Grassroots 3

SEPTEMBER 2020


From the Editor

 

Welcome to Grassroots Edition 3!

From all at the Grassroots Team – thank you to our readers for your very positive and encouraging feedback! Grassroots is certainly meeting a need. 

The Grassroots Charter is to provide member voice, particularly during COVID-19 restrictions. 

A very warm welcome to all new subscribers to Grassroots! Our distribution list is growing steadily. 

Thank you to the large number of Grassroots readers who have been emailing our newsletter on to members, family and friends. Your assistance is widening the reach of Grassroots enormously and is very much appreciated. 

Grassroots continues to receive a steady stream of articles and letters to the editor. In keeping with the concept of a short and easy to read newsletter, and supported by reader feedback requesting brevity, we are unable to publish all of the material received. We apologise for this and will hold contributions over awaiting possible space in a later edition. Articles should not exceed 300 words. 

All letters to the editor should be submitted with the name of the writer and it is preferred that published letters carry the author’s name; however, letters may be published without the author’s name on request. In this instance, the notation “Name of author withheld” will be used. Short letters preferred. 

Please submit articles and letters in plain text email or as a WORD document to: [email protected] 

Freedom of speech is a fundamental touchstone of the Liberal Party. The genesis of Grassroots was the need to provide for member voice, particularly during COVID-19 restrictions, and specifically during a period when all normal Party meetings have been suspended. 

Democracy is also a fundamental touchstone of the Liberal Party. The continuing inability of the Victorian Division to conduct the 2020 Annual State Council and Annual Meeting, due on May 23-24, is the source of much disappointment and frustration for Members. Cr Cynthia Watson has contributed a very useful article on Official Meetings by Zoom and Governance Standards in this edition of Grassroots. It is to be hoped that the Administrative Committee is true to its word regarding its often-stated commitment to trying to find a means to conduct State Council and the AGM as soon as possible. 

– Editor

Location, Location? Location!

by Craig Ondarchie MLC
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region

Daniel Andrews ludicrous decision to place a Drug Injecting Room metres from a Primary School, in a high-density public housing towers residential estate and populous suburb of Richmond spelt monumental stuff up from the start. 

This centre, in the inner-city locale of North Richmond, has local families, residents, small businesses, shop traders and investors up in arms. This location has become the centre of Melbourne’s drug culture with dealers coming from all over Melbourne to North Richmond to hang around in nearby streets and laneways plying their illegal trade. Many businesses in the once-thriving area of Victoria Street are now closed, families are afraid to go outside and children are witnessing horrific scenes that should never have been forced upon them. 

Local families will tell you that drug users are spitting, vomiting, defecating and injecting in local streets at all hours and are failing to wear masks or abide by any social distancing measures. Syringes have also been left discarded in the streets as the rest of Melbourne remains in stage four lockdown. 

This honeypot remains open well past Melbourne’s 8 p.m. curfew as drug users flock to the area for their fix, not attending the drug room itself. It seems Dan’s injecting room has a different set of rules to the rest of Victoria. If we are not allowed to travel more than 5km from our homes except for one of the four key reasons, then those gathering in the surrounding streets of Richmond getting fixes from dealers are all breaking the law. 

Locals have had enough of Dan Andrews. So have I.

Takes a Nation to Secure a Nation


by Senator Jim Molan AO DSC
Senator for NSW

I was unbelievably impressed and relieved by the recent announcement on the Coalition Government’s Strategic Update (our approach to the world around us and the threats it might pose) and what is called the Force Structure Plan (what the ADF will look like as a result of the strategy and the funds allocated). As a member of the Coalition’s Defence Backbench Committee, I had been briefed but not in the detail that I now know. I have been arguing and advocating for a more realistic approach to national security for twenty years, and writing publicly on the subject since about 2012. I acknowledge the Coalition has credibility on defence given the record of actual achievement of John Howard towards the end of his term, and of the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments delivering the goods in terms of funding real combat capability. Coalition governments looks even better when compared to the defence disaster of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years. 

Until I heard the Defence Minister and the Prime Minister speak on the subject, I admit I was a little sceptical, but I am not now. 

Senator Linda Reynolds has done a superb job in bringing this strategy together and focussing her department and others on the output. The PM and members of the Expenditure Review Committee and the National Security Committee have also delivered the goods in a way I have not seen since I began watching Defence White Papers in 1976. 

As an explanation to many who are not close to the subject, what the government has done is bring out a strategy which realistically reacts to the changing strategic situation in our regions, a situation which presents more challenges to Australia then at anytime sine 1945, and which is reminiscent in many ways of the 1930s. There are two factors which have changed more than any others: the rise of China (and Russia, Iran, North Korea and the continuance of Islamic extremism); and the reduction of US military power since the end of the Cold War (about 1990). 

