Why Back Me For The Senate?

The Coalition only need to gain two Senate seats at the next election to form an outright Senate majority and Queensland will be one of their key targets.

I strongly believe no Australian government should ever be given a Senate majority. Unrestrained government power inevitably leads to corruption and authoritarian rot. The last time the government had a Senate majority, they pushed through brutal laws to try crush workers and the trade union movement. At a time when 1.2 million Australian kids live in poverty, I’m not keen on rigging the playing field against ordinary workers even further.

So we desperately need to deny the government a Senate majority. Who can we trust to stand up to powerful vested interests in the Senate? For a start, we’ve got to immediately discount the Three Musketeers - Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer and Campbell Newman. They claim to be populists on the side of the left behind, they claim to stand with the people against the elite. But over their decades in politics they have become the establishment personified. Why did Campbell Newman’s brother in law receive a five million dollar payment from a Chinese property developer after Newman met with Xi Jinping? Why did the Palmer United Party Senate leader Dio Wang praise the Tiananmen Square Massacre? Why did Palmer fight tooth and nail for years in the courts to avoid paying his sacked workers what they were owed? Why did Pauline Hanson vote with the Liberals and their labour hire company donors to rob tens of thousands of coal miners of the back pay they were rightfully owed? Palmer, Hanson and Newman are not on your side. They have each been involved in politics for decades and regional communities are still dying, national assets are still being sold off, wages are still stagnant while our living standards decline. Wouldn’t they have stood up for vulnerable and left behind Australians by now if they actually cared? Hanson has ten investment properties, a pretty decent haul on a politician’s salary. Where does the money come from?

So don’t back these fake populists who say they will stick up for you while they vote with the establishment to protect the failing status quo. We need genuine outsiders, people outside the political system. And I have to tell you Labor and the Greens do not offer that. I have experience with both parties and found both experiences soul-crushing.  I joined Labor when I was 18. I was a bright eyed youth, so enthusiastic and hopeful that through Labor I could help fight for a fairer society. Then I encountered the party machine, the faceless men, the soulless hacks who control the levers of power within the party and preside over its increasingly hollowed out and decrepit shell. I remember going out on my own to protest against the Chinese government because I couldn’t find anyone in the party who really cared much about Uyghurs or Hong Kongers or Tibetans. What happened next? Young Labor hacks promised to inform on my “racist” activities to the party hierarchy and have me expelled. That was the moment I tore up my membership. I always say that I didn’t leave the Labor Party, the Labor Party left me. I still believe in fighting for a fairer society, I still believe that the trade unions need to be strengthened so as to reverse the massive increases in poverty and inequality we have seen in recent decades. But I experienced first hand how the Labor Party machine is geared against real change. Just look at how they voted with the Liberals in Parliament to try break up the CFMEU and pave the way for more union de-amalgamations, or how they recently teamed up with the Liberals to pass draconian security legislation to allow the government to spy on us. They’ve lost their way and it’s heartbreaking to see.

I thought the Greens would be better so joined them for a few months, only to find the internal culture reminded me so much of the machine I had just rejected. Too many members of the Greens looked down upon people like my parents, people who never went to university. Obviously, I’ve studied at UQ, so I am not pretending to be some rugged bloke from out bush. But all my time fighting the university opened my eyes to how unrepresentative the university bubble really is. We shouldn’t look down on working Australians for having more traditional family views or being religious or patriotic. Decades of free market fundamentalism and neoliberalism have smashed working class communities and destroyed regional towns. Communities have been atomized and people cut off from one another. We see record rates of loneliness in our society, elderly people dying lonely deaths, teenage suicide rates spiking. People are desperate for shared symbols of belonging, for ties that bind them to other people and say they aren’t alone and that their lives actually matter. For many, they find this shared meaning and sense of belonging in a patriotic love of Australia. It’s one of the last shared forms of connection we have left after decades of neoliberalism hollowing out the trade union movement and shattering churches and local community organizations. And sadly some on the far-left have nothing but dripping disdain for this, they burn the flag, make out that Australia is uniquely racist and evil and should be “abolished.”

