Archive for the ‘Accountability’ Category

MEDIA RELEASE: 30th May 2013: AEC Decision Resolves National Executive Dispute



MEDIA RELEASE: 30th May 2013

AEC Decision Resolves National Executive Dispute

The Australian Electoral Commission today resolved a 10-month dispute within the national governing body of the Australian Democrats, determining those currently entitled to occupy key electoral positions.

The AEC decision reaffirms the membership rights and executive positions of two key office holders who were claimed by rivals to have either resigned from the Party or to have been expelled.

The AEC found that the rival group did not have the rights or powers to declare that National President Darren Churchill or Acting National Secretary Roger Howe had either resigned or been expelled.

Since last year, the dispute has led to the situation of two groups each claiming to be National Executive, producing rival National Journals. The decision effectively means that the faction which tried to take control of the Party has no legal standing as a “National Executive”.

The AEC inquiry examined the constitution and standing orders of the party and its National Executive and took submissions from contestants. It determined in favour of those who were already and had for some time, been registered with them.

Former Federal Parliamentary Leader, Lyn Allison, said that, with the umpire having ruled, the dispute is now over.

“This is an important and very clear decision by the AEC,” Ms Allison said.

“With less than four months until the Federal election, the party can now be rejuvenated and move forward with confidence in nominating candidates and organising its election campaign without the distraction of internal wrangling and legal challenges.”

“I encourage all members to put aside past differences and unite. This dispute was not about policy or direction so our vision for Australia is intact.

“We have a great party history to live up to and a good deal of work to do in giving Australians the chance to again be represented in the Federal Parliament by the Australian Democrats”.

Further information:

Bruce Hogben 0419 199 666

Australian Democrats (SA Division) Inc. Vice-President (Administration)


Lyn Allison 0407 691 512

Australian Democrats Senator for Victoria 1996-2008 and former Parliamentary Leader


AEC decision:

Media Release: 12th January 2013: Former Democrats Senator, Andrew Murray, Appointed to Child Sex Abuse Royal Commission


Darren July 2010ad-logo-colour-www

Media Release: 12th January 2013:

Former Democrats Senator, Andrew Murray, Appointed to Child Sex Abuse Royal Commission

The appointment yesterday of former WA Democrats Senator, Andrew Murray, to serve as a member of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is a tribute to his calibre and experience and is welcomed by the party he represented in the Parliament from 1996-2008.

A child migrant from Britain to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1951, Andrew Murray was responsible for the reference to, and served on, the Senate Committee which produced the powerful report Lost Innocents: Righting the Record about child migration to Australia and its consequences. Subsequently he served on the committee which produced follow-up reports, Forgotten Australians and Protecting Vulnerable Children.

“The many people who gave evidence and submissions to those inquiries hold Andrew Murray in enormous regard because of his compassion for and empathy with those who suffered so badly,” Australian Democrats National President, Darren Churchill, said today.

“We applaud his appointment to the Child Sex Abuse Royal Commission. All can take comfort that a man of this standing is one of the Commissioners who will consider the evidence of both the abused and the accused institutions and individuals.

“Andrew Murray was a Rhodes Scholar (1971) and brings great compassion for the downtrodden as well as an understanding of governance and institutional responsibilities. He served the Australian parliament and people with great distinction and we know that he will continue this life-long public service in his new role.

“Andrew Murray has much to contribute to the Royal Commission. His appointment is well deserved,” Mr Churchill concluded.

Media Contact:

Darren Churchill

National President

0412 196 473

Media Release: 17th August, 2012: Federal Government’s Electoral Bill anti-competitive, undemocratic and self-seeking


Media Release: 17th August, 2012

Federal Government’s Electoral Bill anti-competitive, undemocratic and self-seeking

The Federal Government is hell-bent on ensuring that the next election will be nothing more than a battle between the two best-funded political parties, say the Australian Democrats.

