Archive for the ‘Media Releases’ Category

Media Release: 7th March 2013: Increased Electoral Deposit Fees To Decimate Minor Parties


Darren July 2010


Media Release: 7th March 2013:

Increased Electoral Deposit Fees To Decimate Minor Parties

New laws to double the deposits lodged by candidates contesting federal elections, realistically threaten to take small parties out of the electoral process and have highlighted the fact that the ballot paper is no longer a suitable means to record votes at a federal election, according to a coalition of Australia’s minor parties.

Sex Party president Fiona Patten, Australian Democrats president, Darren Churchill, Hemp Party secretary, Graham Askey and Stable Population Party president, William Bourke said the new fees were a form of economic censorship directed at small parties by the two major parties and the timing of the legislation, only 10 weeks out from the cut-off for lodgement of party registration forms for the next federal election, was a transparent attempt to knock out their competition. “Increasing candidate deposit fees to dissuade smaller parties from registering for an election, just to make a ballot paper more workable, is undemocratic. It represents a monstrous act of electoral fraud and deception”, they said.

The coalition of minor parties claimed that a better way to limit the size of the ballot papers would be to change the method of voting rather than the economic censorship of political parties and their ideas. “Voting on a ballot paper under the same old voting system with lead pencils, is now outdated if the outcome is a financial impost so high that small parties can no longer afford to register. If people can log on and do their tax returns online, why can’t they cast a secure vote online, at the ballot box, these days? Other voting systems like optional preferential voting for below-the-line voters in Senate elections could also achieve the desired effect of making voting easier and simpler rather than ‘taxing’ small parties off the ballot paper”.

The new legislation to increase the fees passed the Senate unamended, even though the Greens, and independents tried to amend it. “Any party who gets through the rigorous registration procedures administered by the AEC and wants to run above the line to maximise the registration of their party name, will now have to stump up an absolute minimum of $32,000 (8 x $4,000) to run a federal senate ticket”, they said. “The increases will not even be noticed by the major parties who spend millions of dollars during an election but for small parties this could now represent most of their election budget and leave them nothing for campaigning. The major parties and even the Greens are not going to be adversely affected by this at all because they all poll above 4% and have their costs paid for by the taxpayer.”

The coalition of minor parties said that the major parties had large funding bases through the union movement, big business and the environmental movement but minor parties were often funded in their early days through office bearers and volunteers mortgaging their homes and donating part of their wages to see a party through its first few elections.

“Small parties are an integral part of Australia’s political landscape and if they disappear it will shrink the gene pool of new political ideas and trends” they said.

While voting is compulsory in Australia, the group said it should be as accessible as possible and allow for the maximum electoral choice – not the minimum.

Fiona Patten: Sex Party, 0413 734 613

Darren Churchill: Australian Democrats, 0412 196 473

Graham Askey: Hemp Party, 02 6621 5058

William Bourke: President, Stable Population Party, 0448 620 525

Australian Democrats Media Contact:

Darren Churchill

National President

0412 196 473


small Democrats logo (2)


Media Release: Wednesday, 26th September, 2012: Australian Democrats say: Expunge the criminal record of Sodomy

National Campaign Director
Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: Wednesday, 26th September, 2012:

Australian Democrats say: Expunge the criminal record of Sodomy

State governments must act to redress a long-standing wrong and expunge the criminal records of men convicted of sodomy under previous, antiquated laws, say the Australian Democrats.

“The stigma of a criminal conviction continues to hang over the lives of these citizens, many of whom are now quite elderly,” Democrats’ National Campaign Director said today. “We have unfinished business to complete here.”

Federal law decriminalised homosexual acts between consenting adults in the ACT in 1973 and South Australia was the first state to decriminalise sex between consenting men in 1975; Tasmania the last in 1997.

The United Kingdom is expunging historic convictions for consensual gay sex with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which received Royal Assent on 1st May.

UK hyperlink:

“The Democrats’ position on this matter is driven by the essential principles of justice, equality and human rights.

“Australian states and territories have an obligation to further redeem the past wrongs imposed by bad laws and enforced by bigots by enacting new spent conviction legislation that erases the criminal record of gay men prior to the decriminalisation of homosexual conduct.

“We are all diminished by forcing many hundreds of gay men to carry this criminal record burden for activities that are now properly accepted as legal by society.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Media contacts:

Darren Churchill

Tel: 0412 196 473


David Collyer:

Tel: 0413 248 193

Income Tax Policy: better, simpler, fairer


MEDIA RELEASE:Election 2010: Wednesday, 18th August 2010

Darren Churchill – Taxation spokesperson

Income Tax Policy: better, simpler, fairer

The Australian Democrats have embraced radical income tax reform with a plan to improve equity simplicity and efficiency.

