candidates (there was one for wentworth, one for bennelong and two for NSW senate) and yet you pretended that they were merely concerned onlookers. What a joke.

      ONE THIRD of your party’s national candidates swarmed on a blog post.

      Do you have ANY idea how desperate this looks? You guys seem to have no idea about professionalism. A REAL party, if necessary, would organise a unified statement and deliver it via a spokesperson. I’m glad you guys aren’t a genuine party and that nobody’s going to vote for you, because frankly, the thought of you dummy spitters in power terrifies me :)

      Thankfully, you were quite obviously lying about those 2 million supporters who are ‘mad as hell’ :)

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  12. Vanessa Browne says:

    Ah! Single issue website.

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  13. Mary Mockler says:

    Dummy spitters? Not a genuine party? Lack of professionalism?

    Daniel, for the past 30 years, parent/carers and non-government organisations have had to lobby the major parties for all the needs of the disabled. Therapy, school placements, respite, day programs. We are tired…governments throw a few million here and a few million there without any structure.

    What we need is a NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME which has been recommended by people like Bill Moss (Macquarie Bank), Ian Silk (Australian Super) and many other notable industry leaders.

    Unfortunately, both parties twiddle their thumbs while families fall apart under the strain of it all.

    We live in a democratic country where we can make a difference by voicing our opinion in the political sphere. We are doing it by forming a party that wants to force people to listen. There is strength in numbers and our numbers might be small, but we can still force the major parties to listen by taking a few votes away from them…

    Daniel, we ARE desperate and we DO have a spokesperson. Marylou Carter is our candidate for the Senate.

    By the way, you must be a very fearful person if you are terrified of a group of carers who are concerned about people living with disability and their families…

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  14. Estelle says:

    Daniel, you are right about one thing – we are desperate. We have suffered bi-partisan neglect for decades and been excluded from a share in many of the good things this country has to offer. Yaron, you may fear for our political system but we fear for the future of our sons and daughters after we are gone, in a country that doesn’t provide – and there is no fear on earth like that one. Do you think we haven’t tried lobbying? It is rewarded with pitying looks and token gestures. So now we have to make our demands known in the only way politicians understand – by stealing their votes. A Carers Alliance voice in the Senate would be a voice for a kinder and more equitable Australia – what is there to fear in that?

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  15. Lyn says:

    We have tried lobbying, we have crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s for close to 30 years and we tried working with the politicians. The lobbying approach did not work. We have been ignored and our families are in deep, deep crisis. I had to relinquish the care of my son to the state in order for him to survive, to save his life. This was horrific. Voting for the Carers Alliance, giving carers a voice in the Senate. This is the only way we can make change for the most vulnerable people in our society. There is a place for a party like the Carers Alliance. There must be.

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  16. Daniel Levy says:

    I certainly feel for your plight, I just see no room in the political sphere for single issue parties.

    You have clearly shown that you are bent on this one issue and would compromise many other issues to bargain your way to a deal on this one, solitary, issue.

    That, to me, and most other people in Australia, is unacceptable. To be perfectly honest, you’re wasting your time in the elections. None of you are going to be elected. You’re far better off organising your efforts into an awareness campaign to turn the screws on the major parties to introduce the things you’ve mentioned like the national disability insurance scheme.

    This is purely an exercise in futility and sheer spite. You’re just going to mildly annoy the major parties – it won’t endear you to them. You won’t steal any significant chunk of their votes. Unless your goal was to be a mild irritant in the political sphere, you’re failing miserably. Otherwise, congratulations on achieving the status of that fly that’s buzzing around the room that nobody wants to squash because it’s not hurting them.

    Yeah, that’s you guys… And it kinda sucks that people would have donated money to this sheer waste of time and resources. You could have better spent that, you know, actually helping disabled people… Anyway, my 2 cents.

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  17. Mohan says:

    Se the Democrats operating in the back rooms and the Greens speaking out in public. That is the difference. Media whores what is that LIb,Lab doing media stunts or standing up for principles. The Democrats did a backdoor deal on GSt and were wiped out. Seems that is the kind of politics you hold out as exemplary.

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  18. Lyn says:

    Obviously you have an issue about issues.
    Is that a single issue?

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