October 2014

Third Wheeling

By |Thursday, October 23, 2014|

Words by Duncan Willis
Illustration by Jennifer Crow

In Graeme Green’s Magnum Opus The Quiet American, American CIA agent Alden Pyle argues that the way to protect democracy in 1950s Vietnam is to fund a “third force” who will overcome both communists and colonialists to be Vietnam’s saviour. The idea of a third option is one that is becoming commonplace in world democracies.

In the polls leading up to the recent Indian elections, the Aam Aadami Party (AAP) sought to present a transparent alternative to the dominant parties, showing a fresh face in the Indian political scene, different to the Hindu fundamentalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the corruption riddled Congress party. In Australian politics we have our own third force, bigger than most, of Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party. But for some reason Clive’s policies haven’t seemed to have taken hold in Victoria, quite possibly because we’ve always preferred watching birds over watching dinosaurs. Instead we’ve got the Greens, who in all honesty are probably better for everybody than the Clive Juggernaut.

In our Westminster system, third parties are rarely seen in the Lower House and when they are, they’re usually—bar the 2010 election—not important. When they do get elected they generally find themselves squeezed by the two major parties who don’t need the help of the cross benchers to pursue their agenda. However, this all changes in the Upper house, with our unique voting system permitting a swathe of minor parties into the house. The current Senate constitutes some parties which have been on the minor party scene for a while (Greens and Family First) and others which fall into the “there’s a party for that?” category, like the Motoring Enthusiast Party.

With [...]

July 2014

REVIEW: Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’

By |Monday, July 28, 2014|

Words by Danielle Croci

Hillary Clinton’s latest book, Hard Choices, was released in June, to much curiosity. Would Clinton reveal any secrets in her political memoir? Would she announce her second effort for the presidency?

The 596 pages are divided into chapters organised around countries and events, reflecting the 112 countries that Clinton visited during her term as Secretary of State from 2008 to 2012. One chapter focuses on the Benghazi incident in 2012, expressing Clinton’s remorse for the deaths of two US diplomats along with members of the CIA. Another goes behind the scenes of the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011. Clinton admits, for the first time, that her 2002 Senate vote to authorise military action in Iraq was a “mistake”. Although some chapters are a little dry, they are certainly an interesting political read.

The recent headlines in the Australian media about Clinton’s comments on sexism are quite loud for an excerpt so small. In Hard Choices, she briefly mentions Julia Gillard as an example of female politicians experiencing double standards. The rest of the book is sprinkled with a few of Clinton’s personal experiences of prejudice, as well as her hopes for the improvement of the position of women.

While the book does focus on the more serious side of Clinton’s political role, there are a few lighter anecdotes thrown in for good measure. Clinton describes how she and President Obama pushed past Chinese security guards and barged into a private meeting at a climate conference in Copenhagen. She once met with the uncharacteristically anxious Prime Minister of Bulgaria, discovering that he’d been briefed that her hair pulled back meant that she was in a bad mood. And one tense exchange with Vladimir [...]

May 2014

Students divided over Mirabella protest

By |Monday, May 19, 2014|

Words and photos by Mikaela Davis
Tweets and videos by Kate Lawrence

Students of a first year politics class were left frustrated after a protest against Sophie Mirabella led by the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) organisation interrupted their lecture.

As a newly appointed part-time Public Policy Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Ms Mirabella was invited to speak to the first-year cohort, but was unable to begin.

After 25 minutes, Ms Mirabella was escorted out of the lecture theatre by police when the members of SAlt swarmed around her and it was looking like it could become violent.

Although entertained, the politics students were annoyed by the disruption that the protest had caused.

“It was a potentially valuable learning experience that was tarnished by protesters who weren’t even members of our class,” front-row student Shari Lohardjo told Farrago.

“This was definitely the wrong time and place for something like this to happen… it cost us students our time, not to mention the fact that we all paid to attend this class”.

Many of the students recognised that in a democracy everyone is entitled to freedom of speech and that SAlt had the right to protest.

“I’m fine with Socialist Alternative protesting with their megaphones to and from lectures they disagree with,” Xavier Boffa—another student from that lecture—said. “That said, harassing and assaulting staff and students is not an expression of free speech, and has no place in our society”.

The protest was mostly about the 2014-2015 budget cuts in the lead up to SAlt’s rally ‘Emergency Rally Against Cuts and Fee Hikes’.

“As you can both see and hear in the video, members of Socialist Alternative were both physically and verbally assaulted by students in the class who support the Liberal Party and their ruling class agenda,” [...]