Oh how the mighty have fallen. They who kept the bastards honest. They who forced John Howard to make compromises on the GST. They who then self destructed into what now appears to be farcical oblivion. I didn't realize just how bad things were for the Democrats until I was reading the statement the Pirate Party made on their preferences, and learned of the wreck that the Democrats currently are.
At the moment there are two separate groups claiming to be the Australian Democrats. One has the old logo I remember from years of yore and has candidates and has submitted preferences, the other has the no 1 spot on Google searches for Australian Democrats and better social media presence all round. The AEC are treating it as an internal matter and not really taking a stand other than saying until it's sorted out they won't change the registered officials. There are now questions as to whether the party still has the required 500 members to be a registered party.
So, how do I do this write up. Fortunately, their policies are pretty similar. They support the carbon tax, raising the tax free threshold, better treatment of refugees, greater access to schooling for children with special needs, a national curriculum. Without the personal squabbles, there's really no reason for the split.
As a centrist party they don't take any extreme positions, so there's not much to find there. I really wish they could get back to being in a position to keep the bastards honest, but I'm really not sure if they'll be around for the next election after this one. I'll miss them as they were the first party I was interested in, even if it was due to the fact that Natasha Stott Despoja was on Good News Week a lot, rather than any true political conviction, but I feel that they showed that there was room for a third party to contribute to the Australian political scene by being able to force the major parties to have to make deals rather than just follow their ideologies untempered by others (and indeed, Howard's downfall came only after he finally gained power in the senate). Others have followed in their footsteps in this role, and indeed the last parliament has been a great example of this.
Ultimately I'm still going to have the Democrats high on my ballot paper, but not as high up as they once were.
Website: http://www.australiandemocrats.org.au/ (the one without candidates)
Website: http://www.australian-democrats.org.au/ (the one with candidates)
Twitter: @AusDemocrats (the one without candidates)