Australia perhaps did not need to have strategy as we have now adopted during that time, because our great and powerful ally dominated the world. The current strategy recognizes that we must be more self-reliant, that we need to remain as part of a set of regional alliances (particularly with the US), that the likelihood of conflict or war has significantly increased, and that we must be more ready for conventional war than we are at present. 

As a result, we now have a strategy which acknowledges that we in Australia need to be capable of “shaping” our region (that is taking a vast range of actions such as diplomacy, training, support with our neighbours but to our own benefit), we need to be strong enough to “deter” anyone who wants to take aggressive action against us, and if deterrence fails and we are attacked, we need to be able to “respond”, that is to have weapons that can be used to aggressively attack and defeat enemies. 

While at the time of writing, I have not thoroughly read the detail of the update and the plan. On first consideration, I am very impressed indeed. $270 billion allocated for equipment over 10 years is mightily impressive, and that is in addition to operating costs and salaries in defence. Sceptics might argue that these are just figures and proposals and you cannot defend yourself with glossy brochures, but I would say that this government has a record of delivering what it says it will deliver, and our record is there for all to see in converting bropchures into ships, planes, tanks and personnel. 

I have only two mild criticisms. 

The first is that I hope that we have ten years to build up our defences, but I acknowledge that it will take that long to build the new forces and for some ships and the subs, even longer. 

The second criticism that I have should again not be seen to detract from the strategy Update or the forces Plan, but if we think that the ADF needs $270 billion in additional capability over the next ten years, then what does the rest of Australia need? AS the above title says, it takes a Nation to secure a Nation. 

Throughout the rest of the world, what our government produced last week and called a Plan would generally be known as a ‘National Defence Strategy’, with the Update being part of what the world calls a ‘National Security Strategy’. The difference between the two is that national security is achieved by the Nation, not just the ADF. What I and many others have been advocating for many years is that there should be a much more comprehensive National Security Strategy which gives guidance and direction not just to defence, but to every part of the nation that can contribute to national security, for example: economy, finance, governance, society, industry, cyber, health, education, energy, liquid fuel and manpower amongst others, as well as defence. This should be the next step to build on the Update and the Plan, to achieve a standard of self-reliance across the nation which builds resilience in this country so that Australia can maintain our sovereignty. 

The Coalition is renown for its approach to national security, particularly defence, and once again it is this government that has delivered. I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence

Official Meetings by Zoom


by Cr Cynthia Watson
Mayor of Boroondara

How to Conduct Official Meetings on Zoom that meet governance standards for voting:

All organisations must continue to function when faced with extraordinary challenges. States of disaster and states of emergency are not an uncommon occurrence. What is different with COVID-19 is geography. It has a global footprint. The questions which every organisation must answer are, during events which preclude standard procedures being followed, how can we: 

  • function as an organisation? 
  • meet the needs of a membership community? 
  • comply with the objectives and requirements of the instrument of governance (e.g. Constitution, Charter, Act of Parliament)? 

All processes must meet inclusion, integrity and compliance standards. The Liberal Party State Council and AGM is no different. How do we hold a State Council and AGM and meet the three standards while also complying with COVID-19 Stage 4 and Stage 3 directives? 

Inclusion Measures 

  1. Each FEC and SEC Chairman must contact each State Council delegate and ask if they have access to email and a device that will enable them to participate through an on-line platform such as Zoom. 
     
  2. If delegates do not have an email address, internet access or a suitable device, the Chairman may offer assistance or suggest that a proxy with the necessary access be nominated to fulfil the responsibilities of the delegate. 
     
  3. Chairmen to provide a delegate inclusion report to the State Director. 

Integrity Measures 

Members can vote safely through electronic means via email. External providers offer such services and can be engaged for this purpose. Integrity processes designed to ensure security, privacy and validity of voters form the agreement between the external provider and the engaging organisation (Liberal Party). Such an agreement should be disclosed to all delegates so that voting outcomes are supported by the membership. 

Compliance Measures 

  1. The Victorian Division’s Constitution requires delegates to meet face-to-face*. This requirement can be met via on-line registration where the delegate registers over Zoom and identifies themself with photo ID and a Party membership card. 
     
  2. Once registered, the delegates would receive an electronic ballot that comes with a security pin to the nominated email address along with a meeting Zoom link. 
     
  3. For electronic ballots, eligible participants have a set period of time in which to lodge their vote. 
     
  4. The results of the poll are sent by the external provider to the nominated Returning Officer who advises candidates and the membership of the successful candidates (and motions). 
     
  5. Participation in State Council proceedings can be accommodated over an on-line platform for which links are sent to eligible participants and debates conducted in accordance with Standing Orders. 

State Council and AGM would look a little different in an on-line format. With Inclusion, Integrity and Compliance standards clearly able to be met, preparations should commence immediately so that State Council can meet and the AGM can be held, and thus make known its will. The Party members should not be disenfranchised through interpretations of the Victorian Division’s Constitution that are invalid. 


