What is to be done? – with unChain’s preferences?

I am a long-time Labor voter and a former member of CAPP and the ALP. However I am ashamed of the tactics that some of their operatives think are acceptable.

I love history. The Greek author Polybius (writing in Latin) said: ‘At Carthage nothing which results in profit is regarded as disgraceful’. I fear he would say the same about the CAPP/Labor apparatchiks’ attitude to getting votes.

In the 2008 election campaign CAPP/Labor agreed to work with unChain and the Greens to get a better Council including a better development on the Triangle. However some of our CAPP/Labor ‘friends’:

  • Stole our banners and hijacked our web-presence
  • Threatened our supporters who had displayed banners
  • Intimidated our supporters into withdrawing endorsements or other support
  • Falsely claimed we spent up to $500,000 on the poll (truth about $70,000)
  • Falsely claimed that unChain was funded by a developer
  • Falsely claimed that unChain was a single issue group
  • Falsely claimed we had connections to the Liberal party
  • Distributed a green triangle How to Vote card that misled voters into thinking it was the Greens’ How to Vote card.

With ‘friends’ like these who needs politics?

In the 2010 State elections, unChain’s Serge Thomann ran as an Independent in order to get issues like the Triangle onto the state government’s agenda. In this he was successful.

But he was again subjected to a concentrated ‘dirty tricks’ campaign by Labor apparatchiks. This included:
False claims that he was a ‘climate change denier’
A leaflet that claimed that Serge was making ‘this stuff up’ and had a record of ‘misleading the community’. This was in reference to the ‘Sheik’s tower’ in Port Melbourne. History has shown that Serge was absolutely correct in disclosing and opposing the proposal for a 28 storey tower next to the Port Melbourne rail terminus.

The worst feature of the 2010 campaign were four anonymous Google ads. We do not know whether these were placed by a CAPP/Labor apparatchik. The anonymous ads were clearly illegal and defamatory. They falsely purported to come from the Greens and made false claims and assertions that:

  • ‘Waterfront Planning myths… Serge is lying to get elected’
  • ‘Who is Serge Thomann. Celebrity obsessed paparazzo? Or something far more sinister?’
  • ‘Albert Park voter? Do you really know Serge Thomann? Say NO to this Liberal deception’
  • ‘Don’t trust sleazy Serge’

I hope that the 2012 Council elections will see the end of this sort of nonsense and that candidates will campaign on the issues rather than ‘dirty tricks’. I think that unChain should take into account any ‘dirty tricks’ that are played in the campaign and allocate our preferences accordingly.

I share the values of many people in the Greens, Labor and CAPP. I am sure that there are many people in those groups who also deplore the attitude that anything is justified to win power. As one of the ‘white hats’ in the ALP, Lindsay Tanner says:

Historically, Labor has been a fluid amalgam of ideals and interests… Both have long since been swamped by careerism. Too many leading figures in the party are now so unfamiliar with the idea of the public interest that they don’t even bother to ask themselves where it lies’.

One answer that many Labor people have is to try to reform the party from within. Another answer is to leave the party and join the Greens. But another answer is for people like me to leave the party and work in community groups like unChain. One thing is clear – we ‘reformers’ inside and outside Labor have a clear idea of the ‘public interest’ and the careerists in the Labor party cannot expect to have our support if they continue to model their behaviour on Machiavelli.

~ Peter Holland
President, unChain Inc

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