NATIONAL AFFAIRS: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
The DLP returns to Canberra
, October 2, 2010
The election of John Madigan as a Senator from Victoria, marks the return of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) to the Senate, after an absence of 35 years. His election marks a further revival for the DLP, which has been represented in the Victorian Legislative Council by Peter Kavanagh since 2006.
John Madigan's success arises, in part, from the positive influence which Mr Kavanagh has exercised over recent years, keeping the DLP's public profile high in Victoria. During the recent abortion debate in Victoria, Peter Kavanagh played a prominent role in the upper house, and he has stood up for local communities, small businesses, families, farmers and others who have been marginalised by the excessive centralisation of power in Australia.
John Madigan will be a welcome addition to the Senate, for many reasons. A blacksmith from Ballarat by trade, he will represent a voice which today is rarely if ever heard in the corridors of power: the self-employed working man.
He has already shown a refreshing directness which even those who disagree with him will learn to respect. In an interview on Melbourne radio, he was asked whether he supported abortion and euthanasia, to which he gave a one-word reply, "No." Asked whether he supported stem-cell research, he floored his questioner by asking, "What type of stem cells are you referring to?"
John Madigan comes from a strong DLP-NCC family, and is no stranger to controversy.
Apart from his DLP activity, he has been active in the community, as secretary of the local landholder group opposed to the Goldfields' Superpipe which confiscated farm water to supply provincial cities, and has campaigned against workplace bullying in the local council.
In the next Senate, which takes office from July 1, 2011, John Madigan will find himself in a hostile chamber, dominated by the ALP (31 seats) and the Greens (9), in a chamber of 76 Senators.
This will not be an unusual situation for him. As a young metal-worker, he attended mass meetings of the left-dominated Amalgamated Metal Workers Union where he made a name for himself in taking on then secretary of the union, John Halfpenny, at the time when Halfpenny was graduating from the Communist Party to the ALP.
John Madigan's welcome victory has come at a price: he edged out two current senators, Julian McGauran (Liberal) and Steve Fielding (Family First), both of whom have been prominent and uncompromising in upholding Christian values in the public arena. It was owing to their preferences that John Madigan defeated the third ALP candidate for Victoria.
The next Senate will be particularly challenging because of the ALP-Greens alliance, which effectively puts the Greens into government.
Under the terms of the agreement, the full text of which is available on the Greens' web site, "The Prime Minister will meet with Senator Brown and Mr Bandt [the sole Greens' member of the House of Representatives] each sitting week, principally to discuss and negotiate any planned legislation", and when Parliament is not in session, the Prime Minister or her delegate will meet them "at least once each fortnight principally to discuss the upcoming legislative agenda".
Other provisions of the agreement provide that the Greens will be given "at least six working days' notice of the introduction of legislation to the House".
Additionally, "Should Senator Brown, Mr Bandt and other Greens senators with portfolios wish to propose new policies, these proposals may be formally submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister, and forwarded to the appropriate department and minister for analysis. Where the proposal is likely to involve costs, it may also be sent to the Department of Treasury, and the Treasurer and the Department of Finance and Deregulation, and the Minister for Finance, for costing."
The agreement further states, "The parties acknowledge that the above mechanism can be used to have any of the Greens' policies for the 2010 election considered", effectively meaning that the federal public service will be made available for the Greens' political purposes.
On policy issues, the agreement commits the ALP to introduce a carbon tax, in addition to the 30 per cent mining tax.
It states, "That Australia must tackle climate change and that reducing carbon pollution by 2020 will require a price on carbon.
"Therefore the parties agree to form a well-resourced Climate Change Committee which encompasses experts and representative ALP, Greens, Independent and Coalition parliamentarians who are committed to tackling climate change and who acknowledge that reducing carbon pollution by 2020 will require a carbon price. The committee will be resourced like a Cabinet committee."
In other words, the Climate Change Committee will not be an open-minded committee, but will assume that human activity is causing climate change, and will discuss only how it can be abated.
The agreement concluded, "The parties will, by the end of September 2010, finalise the structure, membership and work plan of the committee."
DLP Senator-elect John Madigan will face great challenges in the years ahead.