A speech by Darren Churchill, 2010 Australian Democrats Senate Candidate for the ACT, at the Declaration of the Poll, Old Parliament House, 14 September 2010.

A speech by Darren Churchill, 2010 Australian Democrats Senate Candidate for the ACT, at the Declaration of the Senate Poll, Old Parliament House, 14 September 2010.

Thanks Dr McRae.  I apologise for my lateness and for my voice (I’ve got a bit of the lurgy).

Firstly, congratulations to Senator Lundy and Senator Humphries on their re-election. Well done!

It was certainly an interesting campaign.

I’d like to thank the Australian Electoral Commission for their professionalism, advice and assistance before, during (and after) the election period. And for their professional and proper conduct of the election. I thank them for the respect and courtesy shown to our candidates. It is much appreciated, as is the AEC’s commitment to the electoral process.

It’s very difficult being the fourth horse in what some sectors portrayed as a three horse race. I’d like to thank the Canberra Times and The Chronicle (as well as the independent street papers) for their professionalism and acknowledgement of all candidates.

It is little wonder that one of my senior South Australian colleagues describes the Canberra Times as a “wonderful newspaper.”

2CC also deserve acknowledgement for their recognition of our part in the election.

I am incredibly impressed at how good those media were (on the whole) to us. Minor parties often have trouble getting coverage. But they acknowledged us and enabled the public to be informed.

WIN News, ABC Radio and SBS also gave us coverage in the last week of the campaign. And that has to be a first for the Australian Democrats. Although, I wish I could say the same for the first four weeks.

I must express my sincere disappointment at our ABC’s television coverage, which was not only biased, but their Stateline programme also seemed to see fit to engage in what can only be described as blatant political censorship. A change from three years ago when everyone was covered.

I thank the forum organisers, (especially) Tuggeranong Community Council, Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre, ACTCOSS and Family and Friends for Drug Law Reform for their inclusive and interesting fora. And I thank Michael Moore and John Warhurst for allowing us a say even when the organisers of other fora saw fit to exclude us.

Questions must also be raised over the participation of a pseudo-political party in the campaign. If organisations want to promote a particular agenda; and I believe it was a Labor-Greens agenda, they should declare their hand and be honest about who they are and what they want to achieve.

Despite many things being stacked against us, we did run good a campaign. We covered a lot of ground with a small and dedicated band of members and volunteers, a shoestring budget and a Senate-only campaign. I  thank the members and especially Anthony David (my running mate).  I could not have done any of this without him. Through all this, we held our ground from 2007, with only a minor decline of about 84 votes.

We raised good issues, pushed the Australian Democrats message, as a party of the progressive centre and were a part of the whole campaign. Even if some media and forum organisers deliberately chose to ignore this fact.

We now know which parties it will be who form the government. The message from the voters is very clear – you are all on notice. No party will have a secure majority – and to that end we should be glad of the result, even though the Australian Democrats were not returned in this election. The independents and minor parties will be under scrutiny like never before. And the spotlight will also be on the 24 hour media to make sure you are all held accountable.

The true test will be in whether or not members and Senators will have the guts to support legislation on it’s merits. Yes, a truly workable hung parliament relies on people crossing the floor. That’s how the Senate operated from 1981 to 2005. Now, both houses have the opportunity to see which “bastards” will stay honest to their constituents and which will toe the party line.

The Australian Democrats will continue to regrow. Liberalism is already showing a resurgence in other parts of the world (such as in the UK) and it’s time will come again in Australia. That time will see those of us who are not socialists, not conservatives and not greens – but who are true liberals, social liberals, returned as the progressive centre of Australian politics.

My sincere thanks once again to everyone. And congratulations to the newly re-elected Senators.

Thank you.

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