This article was originally published on March 26, 2015.
Right up until the day he died, Malcolm Fraser was working seriously on starting a new political party, to be called Renew Australia. And Crikey can exclusively reveal its aims and manifesto.
According to a draft “Statement of Values and Purpose” from January this year, published for the first time today, the party was to focus on social justice, “modern, progressive democracy” and ethical politics. The statement promotes the party as “a new party for a new vision for Australia” and says that Australia needs a new political party because the major parties are united “in advocating policies ever more corrosive of our national spirit of our national spirit of fairness and justice”.
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A source close to the group says that it is to be based around “genuine liberal values”. The party aims to have a broad base, with the document covering values and visions across 18 different areas. Crikey can reveal that figures who have been involved in the planning of the party have talked about the future of the party since his death, and still intend to launch the party as set out.
At the time of Fraser’s death, the next step for the party was to procure funding, for which members are approaching prominent Australians for capital to start the project.
Fraser had been working actively on the party for more than four years, drawing on his wide circle of contacts to formulate policies and plan the party’s structure and strategies. Crikey understands that alongside his books, the party was his greatest passion in recent years, and he hosted many planning meetings with a range of experts at his office suite on level 32 of the prestigious 101 Collins Street tower in Melbourne.
The party name hasn’t been registered with the Australian Electoral Commission, and the name is already used by a social enterprise group that works with communities to revitalise unused shops and office spaces for new uses.
Crikey has been told by several sources that Fraser was adamant that he didn’t want to be the new party’s leader or mouthpiece. He often talked about the need to find young candidates who would attract young voters. An avid tweeter, he understood the importance of social media. We’ve been told the party hopes to field candidates at next year’s federal election and that its focus is federal, rather than state, politics.
It was important to Fraser that the party appealed to young people, and he emphasised the importance of fielding younger candidates — people below the age of 45. The document sets the party apart from the major political parties, saying: “The new party wants to put an end to politics as usual in Australia” and “We want the party to be a voice for renewal — to offer clear leadership, to articulate an enlarging vision for the country and to bring forth innovative, enlightened and compassionate policies to establish a national unity of purpose”.
The 10-page document focuses on a range of issues under subheadings including modern progressive democracy, social justice, ethical politics, the status of women, human rights, asylum seekers and a post-carbon future. As has been reported, the party’s defence and foreign policy emphasises the need for Australia to be strategically independent from the United States, a topic Fraser covered in his book Dangerous Allies last year.
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