The Democrat’s National Campaign Director, Darren Churchill, has labelled the Government’s Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill 2012 as anything but an improvement.

In a submission on the Bill to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, the Democrats have expressed particular concern about the proposal to double campaign deposits for House of Representatives candidates from $500 to $1000 and for Senate candidates from $1000 to $2000.

“This is undemocratic: democracy and elections should be a contest of ideas, not a battle between the most cashed-up political parties. There is no evidence to suggest that the current deposits are not high enough to deter frivolous candidates, so this move is unnecessary.

“If these amendments are passed the deposits alone for a party to run in all seats across the country in both upper and lower houses would total $182,000 and that’s before the candidates take a step out into their electorates.”

Independents and candidates of unregistered political parties will also be targetted by the Bill – each candidate would be required to find 100 people in their electorate to sign their nomination form.

Mr Churchill said that this is almost guaranteed to produce failures in the nomination process and would be a significant deterrent to standing candidates for small or newly-established parties.

“It is designed to give a head-start to those few political parties that are registered or have representation in parliament, and while the Australian Democrats are a registered party, our view is neither we or any other party should be given an inbuilt advantage like this.

“The real effect of these proposals will be to entrench the two-party system and ensure there is no real challenge to the big boys.

“Australia needs a political system that maximises participation and represents a diversity of views – anything less is not good enough for a democratic system worthy of its name,” said Mr Churchill.



National Campaign Director,  Australian Democrats

Tel: 0412 196 473

Spot the difference between Greens rhetoric and action


MEDIA RELEASE: Election 2010: Thursday, 19th August, 2010

Spot the difference between Greens rhetoric and action

The Australian Democrats’ Senate candidate for the ACT, Darren Churchill, is encouraging voters to spot the difference between the rhetoric and action of The Greens when it comes to campaign donations.

Greens campaigning material

“The Greens are not funded by big corporate donors and special interests.”

Fairfax media 18th August

“The Greens have received their largest-ever political donation with a disaffected Victorian blue-collar union giving $325,000 to help the party win the seat of Melbourne and its first Victorian Senate spot.”

Mr Churchill argues that The Greens have obviously got a different understanding of the English language than the rest of the population.

“They have tried to paint themselves as whiter than white, but their own campaigning material shows the truth of the matter: they have accepted a very large donation, and it has come from a very big ‘special interest’ group.

“In their self justification they have shown themselves to be little different to other political parties.

“In accepting money from what is a powerful interest group, The Greens are trying to portray themselves as just a little bit pregnant.

“Hypocrisy just doesn’t wash,” said Mr Churchill

Further comment:

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats Senate candidate for the ACT

Tel: 0412 196 473

Note: The Australian Democrats have actively sought corporate funding, albeit selectively by avoiding businesses involved in, for example, nuclear and “defence” industries, and have always been very upfront about those donations.

Media bias towards big parties denies the voters a true choice.



Australian Democrats Senate candidate

Media Release: 16th August, 2010

Media bias towards big parties denies the voters a true choice.

The Australian Democrats are calling on the media to end their biased approach of presenting only Labor, Liberal and Green candidates on the ABC in particular, and on television and radio in general.

Four political parties and an independent are contesting the Senate election in the ACT for two Senate seats but some sections of the media are doing their best to ignore the existence of the Australian Democrats and the other candidate, independent John Glynn. Australian Democrats preferences are likely to decide the result in an expected close contest.

“Almost all the focus has been on Labor, Liberal and Green. My party, the Australian Democrats, seems to be overlooked yet again,” said Australian Democrats Senate candidate for the ACT, Darren Churchill. “The exception was for minor coverage about our preference arrangements – and even then it was from the perspective of the ever-whinging Greens, and our perspective was not given.”

“People say to me, ‘So, you are still around. Why aren’t you mentioned on the radio/TV? Aren’t you doing any media?’ The decision of the ABC in particular, to either ignore or omit us is nothing short of blatant political censorship!” declared Mr Churchill.