Both major parties participated in the remarkably destructive neoliberal consensus, with the Labor Party leading the way under Hawke and Keating, the Liberals going much further under Howard. Working Australians have suffered as a result. People are angry and fed up seeing their towns die and their communities ripped apart by crime, suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction - all manifestations of a profound sense of social despair and hopelessness. They know this system is failing, they know it’s been presided over by technocratic elites from both sides of the aisle who smugly proclaim that there is no alternative. Then they are met with radicals on the far left who proudly proclaim their hatred for Australia and their contempt for whatever forms of belonging these communities have left. Faced with a “democratic” choice like this, between a technocratic establishment that impoverishes the many in the name of enriching the few and an alienating identity politics obsessed left that reinforces neoliberalism by insisting on the erasure of the few remaining social bonds and ties people have left, its little wonder these marginalized and unheard voters choose to elect the Trump’s of the world as a massive “Fuck You” to the political establishment. I don’t agree with it but I understand it. The establishment media portrays these voters as suckers “voting against their own interests,” but often enough these voters are well aware that these Trump like figures are swindlers themselves, snake oil salesmen dedicated to lining their own pockets. But when the “sensible alternatives” are themselves lining their own pockets or simply just utterly contemptuous of you and your values, the “Fuck You” vote becomes a rational calculation. It’s what happens when you ignore communities for decades while actively crushing them economically. This is why I believe working class voters have been increasingly abandoning Labor while refusing to vote for the Greens. This is why I believe neoliberalism and the social despair it generates represents an utterly dire threat to the long term health of our democracies.  

So amidst these terrible conditions, what are we to do in order to fight for a fairer society and a reinvigorated social contract? What are we to do to protect our democracy and ward off the rise of those mobsters and fascist thugs who would exploit this carnage for their own diabolical ends? If Pauline, Palmer and Newman are part of the establishment and Labor and the Greens won’t deliver change to improve the condition of workers and lift millions of Australians out of poverty, where do we go? I would strongly encourage voters to go independent. That’s definitely the way I’m heading.

At the next election, I hope to present an independent populist option to the Australian people as an outsider who will not punch down on the vulnerable but instead always fight on the side of the underdog and the battler. People will say I am too young to stand for election, but we desperately need change right now and I want to try my best to fight for it. If only so that I can know in my heart that I put my hat in the ring and put my money where my mouth is. I am more than happy to compare my record with anyone in Parliament.  I donated my entire income last year to Uyghur orphans and raised tens of thousands for impoverished students all while my family copped death threats from Chinese nationalists and UQ brought in Australia’s top law firms to expel me. I was attacked by everyone from the far left to the far right, smeared in the media, subjected to intense pressure. UQ threatened me with lawsuits that would bankrupt me and a contempt of court charge that could have carried a 3 year prison sentence. The Chinese Foreign Ministry attacked me and the Brisbane Chinese Consulate endorsed violence against me. This is what I faced as a 21 year old and I got through it. Powerful people tried to crush me like an ant but I withstood it all and never broke. Australians know I am a fighter. I have already demonstrated that I am willing to risk absolutely everything to stand up for what is right. These people can’t bully me or buy me off. I don’t have investment properties, I don’t have a stock portfolio, I’m a young person with nothing to my name but a dream for a better world. In the Senate I will be your independent fighter. I will stand up to the government on behalf of workers. I will vote against both major parties when they try to split up trade unions, I will vote to raise the unemployment rate above the poverty line, I will vote against the privatization of our national assets. I will fight every single day for a return to a fairer system and a more egalitarian society founded on mateship. A society where no Australian is ever left behind. We can have a better country and a better world free of poverty and genocide and social misery if only we simply demand it as our God given right as human beings.

If you’re with me, join me here: drewpavlou.com/join