Sunday, December 17, 2006

The DLP and Victoria

Well I said I'd try and write a post on the DLP and the Victoria election so here you go (written in between watching the 3rd Test - Warne has just got Bell out caught on 87, the devil's number of cricket!)

The victory of the Democratic Labor Party's Peter Kavanagh in the Upper House last week and the effort of party chief John Mulholland who lost on recount to the ALP was a blast form the past for many. The DLP has not had a MP in a Parliament in Australia for nearly 30 years and no-on in the Victorian Parliament since the 1950s.

The DLP of today is not the DLP of yester year with BA Santamaria as it's brain child but there are many links to the past. Gerard McManus's article in the Herald Sun is worth a read. In summary for the overseas readers, the DLP split from the Australian Labor Party in the 1950s over the ALP's support for Communists in the Trade Union movement. It was largely a Catholic Party and the brain child of BA Santamaria and his movements. The 'Movement', as it became known, has support from Archbishop Daniel Mannix in Melbourne but was not liked by the bishops of Sydney and after some lobbying Rome, Santamaria was forced to drop the Catholic tag and set up the National Civic Council.

Both Mulholland and Kavanagh are good guys and deserve some support. For a day it looked like the DLP would hold the balance of power in the Upper House along with the Greens and Nationals meaning a with the Nationals there was a decent conservative bloc. However the DLP lost a seat on recount to the ALP and the Greens picked up one a the ALPs so a net gain to the government of zero still leaving them without a majority but with a greater Greens presence.

Crikey.com had this to say:
Who would have thunk it! Fifty-one years after it last one a seat in Victoria’s Parliament, the DLP appears to have picked up two places in the new Legislative Council on less than 2% of the primary votes.

Bob Santamaria must be lecturing God and St Peter on politics today, pots are calling kettles black with left wing nutter and new Green MP Greg Barber complaining about the election of a "right-wing nutter"; meanwhile, the psephologists are studying the power of preferences.

But if the DLP’s back, who will it draw to its flag. It’s cousins in the NCC have been stacked by the La Rouchists. Will they move on Santa’s Helpers in the DLP – or will the right wing bruvvers ride to the rescue.

Take the Shoppies, for example. Sunday trading has done wonders for their membership, but Joe de Bruyn keeps urging us to remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Will his union be the first lot to reaffiliate with the new resurgent DLP?

The split never really happened in South Australia, but the Speaker of the state parliament, Jack Snelling, is a grouper through and through. Labor has a healthy majority there, but still has the state’s sole National and a country conservative independent in the ministry. A speaker from the DLP would only add to the colour.

Think about it. There may be some real benefits for Labor MPs to join the DLP. Think of the Family First preferences to begin with.

So who else should shift their affiliations? We’re not just talking Labor members here. What about Tony Abbott? Johnno Johnston would weep tears of joy.
and this:
The Democratic Labor Party (DLP), pronounced dead by most observers 30 years ago, has stirred from the grave this week and on provisional results has won two seats in the Victorian Legislative Council. (There will be recounts, and there are some apparent anomalies; for a full discussion see the comments at the Poll Bludger site.)

Strictly speaking, this is not the old DLP that split from Labor in the 1950s under the influence of Bob Santamaria's Movement (later the National Civic Council). That party was wound up in 1978, but a group of Victorian dissidents led by John Mulholland carried on under the old name.

The old DLP was conservative and rigidly anti-communist, but it was still within the political mainstream. It held seats in the Senate until 1974, and in its heartland of Victoria its vote peaked in 1961 at just under 17% (with which it won no seats).

In the 1970s and 80s, after Santamaria pulled the plug on the DLP, NCC members (often called "Groupers", after the ALP Industrial Groups) with any taste for mainstream politics moved into other parties. The NCC-controlled unions were readmitted to the ALP in the mid-80s, and their leaders have gone on to play a major role in cementing right-wing control of the Victorian ALP.

They are also found in the Liberal and National parties: two of the new Liberal upper house members are commonly identified as Groupers.

But the Groupers had a third string to their bow; in addition to influencing the major parties, they were able to funnel their preferences to the surviving DLP, which under Mulholland had become an ever-narrower anti-gay and anti-choice brigade.

It was the best of all possible worlds, combining the advantages of mainstream politics and single issue pressure group.

Now they seem to have hit the jackpot: Labor preferences give the DLP a seat in Western Victoria ahead of the Greens, and Liberal preferences elect Mulholland in Northern Metropolitan ahead of the ALP's Nazih El Asmar.

In one sense, democracy is well served by denying the government control of the upper house. But the way in which it occurs threatens to make Victorian politics hostage to the extreme right.

The Greens' Greg Barber is not an unbiased source, but he hit the nail on the head this morning:

I think Labor has again, like with Family First, elected a right-wing nutter to the Parliament. If I was a Labor voter living in Geelong or Ballarat or Portland, I'd be absolutely furious because their vote was taken off them and sent off to a place where they never imagined it was going.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I think Labor has again, like with Family First, elected a right-wing nutter to the Parliament. If I was a Labor voter living in Geelong or Ballarat or Portland, I'd be absolutely furious because their vote was taken off them and sent off to a place where they never imagined it was going."

Is the only sensible sentence in that whole entry

INDOLENT SERVER said...

It's called democracy love! And it's the way Parliamentary elections for upper houses run. If you don't like it, vote below the line! Simple!


Good to see you back again anonymous!

LYL said...

LOL!! I just love how The Greens and other liberals resort to personal abuse instead of actually debating the issues! How democratic. But "progressives" cannot cope with true democracy, for the simple reason that they really do think everyone thinks as they do, so it's a complete shock for them to find out otherwise.

Which is why they assume that all the ALP voters would be unhappy about the end result. Some might be perfectly happy.

And these "right wing nutters" are, in fact, just representing views that 40 years ago, most people would have had. It's only because the left are further and further "out there" with every passing year that people with traditional views are seen as "extremists."

It's really very amusing.

Cypressus III said...

Anonymous, you are a card. I assume, of course, that you are being a funnyboy, because no one on this planet, including Barber, could have really been serious when making that comment.

Cypressus III said...

sorry, I meant funnyouth, not the outrageously chauvanist funnyboy

Anonymous said...

Oh Aaron,

You know you love it! What would you do without your lefties to keep you in line??

Michael Webb- DLP member, NSW Branch said...

The DLP was formed by ALP men and women ( a.k.a. 'the Groupers'). These were ALP Groups formed from within the ALP and continued on into the DLP.

Bob Santamria was not a member of the DLP. Bob did however share the Laborite beliefs of the Groupers as did many of the general rank and file ALP members at that time.