Dear constituent,

As your federal Labor MP for the seat of Colston, I’ve been representing you in the House of Representatives for a number of years now. What changes we’ve seen, hey? In the early 2000s, it seemed like the world was riding a boom that would never end. Then came the crash, and Australia was lucky enough to avoid that. And the world changed. People are starting to rise up over the growing inequality and lack of opportunity. Racism and sexism are under attack as never before. We’re all conscious of climate change, the threat to the biosphere, and the major changes we need to make to how we live. Across the world, people are rebelling against old political structures, parties, and the way we’re doing things.

That is why we are campaigning for four-year, fixed-term parliaments in Australia.

Like many people, we’ve noticed that there’s a great separation between the rulers and the ruled in this country. Unlike many of the ruled, we’ve concluded that that separation is not quite enough. We’ve got compulsory voting, exhaustive preferences, matched public funding, and no laws on foreign or collective donations. We’ve got some useful idio– some concerned citizens campaigning for full public funding for political parties. Which would be great. Then we wouldn’t have to consult people at all.

Despite all that, there are dangers. Elections are now so close, and the major parties so loathed, that the prospect of small parties and independents breaking through the layers of anti-democratic privilege are great. That creates a situation where Parliament might become responsive to public attitudes, and governments rise or fall on it.

So we’re hoping to remove this loophole in an otherwise perfect system by adopting fixed-term parliaments. Thus, if a government falls, there will then be a period in which a new government can be sought by a series of deals between MPs, rather than an actual b-r-r-r-r-r election.

We also want to extend the term of Parliament from three to four years. That’s for efficiency. The efficiency of getting to 12 years on the benches, at which point the sweet, sweet super kicks in. Four elections is a bit of a long shot for some of the MPs in less-than-rock-solid seats; three elections makes access to that sweet, sweet super open for a much wider selection of MPs. That’s only fair. And fairness is what the Australian Labor Party is all about!

We’re confident that we can swing this move to make the political system more separated and autonomous from public life, and that we can present it as a move against politics on the grounds that Australians are “sick of politicians politicking, and just want them to do their job and get things done”.

Sure, we could throw things open for discussion, have a constitutional convention, or series of them, talk about the whole federal system, compulsory voting, voting systems, funding, disclosure, lobbying, qualifications and the works. But that’s not the ALP way. We are not an airy-fairy bunch like the Greens. We are a machine for getting things done. Things like turning the direct-debit union fees of retail workers we shaft into the fuel that elevates someone like Anna Bligh all the way into the Australian Bankers’ Association.

Sure, this could backfire, even if we get it through. Some may say it is not only more featherbedding, but the sort of brain-dead pseudo “anti-politics” stunt that a bunch of half-rate cronies would be wont to come up with in some ill-named “brainstorm” session. Some might say we’re missing a chance to focus our current leading position on questions of equality, opportunity and the environment. We have a secret weapon in regards to this. And that secret weapon is: we don’t give a shit. Sure, we might miss out on government because of it. But damn it, if you’re a social justice party there are more important things than winning government at any cost! There is, above all, the 12 years, and that sweet, sweet super, that will carry us on through the decades to come, as the board seats and consultancies come and go.

Forget the neoliberal brutarians! The ALP has always been a party of solidarity! The ALP has always been about advancing the proposition that people should be able to live securely at each stage of their life! And what ties those principles together better than ALP MPs getting lifetime super, fixed-term parliaments, exhaustive preferential voting to exclude challengers, and block payments to unions from corporations to fund the smooth passage from student politics to the good old red ‘n’ green benches? It is, in its simple beauty, well, Keating-esque.

I’m hoping that many Colston constituents will join me in March For Four on June 20 next year, which will build on the success of celebrations for the usually honoured World Refugee Day, and pre-empt it entirely. We’ll begin at Ted Theodore High School, and pass Coles and Woolies, whose casual workers will be joining us in a voluntary unpaid capacity in the lunch hours they don’t get. Colston Labor LGBTQI will be marching behind their proud rainbow banner: “Marriage equality is a right at the time of this banner being made, but not precluding a rethink in the interim period prior to this march”. It’s a bloody big one, and it sometimes sags ironically, so we need a big turnout, especially as the Asylum Seekers for Labor contingent has dwindled — though they still give us a call sometimes, when they get their hands on a Niugini Telecom phone card. Remember the March For Four is about a lot more than fixed four-year terms for lower house MPs. It’s about eight year terms for Senators, as well.

That’s synergy. That’s joined-up thinking. That’s the Colston Labor way.


Andrew-David Latheson

Federal MP for Colston

For more information or issues arising from this letter contact:

  • Media: David-Andrew Fergutham, 04xx xxx xxxx
  • Community Outreach: Stephanie Girlfriend: 04xx xxx xxxx
  • Your State Labor MP for the seat of Fitzwick, within Colston, is: Jenny Taramasalata 04xx xxx xxxx
  • BeyondBlue: 1 300 224 636

*As discovered by Guy Rundle

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