WHEN the next ACT election comes around in 2016, the newly formed ACT Branch of the Democratic Labor Party has announced it will be on the ballot paper.
The new ACT party is led by Michael Lindfield, who contested the 2012 ACT election as an independent candidate for the seat of Brindabella and is the president of the Tuggeranong Community Festival.
He describes the DLP as a “centre-moderate” party and says it is clear that locals have “lost trust and confidence” in the major parties, after having “many discussions with ACT groups representing many sectors”.
The DLP was first formed in the 1950s, by anti-Communist and mainly Catholic members of the Australian Labor Party’s Victorian branch, who were “unlawfully expelled”, according to the DLP website.
Its members wielded some power on the Senate benches between 1955 and 1974, but by 1978 the party’s support had dwindled and all of its branches had dissolved, apart from Victoria, which was continued on by a small number of dedicated members.
Mr Lindfield says the new version of the party has “moved beyond the old days of the anti-communist platform, to a moderate platform”.
“We want to be able to be identified as an alternative,” he says. “We still believe in labor principles of fairness and equity, looking after the aged, the vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community, but we’re also interested in small business development and employer rights.”
According to Mr Lindfield, the DLP is “not affiliated” with any unions or the ALP, nor with any groups representing private sector businesses and employers, and is “certainly not” a party of conservative Christian values, despite its pro-life stance and preference for civil unions over legally recognised marriages between homosexuals.
“The ACT branch is not a right-wing Christian group or anything like that; it’s middle-of-the-road and we believe in moderate change,” he says.
“We’re a party that is pro-life, theres no doubt about that. We understand that there are other sections of the community that don’t support that position, but we’re willing to talk with those constituents and present our views on why we believe in pro-life issues.
“My view on gay marriage is that a civil union is adequate. We support marriage in the traditional sense, because marriage is all about procreation of children, but we also believe no person in the community should be disadvantaged in any way – financially, emotionally or socially – and civil unions is probably the best way to resolve those issues.”
The new DLP is headed nationally by John Madigan, who was elected as a federal Senator for Victoria in 2011, and is considered by the Australian Electoral Commission to be the same party that was formed in the 1950s.
Senator Madigan congratulated the organisers of the new ACT Branch and described the DLP as “a party on the rise”.
“It is an exciting time for Democratic Labor,” Senator Madigan said. “Having an ACT-based DLP will give voters a defining choice. I am looking forward to working with the ACT branch and I am confident they will be successful in the community.”