Victorian Senate Group Z: They call me Baby Driver…

Hooray!  We have reached Z!  Only another half alphabet to go!  I have high hopes of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.  Brand-new political parties are always interesting, and I have to admit, having spent every early morning, lunchbreak and evening this week reading and writing about small parties, any sniff of a new party that might not have very many policies is very appealing…

Other than that, my only pre-supposition here is that this is the party for petrol-heads, which, based on the party’s name, seems like a not-unreasonable conclusion to draw.  Something tells me that they won’t like the Greens much, either.  But I also have a sneaking affection for them, just because I can’t help feeling that my former colleagues from the Police Transport Branch would rather enjoy this group – their idea of an excellent work treat was to go out to the vintage car museum, and attending police car auctions was also as much a pastime as a professional obligation.  (That was a surprisingly fun job in general, which is surprising, given that I don’t drive and am, as you may have noticed, rather to the left, politically speaking).

Enough random speculation about this lot – let’s check out their two Group Voting Tickets.

In both cases, top of their ticket is an interesting mix of small parties, leaning a bit to the right, though HEMP gets quite high billing.  First preference goes to the Bank Reform Party, followed by the Carbon Sceptics, Building Australia and Senator Online.  There’s no doubt about it – you can tell a lot about how big a group thinks their lobbying power is by where they put Senator Online on the ballot.  We then pass on to Family First, followed by HEMP.  I think this is hysterical, but then, I haven’t had much sleep this week.  Moving down the ballot, we have various shooting and fishing parties, and eventually work our way down to One Nation.  Yep, definitely leaning to the right here.  The Democrats are the next party of note to get a preference, and we eventually reach the DLP.  The major parties are left very nearly  to last – and it’s the Nationals, the Liberals, Labor and the Greens, in that order on one ticket and the Nationals, Labor, Liberals and the Greens on the other.  The only party below the Greens on either ticket are the Socialist Equality Party, because apparently the only thing scarier than an environmentalist is a communist.  Good to know.

Moving on to their website, we get a number of slogans in the header such as ‘United we stand – proud motoring enthusiasts’, ‘Protect our culture for future generations’, ‘Coming together to protect our rights’ and ‘share the passion – protect our culture’ ‘promoting unity – respect – lifestyle’.  In between, there are invitations to get involved.

I got stuck at protecting our culture for future generations, to be honest. There’s a culture?  That needs protecting?  They make it sound like one of those tiny language groups that only has a handful of speakers left, and I am bemused.  Don’t most people drive?  Also, what’s all this about protecting our lifestyle?  Is this code, and if so, what for?  The only thing I can think of is that it’s code for ‘Help!  The environmentalists are taking over!’, but there has to be more to it than this, surely.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party (AMEP) is standing Senate Candidates in the upcoming Federal Election. The decision to form our own political party was not taken lightly, and was initiated after the unity demonstrated by the Motoring Community following recent moves by the Governments of nearly every State in Australia to enact legislation that affects our lifestyle without consultation with our community.

With the realisation that the rights and civil liberties of every-day Australians are being eroded at an ever increasing rate, the Party aims to bring focus back to the notion that the Government is there for the people; not, as it increasingly appears, the other way around.

I had no idea my civil liberties were being eroded, but then, as previously mentioned, I don’t drive.  Sometimes I even ride a bicycle!  I am probably the extremist enemy and a cultural oppressor who must be quashed!  I have always wanted to be an oppressor…

(I’m sorry, their rhetoric is bringing out the worst in me.)

Their policy intro page tells us a bit more.  They want to support balanced legislation, and they want to support unity and respect.  Their membership “is made up of a very diverse range of average Australian families, united around a passion for Motoring Enthusiast pursuits”.  Hail, the invocation of the average Australian family!  We are to understand that this party represents the silent majority (or should I say, the majority which has been silent for too long!).

And here, at least, we learn what the Australian Family Lifestyle is all about:

We will not accept proposed legislation that places the Australian Family Lifestyle at risk. This includes the average Australian family’s right to modify and restore vehicles based upon their own freedom of expression; we do expect these restorations and modifications to be safe. We also support the average Australian family’s right to participate in activities on public land.  We support activities that are safe, responsible and sustainable, such as Four Wheel Driving, Camping, Fishing and other recreational pursuits.

I clearly do not have an Australian Family Lifestyle.  I suspected as much.

OK, I can’t help myself.  I have to know – am I the only one who sees all these comments about Lifestyle and immediately pictures Motorist Pride Parades?

The Motoring Enthusiasts are also big on personal responsibility and consequences, which are two things that are good in reality and generally a very bad indicator when it comes to making social policy, as they often translate to ‘stuff you, you brought this on yourself’.

We will promote personal responsibility and consequence of individual action. Our emphasis is on community education to allow the law abiding majority to do the right thing and focus enforcement activities on the minority who willingly choose to break the law.

I think someone is feeling oppressed by the Nanny State, and about laws which are obviously enacted because of a handful of people who aren’t *proper* motor enthusiasts and are ruining it for the rest of us.  I wonder if this is a veiled reference to speed limits?