The party’s tax spokesperson, Darren Churchill of the ACT, has restated his party’s plans in relation to a tax reform whereby low-income earners are not taxed and the tax base is broadened by reforming Fringe Benefits tax and Capital gains Tax.

“We want to make the tax system fair so that people can live more affordably” said Mr Churchill

“The tax-free threshold has remained at $6 000 since the year 2000. This has been despite Australian Democrats calls for it to be increased. We want to increase it to $25 000 by indexing it over time. This would involve the systematic removal of rebates and offsets, making the system fairer and less complex.

“It would mean that eventually a person earning less than $25 000 would pay no income tax.” Mr Churchill continued. “This will make life much easier for casual and part-time workers, as well as for others on low incomes.”

The Australian Democrats are also calling for indexation of income tax thresholds, more equity in the superannuation system by lowering taxes at the lower end of the earning scale and increasing them for the wealthy.

“Our income tax plan means lower effective tax rates for lower and middle income earners, a more efficient system with less loopholes, and removal of the tax traps for people on welfare who work part-time or who are trying to move back to work.” concluded Mr Churchill.

Further comment: Darren Churchill ph. 0412 196 473

(Full copies of the Democrats’ action plan for income tax are available on request)

Affairs of the Foreign kind


MEDIA RELEASE: Election 2010: Tuesday, 17th August 2010

Affairs of the Foreign kind

Apart from the scapegoating of refugees and asylum seekers, issues relating to Foreign Affairs have gone missing in this election, say the Australian Democrats.

Democrats’ Senate candidate for the ACT, Darren Churchill says there are crucial questions that are not being asked of the big parties or debated by the community at large.

“Why is there no debate about a defence budget which takes up 2% of the total GDP, when Australia is barely scraping in at 0.5% of GDP for foreign aid?

“Should Australia be involved in distant conflicts such as the war in Afghanistan rather than peace-keeping activities in countries in our own region?

“With more than 23,000 nuclear weapons poised ready to strike around the world, why isn’t there debate about nuclear disarmament in this election?

“When it comes to the so-called boat people, rather than trying to blame the victim, might it not be better to increase our foreign aid in the countries they are fleeing so that the inequalities and instabilities are reduced in the first instance?

“Might we be better served by creating a Peace and Non-Violence Commission to provide non-military solutions to conflict and security issues?

“Australia could credibly take the lead at the UN in pressing for negotiated solutions to longstanding conflicts such as Israel/Palestine and Afghanistan.

“Seventy years ago we played a leading role in the world in negotiating the UN Human Rights Charter. The Australian Democrats say that this is where we should be and can be again.

“Right now voters are being poorly served by the major parties and the media’s willingness to keep on dishing up ‘colour stories’ to the masses – they really do deserve better,” said Mr Churchill.

Further comment:

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

Media Release: 20th January 2010: Canberrans must have a guarantee that South Australian Movie Laws won’t be copied by ACT Assembly, say Democrats.



ACT Democrats President

Media Release: 20th January 2010:

Canberrans must have a guarantee that South Australian Movie Laws won’t be copied by ACT Assembly, say Democrats.

ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill has called on ACT political leaders to confirm that South Australia’s “plain packaging” laws for R-rated movies will not be mirrored here in the ACT

Recent news reports described South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson’s new laws as coming quietly into effect this week, requiring R-rated movies to be displayed in plain packaging unless they are in an area quarantined from minors.

“The issue is not a matter of availability. R-rated movies are restricted to over 18’s and that should continue. But we need to ensure that a driver’s licence, pub card or passport is provided if the age of the hirer/purchaser is uncertain, the same as for alcohol or cigarettes.” said Mr Churchill

“Quarantining R-rated from minors is one thing. But plain packaging gives them an air of mischievousness and a naughty quality, which makes them more attractive. It’s reminiscent of soft porn magazines having to be sold under the counter and in brown paper bags in Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland of the 1970s and 1980s.”

“South Australia’s new laws that restrict marketing and display of R18+ material make it more difficult for consumers to access information about media content, by preventing them from seeing posters and DVD covers that could help them make an informed decision about their viewing. Censorship prevents adult Australians making informed decisions. We do not want this sort of ridiculous behaviour mirrored in the ACT!” declared Mr Churchill.

“With South Australia taking knee-jerk action that hides useful information but has no effect on access to the product, it is surely time for a full national review of our classification laws?” queried Mr Churchill. “That includes allowing the states to sell X-rated material and not restricting it to the territories.”

