Meet the Small Parties – John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party

Continuing our theme of high profile independents who recently started their own parties, it’s time to investigate John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party!  John Madigan was originally elected as a member of the Democratic Labour Party, who, for those of you who have just tuned in, is the super-Catholic/anti-communist branch of the Australian Labor Party.  He quit the party in 2014, blaming a ‘cancer of political intrigue’, while the DLP angrily demanded he give back his seat and pointed to the extraordinarily high staff turnover and levels of stress leave in his office.

Having served as an independent, Madigan has now founded his own party, which is all about “Practical politics, putting people first”.

We believe it’s time that Australia acknowledges our farmers and our manufacturers as the foundation of our economy.  Without our farmers and manufacturers and workers, no other economic activity is possible. This is a party to unite all Australians behind that which has and will continue to make this country great. This is a party to encourage debate about manufacturing and farming, and to encourage better support for these two vital sectors of our economy. Additionally we stand for honesty in politics – and a fair go. People matter. Communities matter. The question is not can we afford to buy Australian-made, but can we afford not to?

All good as far as it goes.

The JMMFP has four major principles: Australian Manufacturing, Australian Farming, Protecting our National Influence, and Standing Up for Australian Families and Communities.

At first glance, this is another Working Man’s party, with a bit of protectionist thinking built in.

Under Manufacturing, Madigan and Co wants to halve company tax for companies manufacturing in Australia.  They want transparent trade agreements, and want to ensure that anything imported into Australia meets local product and labour standards.  He also wants all levels of government to buy local.

Similarly, under farming, they want better labelling laws (a popular issue this election – I think the government should just get on with it), subsidies to farmers, and a rural development bank.  Oh lord, and they want to pause the Murray Darling Basin plan for review, to balance rights of farmers and the needs of the ecosystem.  I still don’t understand the politics around the Murray Darling Basin, I’m so sorry.  If you do, feel free to comment.

Protecting our national interest includes investing in domestic oil and fuels.  I note a distinct lack or reference to the environment or renewables here.  He also wants to stop foreign ownership of Australian farmland, and make it more difficult to allow overseas purchases generally.  And he wants to increase and maintain defense expenditure.

So far, so good – I think the environment would take a beating under some of this, but on the whole, I do think we need better protection for Australian farmers and manufacturers, to keep them afloat and to keep Australia reasonably viable and self-sufficient.

And now we come to ‘Standing up for Australian Families and Communities’, which is where I start giving this the side-eye, because our friend Madigan, you will recall, is from the DLP, and they have had some truly terrible policies around women, gay people and marriage in the past. Here are their policies

  • Split incomes will ease the tax burden on families.
  • We must change negative gearing laws to increase housing  affordability.
  • We respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The family is a key part of society and fundamental to the sustainability of the Australian economy.
  • Australia’s clean and green energy future must be fostered, but not at the expense of the wellbeing of rural communities. Every life is important.

I have no idea what the first one means, so I’m looking it up on Wikipedia, which tells me that it’s essentially taxing a household rather than an individual – dividing the household income equally between husband and wife and then taxing accordingly.  This tends to benefit couples with one person working and one being the stay at home parent, and disadvantage couple with both parents working.

Negative gearing is a big theme of this election, and if this were a drinking game, I’d be drinking a shot right now.

Dignity of human life from conception to natural death – you can take the man out of the DLP, but you can’t take the DLP out of the man.  I also suspect that ‘the family is a key part of society’ is a quiet little dog whistle in the direction of marriage equality, which I very much doubt Madigan’s group favours.

And once again, we are a bit wishy-washy on clean energy and climate.  I’m a bit bemused about ‘Every life is important’ ending up on that point, though.

And that’s it!  Short and sweet!  We don’t get a lot here on education, immigration, health, or disability, to name a few key areas.  I rather suspect that visiting the DLP will give you a pretty good idea of which way he will swing – and they are traditionally rather good on things, because their pro-life values actually carry through to post-womb humans. I do know that Madigan is quite good on refugees, because he is one of the politicians who I rang last year and his office was very friendly and agreed that we needed to do better there and that Madigan was already on it, so that’s something.

Basically, if you are a working class or rural Catholic, I suspect that John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party is the party for you.  He’s a bit too Catholic for me, and I suspect he is a terrible boss, but he has some good policies that really would help Australian workers in primary industries.

Not to my taste, but you could certainly do worse.

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