“Despite repeated requests to be included on Stateline and other programs, Stateline still went to air last Friday without us and my phonecalls to the ABC on other programs are responded to with ‘we’ll call you back if we have time,’ even when one of the other parties declines to take part.”

“Who gives the ABC the right to decide who the voters are informed about or not?” queried Mr Churchill. “It’s not their place to decide who is in the election or not. The voters of the ACT have a right to be informed about all their choices, not just the big parties.”

“The ABC’s ‘Code of Practice’ 2008, states that in regard to news and current affairs content: ‘Content will be impartial. Editorial judgements will be based on news values. One perspective will not be favoured over others’.” continued Mr Churchill “Why is the ABC determining who is to be heard? It prides itself on being a community broadcaster but the accusation of bias directed at it appears to be right. Is it our ABC or does it belong to the big political parties? All of the candidates have a right to be heard. It’s not democratic! Clearly the ABC has not adhered to it’s own ‘Code of Practice.’”

“Things might be different in other states and territories but Canberra has biased reporting, and the public needs to be informed, particularly for this election, because people are confused about the policies of Labor and Liberal, and the Greens are coming out with some very strange remarks.”

“The Australian Democrats are here. We are a part of this election. And the good people of Canberra are being short-changed!” Mr Churchill concluded.


Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats Senate candidate for the ACT

Tel: 0412 196 473

Greens lies make them unworthy of voters trust



Australian Democrats Senate candidate

Media Release: 16th August, 2010

Greens lies make them unworthy of voters trust

The Australian Democrats have refuted the lies being spread by the ACT Greens about preferences and the willingness to be negotiators, accusing the Greens of being unworthy of voters’ trust.

Interjecting at a GetUp! Senate forum yesterday, at which he was deliberately excluded by the organisers, Australian Democrats Senate candidate for the ACT, Darren Churchill waved a list of environmental outcomes in the air, calling out to the Greens candidate: “Here’s a list of the things for the environment we negotiated with the previous government – all of which you opposed!”

And when the Greens accused Mr Churchill of reneging on a preference deal his response was “That’s a lie!”

Explaining his version of events, Mr Churchill said: “One thing we learned from Chipp was the importance of not allowing anything untrue or inaccurate said or published about oneself, on the public record, to go un-refuted.”

“There was no deal on preferences with the Greens. The Australian Democrats decide where our preferences go, not the Greens. And voters always have the option of voting below the line.”

“But it’s all about who is prepared to act in the interest of the ACT. Being prepared to cross the floor against your party line in the interest of your constituents is what ‘keeping the bastards honest’ is all about. Kate Lundy is bound by her party rules and would be expelled for crossing the floor. The Greens can’t be trusted. Over two decades we have found that the Greens have misrepresented the Democrats again and again.

“That leaves small ‘l’ Liberal Gary Humphries, who has crossed the floor for the ACT in the past. If I am unsuccessful in being elected, then Gary Humphries is the least worst alternative for Canberra.” continued Mr Churchill

“As for the claim that the Greens want immediate action on the environment there must have been some latter day conversion. But I doubt it – although the Rudd Government’s ETS was flawed, it would have been a start, it would have been better than nothing, but the Greens voted it down.

“By contrast a list provided to me by our former parliamentary leader shows where the Australian Democrats achieved environmental outcomes in negotiations with the previous government,” said Mr Churchill.

“It reads: ‘We also negotiated hundreds of amendments to the new (in 1999) Federal environment laws, strengthening them very substantially. Before that the Commonwealth had very few powers over development impacting on the environment. (We started this reform by initiating and chairing an inquiry reporting in 1997 on the need for Commonwealth environment law.)

Thanks to our negotiation, Australia had for the first time, standards governing fuel emissions and eventually matched Europe’s standards

We negotiated renewable energy for thousands of off-grid, remote communities that previously relied on diesel for power generation.