“I often get frustrated with the wowser attitude that wants to stop X-rated movies but allow R-rated movies. Surely, they should be treated the same and sold through over-18 outlets (with appropriate identification), in the same way as cigarettes and alcohol are? Sometimes the strongest opponents of liberal censorship laws for adults are those with the most to hide.” continued Mr Churchill

“Also, like cigarettes, alcohol, gambling (pokies, TAB, casinos) and X-rated products, R-rated products should not be promoted to those who are too young to have legal access, nor be advertised on TV, radio, billboards, sporting ground ads, etc, in places which underage people frequent. But, they should be able to be promoted openly in venues, which are only open to those who can have legal access. That is, no restrictions if all those with access are over age.”

“Censorship for adults is wrong and we oppose it. But we do believe in some level of control of access for young people. What we are proposing is equal treatment of all age-restricted products.”

The ACT Democrats and I have consistently opposed government attempts to control information. The Democrats will continue to speak out for the right and responsibility of all individuals, especially parents, to determine for themselves and their families what is acceptable. The government’s role is to implement widely accepted community standards, not define them to suit particular lobby groups and impose them on the community.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

President, Australian Democrats (ACT Division)

Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: 23 April 2009: “Where’s the Vision in 2020 Top 9?” ask Democrats




ACT Democrats President

“Where’s the Vision in 2020 Top 9?” ask Democrats

“The Prime Minister’s 2020 shortlist is a bit like an ad on the TV” says ACT Australian Democrats president, Darren Churchill. “A few catchy ideas that make us all think ‘isn’t that clever’ but no real investment in the things that matter.

The Federal Government today announced the nine key ideas to be focused on from last year’s 2020 summit are: a bionic eye, a children’s TV channel, a civilian army for regional emergencies, golden gurus to mentor younger workers, Asian/Australian scholarships for cultural understanding, business and schools partnerships, a green skills “carbon challenge” a vocational education broadband network and children & family centres to help indigenous people.

“There’s some good things amongst that. We welcome any initiatives for carbon awareness, cultural understanding, emergency relief and indigenous people.” Mr Churchill said. ” But we have to be careful that we don’t allow this process to detract from the major goals of Greenhouse Gas reduction, economic recovery and building a really visionary future for our children”

“A children’s TV channel is a great idea.. But ABC for Kids already exists doesn’t it? So what’s new?

“What about some serious effort for greenhouse reduction in addition to “green skilling?” questioned Mr Churchill.

“I agree, younger workers need support and advice from those with experience. But what about raising the whole minimum standards in vocational education and training in the first place?”

“Surely, water has to be a priority? Water security, conservation and sustainability surely must be of higher priority than some of the Top 9? Has the government seriously considered rainwater tanks? What about the acquisition of water entitlements in over-allocated systems? We need a comprehensive national water strategy. Surely this has to be a priority?” insisted Mr Churchill

“Indigenous health is still appallingly below that of non-indigenous. How about something to help there? Surely that is a national priority?”

“Perhaps the civilian army for regional emergencies should be managed by assisting the existing aid agencies. Give them support to use volunteers in the same way that we have volunteer bush fire fighters. Provide compensation for employers, volunteer costs, and any injuries or losses.”

“At a time when the government is tinkering with economic stimulus, these areas could be a priority. Not to mention other nation building exercises such as upgrading rail networks and national highways. How about some improvements to public transport to make the systems far preferable to the private vehicle?”

“There’s some nice ideas there Mr Rudd. But show us the real substance and some 2020 vision!” concluded Mr Churchill

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: 22 April 2009: One Child Policy too draconian say Democrats




ACT Democrats President

One Child Policy too draconian say Democrats

ACT Australian Democrats president, Darren Churchill has described comments made by radical Green group Sustainable Population Australia as going too far.

Earlier today the president of Sustainable Population Australia, former South Australian Democrat MLC Sandra Kanck expressed the opinion of her lobby group that Australia should consider having a one-child policy to avoid “environmental suicide.”

“This is not Australian Democrats policy!” Mr Churchill declared. “We do not advocate anything that would restrict people’s freedom of choice on family matters.”

“The Australian Democrats have always advocated individual choice and we do not back away from that now. Australians are capable of intelligently determining strategies to deal with the pressures facing our environment.

“Australia does need a population policy. The pressure on our water and other natural resources is incredible. But the approach should be about education not legislation.”

“The approach of the Democrats is to support and encourage new and creative ways of dealing with the economic, social and environmental problems facing Australia.” Mr Churchill said.

“Sustainable Population Australia has every right to make comment and get discussion going. We need to look at all angles to address these problems, especially with the water crisis and climate change. Some of them will not be acceptable

“Engaging different views and giving people a say is democracy. Our decision to disagree with those we regard as wrong is democracy too.”

“The Australian Democrats strongly believe in working together to find practical solutions to all our problems without infringing the right of Australians to individual freedom of choice. Stabilisation and sustainable population can be achieved without legislating family size. Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Tel: 0412 196 473