Archive for the ‘Senate Campaign 2010’ Category

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.

Post Election Thanks:


Many thanks to the people of the AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY who voted for me and to those who wished me well.

Many thanks also to my supporters and helpers, both members of the Australian Democrats and others.

We held our ground from the last election,  winning roughly the same percentage of the vote.  And that’s not easy to do when much of the media and most forum organisers have largely decided that the focus will only be on the three big parties.

Our result was the  best Senate vote for an Australian Democrats team,  in this election.  I finished fourth out of nine on first preferences.

We fought a good campaign but lacked much media interest until the final week.   But getting attention in the final week is rare for the Australian Democrats,  so that was an achievement in itself.

I thank the Australian Democrats for allowing me the honour of representing them at the highest level of candidacy.

And to everyone, thanks again for your effort and support and the faith of those who voted for me.

Darren Churchill

As the elected Senator for the ACT I will:


As the elected Senator for the ACT I will:

· balance economic policy with social and environmental considerations. Good economic management is about getting the balance right. It’s a “triple bottom line;”

· return a “balance of reason” to the Senate;

· vote with my conscience on all issues;

· support human rights, civil liberties and privacy;

· fairly represent the interests of all people in the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory, regardless of race, gender, religion or place of origin;

· maintain the traditional Australian Democrats principle of supporting legislation that is fair and equitable and seek to amend and make fairer that which is not (sensible negotiation);

· ensure that whichever party forms the government, they are held accountable for their actions;

· support industries that create jobs and are kind to the environment, and not those that will make problems for future generations. NO uranium mining and NO nuclear reactors;

· encourage investment in sustainable agricultural practices and sensible rural water management.

· encourage sensible use and management of urban water;

· encourage and support environmentally sustainable practices in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Elect a true liberal to the Senate


Tired of Labor?

Worried the Liberals are too conservative?

Don’t trust the Greens?

There IS an alternative:


The Australian Democrats are not beholden to big business or the unions or chained to any extreme ideology or religion. We are a party that makes judgements based on what is fair and just and moral. We are the only party that simply fights for what is right.

For honesty, tolerance and compassion.

You can Depend on us!


You CAN change the world!


Give a Damn!

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.

NBN is essential for small business but filter will ruin efficiency



Australian Democrats Senate candidate

Media Release: 18th August, 2010

NBN is essential for small business but filter will ruin efficiency

The Australian Democrats support the National Broadband Network (NBN) project and will support its ongoing rollout.

“We are disappointed that the Federal Government has done such a poor job in selling the idea to the public” said Anthony David, ACT Senate Candidate and Information Technology spokesman.

“Vague references to productivity, Smartgrid and universal access are not compelling arguments”

“The Coalition’s broadband plan would have been welcome if they had released it a decade ago. It will not provide for Australia’s future needs”

“The NBN is good for consumers, good for communities and good for business. It will reshape digital communications and how we interact as a nation”

“The Labor party need to drop the mandatory ISP filter as it runs counter to the efficacy of the NBN.” continued Mr David. “We also need assurances that the current broadband arrangement where the wholesaler of services competes directly with retailers has no chance of being entrenched in the new system”

“Remote communities and farmers need access to national and international information and services as much as those in urban communities”

“For over two decades, small and medium sized businesses in particular have been hampered by overpriced and under-performing wide-area digital communications. The Australian Democrats want to see reasonable prices for business plans with good upload bandwidth. This will enable efficient communications between businesses and their customers, their suppliers and their remote offices”.

In conclusion, Mr David said “Hand-in-hand with these new business opportunities is the need for capital markets in Australia to help fund innovative business ideas, including social enterpreneurs, enabled by this new technology”

Anthony David

Australian Democrats Senate candidate for the ACT

Tel: 0414 581 385

Anthony NBN

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

A speech to the ACT Council of Social Service Community Sector ‘Meet the Candidates’ Forum for the 2010 Federal Election


A speech  to the ACT Council of Social Service Community Sector ‘Meet the Candidates’ Forum for the 2010 Federal Election: 16th August 2010.

