A new political party, People Power, was launched on Mother’s Day at the Imperial Hotel in Melbourne. The style of electioneering planned will be unique in the world for a registered party as all campaigns will be web-based and we won’t be restricted just to politics.

The party has been founded by President Stephen Mayne and National Director Vern Hughes but will be run by a board of trustees including the following members:

Peter Mair

Former Senior Manager, Reserve Bank of Australia

Former senior adviser, Australian Financial System Inquiry (Campbell Committee)

Consumer representative for thoroughbred horse-racing in NSW

Policy interests: Consumer issues, banking and finance, competition policy.

Jim Bristow

Melbourne business: Fleet Leasing Sales & Management

Former Managing Director, Manufacturing & Wholesaling Company

Policy interests: Business ethics and accountability.

James Hardy

National Manager, Special Projects, Top 50 Company

Policy interests: Consumer and shareholder issues that impact on the broader community, ethical investment, the ‘triple bottom line’, banking.

David Rutledge

Small business operator

Former beef farmer

Former Director, National Beef Improvement Association

Policy interests: Agriculture, citizen participation, education.

Mark Ward will be the first People Power backed candidate standing in the upcoming Aston by-election. Mark is a quality manager for an IT company and former small businessman who lives just outside the electorate.

Technically Mark will stand as an independent as People Power has today launched its membership drive to secure the necessary 500 signatures for federal registration which will be submitted to the AEC within four weeks.

Mark joined People Power to advance his commitment to accountability and transparency in business and government. He is a former member of the Australian Democrats, but believes it long ago abandoned the role of “keeping the bastards honest” and has lost the confidence of small business.

People Power also announced its ticket for the upcoming Melbourne City Council elections. Party president Stephen Mayne will be standing for Lord Mayor and national director Vern Hughes will run for deputy Lord Mayor.

Architect Richard Brew will be running for council as will a well-known identity in sporting and business circles who has asked that his name be withheld for a few days.

The MCC platform will be strong on ethics and accountability for councillors and restoring public trust in the discredited council which has an annual budget of $180 million.

The most notable part of the platform will be a policy of reducing annual rates by up to 20 per cent and thereby reducing the risk of more council spending on wasteful investments such as the $500 million Federation Square project.

As a resident and worker in the city for 10 years, Stephen Mayne is sick of paying $3000 a year in rates for little return.

On the corporate front, People Power will be backing Sydney-based IT executive Glen Smith for a spot on the Macquarie Bank board at the AGM in July. Glen is already running for the Keycorp board later this month and has an MBA and 16 years experience in IT.

Stephen Mayne was the first Australian to try and systematically break into the closed shop that is the corporate directors club and People Power is now looking for other quality candidates to back.

Other corporate campaigns to be run this year include:

Commonwealth Bank: Opposing cash for comment with Alan Jones and passive funds management.

John Fairfax: Need to remove conflicted directors and boost industry experience.

News Corporation: need to reduce management and Murdoch family dominance.

NRMA: Opposing cash for comment with John Laws and passive funds management.

PBL: Opposition to political donations and need for more directors independent of the Packers.

Westfield Trust: Need to get a board independent of Westfield Holdings.

Vern Hughes said there was no time like the present to launch a political party and our proposition is unique to Australia.

“There is a huge vacuum in Australian politics. The two majors are running on empty and the minor parties are not credible alternatives. People Power aims to fill this vacuum. It will be a broad-based, socially progressive, economically literate party,” said Vern Hughes, community worker and co-founder of People Power.

“People Power aims to renew Australia’s democracy, reverse the stagnation in our institutions, and revive our public life. It is the only political party in Australia that will participate in elections in public companies, trade unions, sporting bodies, associations, and local governments, as well as elections for state and federal parliaments. It will keep politicians, business leaders, and community representatives on their toes, and drive transparency, accountability and performance in all our institutions.”

