☼ ECOFASCISTS AND COUNTRY MATTERS ☼
If Metropolitan Australia rides the sheep’s back, it makes sense that said sheep would want to chuck it off, chew on its ear a bit then gallop off bleating into the sunset. Country Australia has been a major force in politics for a century. The Nationals are still the main recipient of regional votes, but in recent years they’ve become, in technical terms, the Liberal Party’s bitch. Under the leadership of Warren Truss – a man with the charisma of three-day-old Wonderwhite – the “rural rump” of the Coalition have become increasingly indistinguishable from their partner and have actually merged in Queensland. The Nats seem to be sustained only by meat raffles and the billions of tonnes of burning hydrogen that make up Barnaby Joyce’s head. Given the Oakeshott and Windsor’s centre stage role in the last hung parliament, rural Australia is now clambering to be heard, and they’re lead by a man with ratdrawn shoes and and ol’ Stetson hat who’s voice has been breaking since 1957.
As Katter’s paradoxical brand of Bjelkemandering agrarian socialism has got a lot of media attention, I’ll be focusing on the more raggedy overalled farmhands lurking on the porch of Democracy Ranch. Because as laconic as they may be, this rural brood have been spurred into action by a new and deadly foe. Grandpa Nats is no longer the third biggest party in town, and at the risk of torturing an already tortuous metaphor, the colt from old regret has got away and its enacting sweeping environmental reform. Country and Green groups mostly have a hate-hate relationship, and though often locked in a death struggle over fate of the land, in some areas they’ve been surprising allies.
THE SHOOTERS AND FISHERS
The Shooters and Fishers Party has four policy pillars:
1) You can pry our guns from our cold, dead hands.
2) You can pry our commercial fishery zones from our cold, dead hands.
3) You can pry the constitutionally designated legislative rights of states vis-à-vis protection from Commonwealth veto on environmental grounds from our cold, dead hands.
4) City-slicking senators should be less uppity.
Mostly the guns though. A conservative party focused on recreational hunting, the Shooters and Fishers have long been at war with environmental groups over what they see as oppressive legislation enacted in the name of a “left leaning social reconstructive agenda”. Not an actual war, mind you – if it was, I suspect the greenies would lose. S&F believe that law-abiding firearm owners have been unfairly punished just because of a few mass-murdering bad apples, and that present restrictions are far too tough. Although many see the Shooters and Fishers as a fringe party who only attract the sort of people who watch ute-themed hand-held camera television on 7Mate in the wee hours of the morning, they have no fewer than three members in the NSW upper house. They’ve used their balance of power to negotiate a deal with Barry Farrell to allow the recreational culling of feral animals in NSW’s national parks.
THE AUSTRALIAN FISHING AND LIFESTYLE PARTY
The Shooters and Fishers’ less trigger-happy little cousin is running on the catchy slogan “Don’t Vote For the Fun Police”. This makes sense, as the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party are experts on fun – just look at how much WordArt they use.
It would be unfair to say that the AFLP has over-polished their online content for this election. To quote the “About Us” section of their official website: “This is a text widget. Put your own widget by going to appeareance widget area. Nullam posuere felis a lacus tempor eget dignissim arcu adipiscing.” But other than compulsory loren ipsum classes in schools, their policies are are focused around recreational and commercial fishing and a broad backyard libertarian platform. The AFLP are opposed to a number of proposed and existing pieces of environmental legislation, but don’t deny Climate Change or seem to be as vitriolically anti-green as certain other parties.
THE NO CARBON TAX CLIMATE SKEPTICS PARTY
As is hinted in their subtle and pithy name, this party doesn’t believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming. In 2010 they paid $100,000 to fund an Australian speaking tour of deranged aristocrat Lord Monckton, who reasonably believes that the incontrovertible evidence of man-made climate change is a socialist plot to create a “Global Eco-Fascist Gulag” One World Government. Unlike 98% of climate scientists and every reputable scientific organisation in the world, the NCTCSP knows that irreparably changing the make-up of our atmosphere will have no effect on the planet, because “CO2 is plant food and the more there is in the air, the more food we can grow.” So really we should be increasing Carbon emissions so we can grow more strawberries, not kowtowing to Al Gore and his Illuminati chums. Their policies are everything you’d expect, but the promo video on their website is hilarious, and completely destroys the AFLP in the vital WordArt metric.
Another anti-green rural party with a conservative agenda, they’re basically the Victorian equivalent of the Hunters and Fishers. Their focus is for better services in non-metropolitan areas, and like Bob Katter, are concerned about the Supermarket duopoly. They have an interesting grab bag of policies that range from restrictions on poker machines to legislation against forestry protesters. Did a surprising preference deal with Labor in 2010, but have turned against them after being shunned in favour of the Greens.
One issue where greenies and rednecks are united in an uneasy brownish alliance is that of unconvential gas extraction, or fracking. Corporations have been eager to plunder the natural gas that lies under Australia’s farmland, despite evidence that such a practice pollutes the surrounding water supply (in order to make fracking easier in the US, George Bush selectively suspended the Safe Drinking Water Act.) This has already underway in QLD and NSW, and threatens to begin in the Gippsland region of Victoria, despite the opposition of farmers and environmentalists. Stop Coal Seam Gas are a newish party who want to provide pressure on this issue, but have received some flack on the left for preferencing Family First and for allegedly not being answerable to the grassroots of the movement they represent. Fracking hell.
ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY
The tofu-munching nemeses of several of the above parties, the AJP are deeply opposed to live stock trade, factory farming, animal testing, jumps racing and hunting. Drawing from a long history of animal activism, they believe that as many critters are sentient beings capable of suffering, have rights that should be protected in legislation. One controversial issue for the AJP is their blanket opposition to culling, even in the case of feral or overpopulated beasties. This has led to some raunchy greenie-on-greenie conflict, and in the ACT the Animal Justice Party have actually preferenced the Greens last because they “signed off on the murder of up to 1600 kangaroos”. Labor got a much higher preference, presumably because of the AJP’s affection for endangered species.