John Singleton, “Don’s party is a fancy-dress affair that’s just a bit more trendy,” The Australian, June 6, 1977, p. 6, in the “Forum” box.
I’ll say this much for Don Chipp: for a man without an original idea in his head, he is certainly proving one thing — Australia is so fed up with the Fraser-Whitlam charade they’ll listen to anyone.
Even Don Chipp.
Now he’s probably quite a well-meaning little man and he dresses well, and he looks like a plastic replica of a concerned citizen.
In fact, he is probably the sort of man Central Casting would send if you wanted to cast a crusading-style, Australian-style politician.
But the odds are the actor would have a better idea of what he was on about.
For a start, Chipp’s new party doesn’t have any principles at all, except those which “will be decided by a vote of all members of the party.” This sounds OK. Until you think about it.
Because Chipp talks about principles and integrity, but the very first thing he does is decide policies by popularity instead of principle.
He doesn’t realise that numbers have absolutely nothing to do with truth.
In other words, there is no way his party can finish up with anything else except the same grab-bag of policies as the Lib-Lab parties.
The only difference is it will be a bit more trendy, for about five minutes, and every Renault 16 you see driving around with a “Don’t Mine Myall Lakes” sticker on the window will be an odds-on Australian Democrat supporter.
But, unlike Chipp, I will now be specific about what is so pathetically misguided about both his party and its well-intended adherents.
1. He says his new party will be for “private” enterprise. There is a massive distinction between “private” and “free” enterprise.
Private is the kind of Australian business we have here now: you are allowed to pretend you own your business, but the Government makes all the rules and takes most of the profit, if any.
“Free” enterprise, on the other hand, means getting on with it, and the Government getting right out of the way and just letting it happen.
2. Chipp doesn’t believe that “the workforce should be the only ones to suffer” when things are rotten, like now. But he doesn’t say, naturally, what the hell he means.
Is he going to help the workforce by hammering business still further so that the workforce ultimately suffers even more?
3. He says he “especially wants to help small and medium-size business.”
Does this mean subsidies, tariffs, grants and other legislation to help them instead of big business? Or just as well as? Where will the money come from?
4. He says he wants “consultation” with the unions rather than “confrontation.”
Can you imagine Chipp in consultation with Halfpenny, Carmichael and Hawke?
Chipp even says Hawke is the man he’d vote for as President of Australia if there was such a vote. Although he says Hawke “would probably want to nationalise more business than I would.”
And remember this man Chipp has been in the Liberal Party in Canberra for past 17 years and even in the ministry. No wonder the Libs are so totally confused.
5. And Chipp says the thing he is most against is the “handout mentality of social welfare.” In the very same article he says that he is proudest of his work on the Liberals’ “progressive” welfare policies.
And the same man who says, and maybe really thinks, he is against the handout mentality goes on to list just a few things he believes ought to get handed out to all and sundry.
Remember, these are just some: “nutrition, shelter, health, social security, education, cultural needs, personal development, personal security, leisure and recreation.”
Just a few little things like that.
The rest evidently Don Chipp thinks we can handle ourselves. But what’s left? I can’t think of anything.
In fact, the Don Chipp philosophy is best summarised by one unforgettable sentence in his welfare document: “Maximise the alternative forms in which a user might receive a service, and the alternative sources of supply.”
In other words, Don Chipp’s whole philosophy is somewhere between meaningless and bankrupt.
And to cap it all off, Don Chipp is also against uranium mining, which is the only future energy source known to man and which is already creating clean power in every major country in the world.
Again, for no other reason, I suppose, than a majority vote of his members who would have a likely combined knowledge on the subject of zero. So there we are.
In a country where the Liberal and Labor and National Country parties all tread right down the middle of the road comes yet another middle-of-the-road party.
Just what we always needed.
The best thing we can hope for is that with all the parties in the middle of the road one day, they might all have a head-on collision and with any luck there may be no survivors.
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