Thank you.

A bit of background about me. In spite of my advocacy for separation of Church and State, I am a practising Anglican – an Anglo-Catholic. For those of you who don’t know anything of Anglo-Catholicism, we have a history of being ‘the Church in the slums,’ ministering to the poor of the inner-cities. So, a social justice angle there.

The last few decades of Australia’s history have led to an increasing level of conservatism in our community. I don’t mean this as a political statement, but as a social comment. It started well before the Howard years and continues today.

The primary result has been an increasing level of selfishness by the well off in our community, and this has moved on into the political arena with a series of both governments and oppositions failing the disadvantaged – and creating a larger gap between the rich and poor.

We should have had political leadership that resisted this pressure and had the moral courage to improve conditions for lower income earners and disadvantaged groups, and as the topic here today “the contest for a fairer nation” implies, it really is time to regain lost ground.

The Australian Democrats have a proud record of being the people’s watchdog in the Senate. We speak for everyone and anyone who needs a voice.   We are committed to fighting for the rights of all Australians and our environment.

We are aware of our damaged environment and depleting water resources, and are prepared to stand up to protect them. We have called for immediate action on climate change. We speak on behalf of the Australian people, seek affordable health and free education, and aim to protect ordinary Australians struggling to pay their bills. We stand against the exploitation and marginalisation of Indigenous Australians and other minority groups.

We fight against discrimination and bigotry. Our long history of being led by strong women has given us the passion to fight for issues often ignored by male politicians – paid maternity leave, affordable child care, reproductive health and free education to name a few.

One of our important proposals in relation to money, is our income tax proposal to increase the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $25,000. A long-standing Australian Democrats position. And I acknowledge the work of my colleague, former Senator Andrew Murray, for his work on this policy.

Thank you.


The following points were included but not presented due to the tight, two minute time constraint:

Australian Democrats policy

To address some of the points in the contest for a fairer nation document, I want to give some examples of current Australian Democrats policy statements.

Income tax and incomes

The current income tax system is complex, unfair and highly inefficient due to significant churning effects and unnecessary tax concessions. The Democrats plan would improve equity, simplicity and efficiency.

Proposals from our 2010 Income Tax issue sheet include;

· Increase the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $25,000

· Index income tax rate thresholds to maintain their present value over time

· Remove unnecessary tax deductions and concessions such as FBT for company cars and other salary packaging and negative gearing deductions

Health and Mental Health

A quick selection of points from our 2010 health issue sheets includes;

· A 5-year Capacity Building Plan for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

· Increase the rate of carer payment to 75% of the standard minimum wage and double the rate of the carer allowance

· A national public dental health program that is free for concession card holders and special needs groups, and which includes a full dental check-up and basic dental treatment every two years.

· a national system of community-based mental health centres staffed by psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and psychiatric nurses

· coordinated case management for at least 12 months after discharge from mental health acute care

Climate Change and power bills

The science is clear – the world’s climate is changing fast. Greenhouse emissions must be reduced across the economy using a multitude of measures. Both the Stern Report and the Garnaut Report show that indirect costs of doing nothing will be higher than the direct cost of taking action. Increased direct energy costs must be tackled by;

· A carbon tax of $20/tonne until emissions trading commences

· A tax on coal exports of $5/tonne, with the revenue used to subsidise power bills for low income earners

· 6-star energy performance standards for appliances by 2012, 10-star by 2017 and a target of overall energy efficiency of 30% by 2020

· I also want to make it clear that the Australian Democrats are opposed to nuclear power.


The Australian Democrats are not new to population policy. We have for years said that we cannot continue to grow our population at the behest of the development lobby, which is the prime beneficiary of such growth. We have rejected the flawed argument that population growth can be sustained merely by having better urban planning.

Perhaps total immigration rates should be capped?  This would be, however, without any reduction in refuge intakes, in order to meet our humanitarian obligations.   We want an eventual end to the skilled migration programme.  Australia must take responsibility for its own skills training.


Please think seriously about your vote.   Please think of the Democrats, You deserve better.

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