The vote is in and it hurt.
The polls did not pick up on the impact of Clive Palmer’s astonishing expenditure of between $60 and $80 million dollars on ads attacking the ALP because it happened so late in the campaign. Add this to the tens of millions of dollars spent by the Liberal Party on its disinformation campaigns and there you have it.
Welcome back to Canberra, Mr Morrison, we never really missed you.
Concession speech: I concede nothing
If I have to make a concession speech, then I concede nothing except heartfelt thanks to my wife, family and close friends for their support, thanks to the people who nominated me, thanks to the volunteers who pitched in to hand out how to vote cards, and thanks to the people who voted for me.
If anything, the election result underlines the central concerns of my campaign relating to the corrupting influence of money in politics.
It also shows the system is stacked against independents and minor parties, from the cost of the nomination fee, to systematic media disinterest, to the difficulty of appearing on the ballot box in a position equivalent to candidates from the major parties, and to the need for significant amounts of money to reach a breakthrough point.
This is not about ideas
The corporate media are past masters at pumping out slick, superficial, and misleading political advertisements just as if they were selling any other product, say, vacuum cleaners or weight loss machines.
Combine this with the critical number of Australians who are disengaged from politics and are open to the angry and ridiculous inducements of the billionaires and there you have it.
This campaign and election result has not been about ideas and not even about ideologies. It is about corporate money and who has access to more of it. Whatever else the post election analysis may bring, nothing can get past the effectiveness of spending $100 million dollars on prime time advertising misrepresenting your opponents.
Unless reforms are made to campaign funding rules every future election will be subject to the late emergence of a billionaire who invests $100 million dollars on attack ads that determine the election result.
Welcome to the third world
The lesson of this election is that corporate donors buy election results just as they buy policy outcomes and favoured access to government business opportunities and contracts.
If the issue of campaign and party funding reform is not dealt with we can look forward to the arrival of third world style politics into Australia where the formation of government and the creation of the law are not subject to informed policy debate but are for sale.
As things stand, there are insufficient accountability mechanisms in the system to stop the rorting, waste of public money, and the corruption.
Australia is not immune to corruption. Welcome to the third world, ladies and gentlemen.
The other elephant in the room
The other elephant in the room is the role of the media including the ABC. It is time to call time on the partisan campaigning nature of much of the corporate media in Australia and the agenda taking acquiescence of the ABC. It does not serve this country well to have the levels of concentration of media ownership that it has and for those ownership interests to be so closely aligned with one of the major parties.
Renovation of the political system should be at the forefront of the agenda for all people concerned about Australian democracy and the accountability of our governments. The ALP, despite being funded by the corporations, needs to come on board with this agenda.
The future - Join the DRA
The reason I ran for the Senate was to raise the profile of the integrity and accountability agenda in Australian politics. The campaign was a success, and in starting from a position of zero, great strides have been made.
People did grapple with the ideas and did Vote 1 - Nick Houston - Clean Government, and I appreciate that. It is something to build on. In future I will continue to work hard at promoting the Democratic Reform Alliance as a vehicle for achieving the following reforms:
• Ending tax payer support of political parties;
• Introducing best practice campaign funding reforms;
• Better regulating politician’s entitlements;
• Banning donations from corporations and unions;
• Introducing a tough anti-corruption commission to keep the bastards honest;
• Introducing an Integrity Commission to scrutinize government appointments, contracting, and asset sales; and
• Better regulating lobbyists.
We will be convening an open meeting shortly to formalise the work and strategies of the Democratic Reform Alliance moving forward. I would ask you to join me in this campaign to renovate Australian politics by signing up to receive the Newsletter and to staying in touch with this work.
Independent Senate Candidate