Guest blog by ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries.
Ever since polling day, we’ve all known that the 43rd parliament was certainly going to be an interesting one, now the fate of this government rests in the hands of a select few. It means that the Opposition and minor parties have more power than ever before.
But, dangerously, it also gives more power to closet political parties like GetUp!.
GetUp! spent colossal amounts of money in this election campaign. In many booths in the ACT there were large numbers of GetUp! workers handing out glossy brochures advising people about how to ‘cut through the spin’ and to work out what was happening in the election campaign.
In the early stages of the campaign I actually had a little bit of hope spring up that this would reflect well on the Liberal Party because GetUp! said that they were going to campaign on three specific issues: asylum seekers, climate change and mental health.
As a person who has taken considerable interest in mental health I knew that the Coalition was putting forward a policy that would undoubtedly be seen by all objective observers as a better policy than that which, at that stage, was evident from Labor.
Indeed, by the time the election itself came around it was clear that we had a much better policy: $1.5 billion for new programs to assist people with mental illness in this country, building on the policy of $1.9 billion commenced by us in 2006—a very sound and a very appropriate policy for the challenge of mental illness.
I thought to myself, “Well, I’m sure we will get marked down by GetUp! on asylum seekers, and I’m sure we won’t get many points on climate change from them. But at least, if they are honest, they will tell the people that we have the best policy on mental health.”
Election day came around and the obligatory brochures appeared, handed out by the workers from GetUp!, and of the three criteria they had said would be used to judge the political parties, two had remained much the same but the third had somehow transformed itself. The key criterion had changed: we were no longer being judged on mental health but now on health care, of which only one component was mental health. The other two dealt with other issues which GetUp! had not raised prominently at all.
And so the GetUp! flyers recommended that there was nothing to distinguish Labor and Liberal on health (both had more crosses than ticks). The clear advantage the Coalition had over Labor on mental health had been neutralized by the adding of further, unannounced criteria. And once again the Greens, who promised to do everything in all of those areas without question and to provide unlimited dollars to solve these problems, got the highest score from GetUp!.
This disingenuous tactic demonstrates GetUp! is a front for the Greens and, to a lesser extent, for the Australian Labor Party. It is not a credible independent observer of Australian politics; it is a player. It is a party in all but name, and it should be regarded so by the Australian community.