*The face-to-face meeting requirement has been addressed in Local Government by an amendment to the Local Government Act enabling Councillors to meet safely using on-line platforms to enable councils to keep functioning. The Commonwealth also changed the face-to-face requirement from physical to a virtual realm for citizenship ceremonies to a digital platform.

2020 Local Government Elections are on!

by Cr Andrew Bond
City of Port Phillip

After a fortnight of candidates asking ‘will they’ or ‘won’t they’ the State Government this week came out and confirmed that the 2020 Local Government elections will go ahead as planned on October 24th. 

This announcement came as a great relief to those Liberal candidates from all corners of the State who had started planning their election campaign’s many months ago, and more recently had commenced putting their plans into action. 

Since the confirmation of the election date was announced last week, the Future Councillors Facebook page has been a hive of activity with candidates showing off their leaflets and flyers, their billboards and corflutes, and taking in some of the wise advice on offer from experienced Local Government campaigners such as veteran 16-year Councillor Phillip Healey. 

Cr Healey is also the newly appointed chair of the Liberal Party’s Local Government Committee, and the more than 200 Liberal candidates planning to run in October’s elections could not be in better hands. 

Under Cr Healey’s guidance, planned and coordinated Local Government campaigns will be rolled out not just in traditional Liberal areas, but also in some areas considered to be less friendly to Liberals such as the Cities of Yarra, Wyndham, and Hobsons Bay. There will also be for the first time in many years a strong Liberal backed ticket in the City of Melbourne where a group of Liberal Party members will be flying the flag for Liberalism with a well-coordinated campaign in the Capital. 

These Local Government campaigns will be strongly supported by The Letterbox Army under the leadership of Asher Judah. Once stage 4 restrictions are lifted in September, and letterboxing is once more permitted, hundreds of Liberal Party volunteers will hit the pavements in support of our candidates across the State. 

For any Liberal Party member who is still considering running for Local Government there will be one final Future Councillors training session, to be hosted by Cr’s Phillip Healey and Denise Massoud on Thursday the 27th of August. Register by email: [email protected] Feedback on these sessions from participants is that they have been highly valuable and informative, and strongly recommended for those that are thinking of running for Local Government. 

Finally, a small correction to my previous article published in the last edition of Grassroots. Local Government and Councillors did receive one small mention in the Victorian Division’s Strategy Plan 2020 with a commitment from the Party to increase both the number of Local Government candidates, and the number of elected Councillors. I very much look forward to seeing the new ideas from the Party on how this will be achieved, and additional support from the Party to achieve this.

Wealth Generation in Australia


by Rupert Vowles

If politicians have a universal belief, it is that it is necessary for them to spend money. We might, therefore, expect that the generating of wealth (the source of that money) to be uppermost in their minds. However, any discussion of economics in Australia today will almost invariably be confined to taxing and spending. The need to generate wealth before taxing some of it away is studiously ignored by governments at all levels. 

In distinct contrast to countries such as Israel, in Australia wealth generation is treated as a natural phenomenon, like rain falling from the sky. It normally happens without human intervention and, if a bit more water is needed, it is only necessary to build a larger catchment. 

Far from promoting the generation of wealth, we see on an almost daily basis the infliction of rules, regulations and restrictions that compromise it. In 2019, the Institute for Public Affairs estimated the annual cost of Australia of unnecessary regulation to be $176 billion – 10% of GDP! It says a great deal about Australia that the IPA report passed almost without comment. 

The Labor Party is unreconstructed socialist, still harbouring an ambition for the state to generate and control all wealth. To our eternal shame, Liberal politicians are, in many cases, just as benighted. Any suggestion that taxes might be forgone to encourage development of wealth-generating business is met with the inevitable cry that it will adversely impact the revenue. 

The lifeblood of business is capital. The taxing away of capital, from people who will put it to productive use to those who will, more often than not, just waste it, is economic suicide. 

Australians, as a nation, have always been creative and entrepreneurial. Notwithstanding the Hills Hoist, the rotary mower, the aviation ‘black box’ and a relatively small number of other successes of international scale, for many years, our entrepreneurial talent has fled to other countries where it is more appreciated. 

Today, Australia faces a very uncertain future, not only from the ruinous effects of COVID-19, but the very real potential that China, our largest and most consistent customer, will now progressively diversify its sourcing of minerals to teach Australia a lesson. To meet this, a revolution is required to retain, grow and fund Australia’s entrepreneurial class. If governments now simply resort to increased taxation to reduce debt and make-work schemes to deal with unemployment, our future will be a very bleak one. 

It is said that, if you give a man a fish he will eat today, but teach a man to fish and he will eat forever. This is sage advice that should be heeded.