Stephen Mayne told the 50 people at the launch that People Power should be seen as a party keen to bring competition to elected positions across the board and that we should be judged on the quality of the candidates we can find to challenge poorly performing incumbents.

” We can’t be pigeon-holed as left or right wing because it really is a mix of philosophy. We will be the only party to oppose rural pork-barrelling and vote-buying. We will support increased immigration, and oppose corporate cartels in banking, telecommunications, and the media. We will expand consumer and shareholder rights. We will confront gambling interests head on. We will put the spotlight on corporate moguls and their relationships with lame regulators and tame governments. We will be for an Australian republic.”

In the coming federal election, People Power will contest the sixth Senate position in each state and present itself as the only economically literate alternative to the major parties.

The People Power prospectus is available at www.peoplepower.org.au

Contact: Vern Hughes: 0425 722 890: [email protected]

Stephen Mayne: [email protected]


Now, here is some material discussing how Crikey will be affected by the launch of People Power.

Firstly, if you want to check out the People Power site, read the prospectus or get a membership form, just click here.

A number of people have and will continue to discourage Stephen Mayne’s involvement in such a venture, especially after carrying on like a pork job for being denied access as a journalist to a John Brumby press conference on business tax reform.

The simple answer to this is that ever since www.jeffed.com was launched in September 1999, I have been combining journalism with activism.

I tried to stand against Jeff Kennett in the general election in September 1999 and then did stand in the by-election for his old seat of Burwood in December 1999 after the Kennett government was defeated.

We then backed independent Bill Hill in the Benalla by-election and I’ve subsequently run for the boards of AMP, Axa, ASX, Commonwealth Bank, David Jones, National Australia Bank, NRMA, WA News, Westfield Holdings and Woolworths. We also backed Denise Brailey in her campaign against Dodgy Doug Shave for the WA seat of Alfred Cove.

You can’t compare People Power with any other political party because someone like Pauline Hanson has never been a journalist. I won’t stop writing stories and passing commentary for our readers and subscribers. Things will change if I actually get elected into a full time position somewhere but until that time my full time position will be as the publisher of www.crikey.com.au which will continue to combine journalism and activism.

And whilst People Power will be a registered political party, the platform is planned to be far broader than just politics. We take the view that Australia suffers from the lack of competition for elected positions right across the spectrum. In its simplest terms we are going to be a vehicle to encourage good people to put their hands up and have a go. Once elected, they will be free to do what they want and act individually, we will simply support them in trying to get elected in the place of someone less deserving.

Journalists will no doubt throw conflict of interest claims and the replies will remain that our model of reporting is called “immersion journalism” where you sometimes become part of the story. This has been going on for 18 months with immersion journalism as a shareholder activist so nothing much will change with the launch of People Power.

Still, it might end up being a trigger for a debate on journalistic ethics and conflicts which we are more than ready for.

Quadrant editor Paddy McGuiness is a former Labor staffer and current councillor in Balmain. And this email just came in from Perth about two Channel Seven journalists who have been elected onto local councils.

Seven’s journalists cum councillors out West

“Stephen, Reece Whitby is a reporter who was senior producer (he went back on the road after being looked over for the news director’s job). He is a councillor in Cottesloe.

Paul Kadak is now a producer, was a reporter for both seven and nine. he is a councillor at Joondalup and even gives out business cards from there with his photo on!

Both say they avoid conflict in their jobs by avoiding any stories that relate to their councils.

I wouldn’t be surprised if both of them had political aspirations higher than local govt.


Journalists who have worked for politicians

There are a number of working journalists out there who have sold out at some point in their careers and actually taken the taxpayer’s shilling to become a spin doctor or advisor to politicians from major political parties.

Quite rightly, no-one denies them their right to return to our great profession after they have helped run campaigns and distribute spin for big political machines.

Many of them will have at times sent off job applications to work for the various politicians but continued working as journalists whilst this was in train. The same applies to all People Power candidates, including Stephen Mayne.