Their core values page tells me that they seek to preserve ‘Australian family values, the Motoring Enthusiast lifestyle’.  More and more this sounds like code.  They also have this brilliant credo that starts with “We take pride in our vehicles, pride in our Nation, and promote the notion of a “fair go for all”, and continues down through things like minimal government interference, family, equality before the law and lower taxation, and a number of other things, including mateship, and now I have that song from Keating, The Musical in my head again.

On the matey, matey, matey, matey mateship!

(I think re-watching that musical is going to be my reward when I finish writing these posts)

Oh dear, this post really is getting a bit silly, I am so sorry.  This is what the inside of my head looks like at the end of a long week…

Right, let’s go to the policies, and there are, in fact, some sensible ones in there so I should perhaps stop giggling about the motoring lifestyle and culture and comment on them.

The Motoring Enthusiasts support harmonisation of road rules and vehicle modification policies, and they are absolutely right about that – it is silly and potentially dangerous to have the road rules change when you cross state borders, though I believe some work has been done to harmonise that… I have a vague recollection that they standardised all the give way rules back in the 90s, presumably because having people giving way to the left in Bordertown and to the right in Kaniva is a recipe for trouble.

(even sensible policies get the delicious rhetoric, though – it is apparently un-Australian to penalise people for getting things wrong when they cross a state border.)

Equally sensibly, they want to educate drivers about the importance of vehicle maintenance, and in road safety generally, and to take a look at how we can improve on the way we teach young people to drive, since they are over-represented in accidents.  They talk about respect for vehicles and the privilege of driving, and I’m beginning to think that they are just suffering from overenthusiastic rhetoric and that their policies might not be so bad after all.

The Motoring Enthusiasts are another one of the more libertarian-leaning parties, who believe in minimal government interference, and more of that ambiguous personal responsibilities.  But they do still want everyone to have access to a ‘fair and decentralised health system’ and to a good education, though they are steering clear of the public versus private argument on this one.  I’ve seen the decentralised health system idea doing the rounds a bit this election, and I’m a bit curious as to how it might work.  We certainly need to do much better at providing services to regional areas, but I honestly wonder if we might actually need more centralisation in terms of service allocation – do we, currently, have anyone whose job is to say, we need X number of specialists in this field in this particular geographical area, and then to try to find ways to make this happen?  Of course, I imagine health professionals would not be terribly keen to be told where they have to go – in fact, we have a bit of that problem even in Melbourne, where many of our medicos live in suburbs on one side of town and don’t really want to commute all the way to the outer suburbs on the other side of town, where there is population growth and frankly, a real need for them.  One would need a good incentive system.

None of this has anything to do with the current policy, either.

Moving on to the three policies that I’m a bit less sure about, the AMEP wants better roads, and “will commit to ensuring that fuel, registration and vehicle-associated taxes collected as a road-maintenance component are actually distributed to road funding with the focus on improving the standard of our national road system”.  I agree that we need good roads, but it does make me tired when I think of all the money that goes into roads while our public transport systems are left to languish. I don’t know that this is the best place to prioritise spending right now.

On the environment, they have this to say:

We support a balanced approach towards sustainability of the environment and the use of the environment, both for the survival of mankind and for the unimpeded recreational use of the environment.

Unimpeded doesn’t sound very balanced to me, I have to say.  It is absolutely appropriate to enjoy and promote recreational activities outside, but there does have to be some sort of balance – and that does mean that there need to be some restrictions on how it is used.

And look!  I have finally discovered what the Motoring Enthusiast Lifestyle is about!

The motoring enthusiast community consists of individuals and families that wish to use their motor vehicles in an off-road capacity on existing trails.  Off-road includes, but is not limited to Four Wheel Drives, All Wheel Drives, Off-Road Quads and Trail Bikes.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party (AMEP) argues that this is a legitimate form of recreation, requiring safe, responsible, sustainable and equitable access to public land.  This access also needs to be balanced with the rights of other land users.

OK, I did kind of know that, but it was more fun to pretend I didn’t.  I note that they are talking about existing trails only, which is a good thing, though I wonder how sustainable and equitable access to public land works.  I mean, some trails are primarily for people on foot, and probably shouldn’t be shared with vehicles.

I’m also a bit concerned, I must admit, about a party that glorifies driving to this extent, not because there is anything wrong with driving, but because all this driving does largely rely on fossil fuels, which are neither limitless nor particularly good for the environment.  If the motorists truly want to pass on their culture to the next generation, they might do well to develop a policy on alternative and more renewable sources of fuel.

I’ll be honest, here.  I’m quite surprised at how reasonable the majority of these policies are, especially given the inflated rhetoric in the mission statement and core values.  There’s actually some pretty good stuff in here.  I would like to see more detail on how they think their environmental policy would work out, because it could be OK or it could be dreadful, but they are far less crazy than I was expecting.  A little over-obsessed with driving, certainly, and this is something I will never understand, but that is, after all, why they exist.  Their emphasis on road safety is surprising and pleasing.  So, not my cup of tea, but they could be far worse.

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5 thoughts on “Victorian Senate Group Z: They call me Baby Driver…

  1. Pingback: My personal How to Vote Card… | Cate Speaks

  2. Pity. I cant go along with stuff like our proposed tunnel. But I like a lot of this. And having just played with historic and club rego… I think thats a nice victorian thing (meaning you can keep your old loved motorcycle on the road for 50 odd days a year for only about $100 ) that it would be nice to see australia wide. Bet they would support that.

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