WWII Anniversary


by the Diane Plim

August 15, 2020 marked 75 years since the end of WWII (Victory in the Pacific [VP] Day). Large numbers of commemoration services were held around the country honouring the sacrifices made by our preceding generation. Tributes were paid to all who served and made great sacrifices to keep our nation safe, and those who did not make it home were honoured as “forever heroes” of our nation. We salute you and are indebted for your service.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s stirring speech at the War Memorial, Canberra was greatly moving.

Watch at:  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-16/scott-morrison-speaks-at-wwii-anniversary-at-war/12561950?nw=0

Also, many tributes were paid at the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August; now Vietnam Veterans’ Day. Almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam from 1962 until 1975. 521 lost their lives and more than 3,000 were wounded.  

LEST WE FORGET

Member Feedback


by the Grassroots Team

In this edition of Grassroots, we are calling for feedback from Party Members in the form of short written comments to: [email protected] 

2020 has been and continues to be particularly challenging for Australians, Victorians and the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party as we battle under COVID-19 restrictions. 

The Victorian Division has not been able to, or perhaps willing to, adapt fully to the COVID-19 environment. The Division has virtually shut down all forms of Member engagement save for Zoom “meetings” and even these have been quite restrictive in terms of genuine Member participation. 

“Victorian Liberal Nationals Week in Review” (Fridays), “In-the-Loop” (Sundays), State President’s “Update on Administrative Committee Matters” (Occasional), State President’s occasional circulars, State Assembly Forum by Zoom (2) and other Zoom sessions (occasional) are typically one-way (top-down) and do not suffice for genuine two-way communication, or provide for democratic decision making, which are the lifeblood of any effective organisation. It is little wonder then that Members feel disillusioned, frustrated and even angry with the Victorian Division, and are not confident that our Division is functioning effectively in preparation for the crucial 2022 federal and state elections. 

Your feedback is now sought: 

· How do you think the Victorian Division is travelling? 

· What are the key issues/problems confronting the Victorian Division? 

· What is the biggest issue facing the Victorian Division and why? 

· How could the Division’s operations be improved? 

· Other constructive feedback/comments – positive and negative 

· What are you prepared to do to assist the Victorian Division at this time? 

Note: We have deliberately chosen to seek short written comments from Members, rather than conduct a structured survey, believing that this will elicit more insightful and useful feedback. 

Thank you in advance for your feedback! 

– Grassroots Team

Letters to the Editor

Handing Labor the Election

Dear Editor, 

As a Liberal member, I was dismayed to read in The Australian (that the Victorian Liberal Party President has backed the State Opposition’s “Constructive approach” to Labor’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria. 

If this is the approach that the Opposition is taking, then my view is that you are giving the Labor Government a free pass and they are likely to be re-elected in 2022. If that happens, we are selling up and leaving this State. I have had 2 tradespeople to my home in the last 2 weeks and interestingly both of them said that they were contemplating the same action. 

Not only is Dan Andrews the most incompetent, arrogant and dishonest Premier in Australian history, but he is also one of the most cunning and effective politicians of his time. If the positions were reversed what do you think he would be doing? Taking a “constructive gloves off approach”? Only a deluded fool would think that! 

Unless the Victorian Liberals get in the ring and get tough, a lot of your natural constituency will leave the State over time, and you will be permanently in Opposition. Tony Abbott showed how effective that approach was, and Malcolm Turnbull showed how inept he was politically. 

It’s over to you what future you want for your political careers and this State, I suggest you get some better advice. 

– Member’s name withheld on request.


Victoria – the Police State

Dear Editor, 

Is this what we’ve become? The sight of a girl being arrested for walking down the street without a mask moves me to tears. 

Sure, she was resisting arrest, so would I, and I don’t blame the police. I’m sure they are just as confused and disillusioned as the rest of us. 

10,000 can gather for the BLM rally and no-one is arrested. 

Fast-forward a few months and two guys just planning a march are arrested. And a guy sitting in his car giving his flat-mate some privacy is fined $1,600. 

To paraphrase Martin Niemoller (German Theologian) “First they came for the Communists, but I did not speak out, because I wasn’t a Communist, …then they came for me”. 

This is not an Australia that I will accept. 

This will not stand. 

The Andrews Government must go. 

I would call for a march to Parliament, but I had better not or I too might be arrested. 

– Wayne Alexander


Members Left Voiceless

Dear Editor,

I have been a proud Party member for the better part of 20 years, but in that time I have never seen an Administrative Committee so willing to quash the voice of grassroots party members.

There is a feeling of helplessness among members I know, feeling that without a State Council, our voice will never again be heard in our own Party.

Sir Robert Menzies was a great champion of the ‘forgotten people’ – but now it seems Victoria’s Liberal Party branch members are the forgotten ones.

– Ailsa Howe

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