Running for an elected position is essentially a job application with a lot of different employers. But until you’ve actually been elected into a new job, you continue with your old job.

Anyway, enough of this defensive “they do it too stuff”, this is the list of journalists who have worked for politicians. Please send in any corrections or additions.

Working Journalists Who Have Worked For Politicians

Peter Alford West Australian, Herald Sun, Jeff Kennett, Australian
Dennis Atkins Wayne Goss, Courier Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, NSW Labor Education minister Rod Cavalier
Paul Bailey Cavalier, Sydney Morning Herald, Bulletin editor
Mark Bannerman Ten, John Button, ABC.
David Barnett Australian, Fraser, Bulletin, AFR, freelance.
Andrew Bolt Melbourne Herald, Bob Collins, Herald Sun.
Tom Burton SMH, Michael Duffy, Department of Communications, SMH, AFR, SMH Online.
Barrie Cassidy ABC, Bob Hawke, Ten, ABC Television.
Gabriell Chan Australian, Peter Collins, freelance.
Peter Coster Melbourne Herald, Peacock, Herald Sun.
Julianne Davies John Cain, Age.
Joel Deane Melbourne Sun, Vic Health, EPA, John Brumby, various San Fran TV/web outlets.
Michael Doyle The Age, Melbourne Herald, John Cain, ABC Television.
Michael Duffy Independent Monthly, Carr, Telegraph columnist.
Michael Dwyer Tom Uren, Financial Review.
Bernie Freedman Federal Immigration department, Jewish News.
Darren Goodsir Bob Gibbs (Qld Labor), Sun Herald.
Kate Hannon Laurie Brereton, News Ltd.
Michael Harvey Melbourne Herald, David White (Vic ALP), Herald Sun.
Paul Heinrichs Cain, Age.
Nick Hordern AFR, Reith, AFR.
Hugo Kelly Age, Brian Howe, Richard Ellis, freelance
Michael Magazanik Age, Duncan Kerr (Fed ALP), Australian, ABC Television.
Terry Maher AFR, Bulletin, Alan Stockdale (Vic Lib Opposition), Melbourne Times, freelance
Stephen Mayne Herald Sun, Age, Kennett, Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, AFR, The Eye, Crikey.
John McCarthy Greiner, Courier Mail.
Paddy McGuinness economist, Bill Hayden, Australian Financial Review, Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Quadrant
Frank McGuire Melbourne Herald, John Cain, Ten, ABC, McGuire Media.
Glen Mitchell Australian, Phil Gude (Vic Liberal), International Public Relations, Herald Sun.
Ian Munro Melbourne Sun, Joan Kirner, Sunday Age, Age.
Kevin Norbury Hamer, Age.
Kerry O’Brien Gough Whitlam/Lionel Bowen, ABC TV, Ten, ABC TV
Morgan Ogg Ted Pickering (NSW Lib), Telegraph, Seven.
Jim O’Rourke Telegraph, Jocelyn Newman, Sun Herald.
Nick Papps Adelaide Advertiser, John Olsen (SA Premier), Herald Sun.
Christopher Pearson Adelaide Review, John Howard, Australian Financial Review.
Alan Ramsey SMH, Bill Hayden, SMH.
Stephen Romei Daily Telegraph, two NSW Liberal Ministers, The Australian.
Tim Rumble Kerry Chikarovski, Sun Herald.
Mark Scott Terry Metherell (NSW Lib), Deputy Editor Sydney Morning Herald.
Dennis Shanahan NSW Liberal, Australian.
Paul Syvret Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review, David Hamill (Qld Labor), Bulletin.
Gary Tippett Melbourne Sun, John Cain, Joan Kirner, Sunday Age, Age.
Paola Totaro Sydney Morning Herald, Bob Carr, Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald.
David Turnbull Channel 10, John Hewson, Nine.
Andrew West Jeanette McHugh (Fed ALP), Sun Herald.
David Wilson Australian, Jeff Kennett, Sunday Herald Sun.

Peter Fray

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