And two extensions of the rooftop PV grants.

We negotiated $400 million to leverage large scale energy efficiency in big industry.

The Greens opposed all the above.’

“This clearly shows where the Australian Democrats have negotiated good things for the environment, while the Greens have just huffed and puffed and talked and told lies.”

“If I am elected, I will continue the good work of the Australian Democrats. We need action, not just talk on the environment. I will deliver, because you deserve better!” Mr Churchill concluded.


Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats Senate candidate for the ACT

Tel: 0412 196 473

Australian Democrats call on Liberals to end dirty tricks campaign



Australian Democrats Senate candidate

Media Release: 8th August, 2010

Australian Democrats call on Liberals to end dirty tricks campaign

The Australian Democrats call on the Liberal party to end their dirty tricks campaign where they use the names of other candidates to link people to their own website.

Lead Senate candidate for the Australian Democrats, Darren Churchill, was notified by a member of the public that a banner advertisement had been set up in internet search engine Google that tricks people into going to the Liberal Party website, instead of to the candidate of their choice.

“This shows the dishonesty of their campaigning. It is a grubby little dirty tricks campaign and a blatant attempt to deceive the public,” declared Mr Churchill

“Does Gary Humphries support this or is it the so-called “faceless men” of the party machine?” questioned Mr Churchill.

“This clearly shows what the Liberal Party has descended to. Clearly the Liberals cannot be trusted. This sort of tactic is completely unAustralian!”

I have contacted the AEC about this matter and I’ll be asking them to refer it to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters

“Clearly the Liberal Party is scared of electoral diversity. They are not a liberal party at all. If people want liberalism and diversity then the Australian Democrats are here to provide it.

“This or any other form of electoral dishonesty is just not on. It’s time to return some honesty and integrity to politics. Canberra voters know this and clearly deserve better. The Australian Democrats denounce this sort of behaviour. Let’s get back to keeping the bastards honest!” Mr Churchill concluded.


Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats Senate candidate for the ACT

Tel: 0412 196 473

A speech by Darren Churchill, ACT Democrats president, at the Declaration of the Poll, ACT Legislative Assembly, 29 October 2008.


A speech by Darren Churchill, ACT Democrats president, at the Declaration of the Poll, ACT Legislative Assembly, 29 October 2008.

I’d like to thank Elections ACT for their professionalism, advice and assistance before and during the election period. And for their professional and proper conduct of the election. The respect and courtesy shown to our candidates is much appreciated, as is their commitment to the electoral process.

As you are well aware, my party faced some difficult obstacles to our participation in this year’s Election. The lack of a party column is what, I think, hurt us badly. We were ungrouped, so our vote reflected a typical ungrouped party’s vote.

It’s now time to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. As of midnight on Election night, we can re-register without any need to rename ourselves or become something we are not.

Despite the result, we did run good a campaign. We covered a lot of ground with a small and dedicated band of members and volunteers.

I am incredibly impressed at how good the media were (on the whole) to us. Minor parties often have trouble getting coverage. But we certainly got our share.

We raised good issues, pushed the Democrats message and were a part of the whole campaign. Even if our vote didn’t reflect the interest that was shown to us.

The final composition of the new assembly is now known. Congratulations to the parties elected and especially to the new members.

We don’t know which party it will be who forms the next government. No party will have a majority – and to that end we should be glad of the result, even though there will be no Democrats in this Assembly.

It’s time to move into the future now. There are a number of new opportunities to explore as I take my party, the Australian Democrats, into that future and embrace it and look forward with a positive focus and new energy as the great “progressive” party we are.

In four years time we intend contest the next election, from a position of greater strength. And further down the track, we will be able to look back and say: “We’re still going strong. And we still “keep the bastards honest!'”

My sincere thanks once again to everyone. And congratulations to the new MLAs.

Thank you.