Family First Party

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Not to be confused with Family First New Zealand.
Family First Party
Leader Bob Day
Founded 2001
Headquarters 77 Fullarton Road
Kent Town SA 5067
Colors          Blue and orange
House of Representatives
0 / 150
Senate
1 / 76
SA Legislative Council
2 / 22
Website
www.familyfirst.org.au

The Family First Party is an economically and socially conservative political party in Australia. Although the party publicly denies that it is a "Christian party", Family First has had links to conservative Christian religious groups, such as Australian Christian Churches (also known as the Assemblies of God in Australia), and many of its election candidates and members of parliament have had conservative Christian backgrounds. It has two members in the South Australian Legislative Council (Robert Brokenshire and Dennis Hood), plus one member of the federal Senate, Bob Day.[1]

Elected to the Senate at the 2004 federal election in Victoria, Steve Fielding failed to gain re-election at the 2010 federal election. His term ended on 30 June 2011.[2][3][4]

Political ideology[edit]

Environment and climate change[edit]

  • Rejection of the scientific consensus that climate change is human-induced and belief that carbon dioxide is 'plant food' and has had no influence on the world's climate in the past.
  • Opposition to any emissions trading scheme or 'carbon tax' and government subsidies to renewable energy.
  • Support for an independent enquiry which is prepared to hear scientists who disagree with climate change.[5]
  • In the 2006 Victorian election, the party had several policies that the Australian Conservation Foundation viewed as non-environmental, including the construction of new dams to increase water supplies, reducing fuel taxes, retaining existing logging agreements and supporting access to public lands for "recreational fishing, shooting and hunting".[6]

Education[edit]

  • Support for 'significant' religious and independent school funding.
  • Allow principals and school councils to choose staff based on 'values'.
  • Allow schools to direct their own building improvement works, rather than relying on governments.[7][8]

Bioethics and family policy[edit]

  • Opposition to abortion in most cases.
  • Opposition to voluntary euthanasia.[9][10]
  • Opposition to same-sex marriage and other types of civil unions, and same-sex parenting[11]
  • Opposition to surrogacy in all forms (including altruistic surrogacy).
  • Support for programs which encourage families to be 'self-reliant' and reduce the need for government assistance.[12][13]

Economy[edit]

  • Support for a 20/20/20 tax system ($20,000 tax-free threshold, 20 percent flat income tax and 20 percent flat company tax).
  • Opposition to payroll and mining taxes.
  • Abolition of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.[14][15]
  • Support for lowering small business taxes.[16][17]

Employment and workplace relations[edit]

  • Belief in workplace deregulation and that legislation designed to protect workers rights is bad for the economy and morally wrong.
  • Removal of workplace regulations and awards to combat the "welfare reliance" of Australians.
  • Support for the freedom of those who choose to work differently by moving out of the regulated world of 'traditional employment'.[18][19]
  • Family First was opposed to some aspects of the Howard government's Australian Workplace Agreement measures.[20] In his maiden speech, Senator Steve Fielding argued for a fairer work, rest and 'family time' (or leisure balance) in opposing the measures.[21]

Immigration[edit]

Indigenous affairs[edit]

  • Opposition to the Native Title Act as it currently stands, as Native Title rights do not confer the right to sell, lease, develop or offer the land as security for economic development.[23][24]
  • Belief that 'the only long term solution is for Aboriginal Australians to move into the modern world and connect with the modern economy'.
  • Repeal of any law which distinguishes between any Australian on the basis of race or colour.[25][26]

Housing and property development[edit]

  • Support removal of urban growth boundaries and zoning restrictions.
  • Privatisation of planning approvals and removal of up-front infrastructure charges.[27][28]
  • Opposition to the 'progressive erosion' of property owners' rights through legislation, heritage listing, water restrictions, native vegetation, rising sea levels, zoning and court decisions.[23][24]

Poverty[edit]

  • Support for education and training to take people out of poverty.
  • Support for foreign aid.[29][30]

Drugs[edit]

  • Support for rehabilitation and recovery programs and for prison-based programs to address drug use.
  • Opposition to injecting rooms as 'expensive and ineffective'.[31]

History[edit]

The party was founded in South Australia in time to contest the 2002 state election, when former Assemblies of God pastor Andrew Evans became its first Member of the Legislative Council (MLC), winning a seat in the South Australian Legislative Council. A second MLC, pharmaceutical executive Dennis Hood, was elected at the 2006 state election.

In the October 2004 federal election it contested seats all over Australia, generally exchanging preferences with Liberal candidates (but in some seats exchanging preferences with the Australian Labor Party). At that election the party was successful in electing their only federal politician Steve Fielding, Senator for Victoria. He shared the balance of power in the Senate with independent Nick Xenophon and the five Australian Greens in the July 2008 to July 2011 Senate.

In June 2008, sitting MP and former Liberal Party member Dan Sullivan joined as an executive member of the Western Australia State Branch of Family First. When three former One Nation MPs, attended the public launch it fuelled media speculation that they may try to influence the West Australian branch.[32][33]

Although officially eschewing religious labels, many of its candidates and members are from conservative Christian backgrounds. In the 2009/10 financial year party chairman Bob Day made two loans totalling $405,000 to the Family First Party. Its performance, however in which it gained 4 per cent of the vote in several lower house seats and in the South Australian Senate race – was enough to secure it about $400,000 in Commonwealth election funding.[34]

Glenn Druery's Minor Party Alliance was behind the 2013 federal election preference deal successes with candidate elections on 0.2 percent (Sports Party), 0.5 percent (Motoring Enthusiasts Party) and 3.8 percent (Family First Party).[35] Druery is on the payroll of the Shooters and Fishers Party and assists in organising preference meetings and negotiating preference flows between parties.[36][37] He had also received regular payments from the Family First Party and the Fishing and Lifestyle Party.[37][38][39][40][41]

Religious affiliation[edit]

Family First co-founder Pastor Andrew Evans was the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Australia for twenty years.[42] In the 2002 South Australian election and the 2004 federal election, a number of Family First candidates were church members. In New South Wales, 11 of their 23 candidates for the 2004 federal election were from an Assemblies of God church, the Hawkesbury Church in Windsor.[43]

South Australian Family First Member of the Legislative Council Dennis Hood, the party's state parliamentary leader, is a member of the Rostrevor Baptist Church. When Sunday Mail columnist Peter Goers stated that Hood was an anti-evolution Creationist,[44] Hood did not deny this in his response, while he did attempt to set the record straight on issues of policy.[45]

Family First's preferencing agreement with the Coalition in the 2004 federal election led Barnaby Joyce, the National senate candidate for Queensland, to publicly slam the party the day before the election, calling them "the lunatic Right", and stating that "these are not the sort of people you do preference deals with".[46] Joyce's comments came in response to a pamphlet published by one of the party's Victorian Senate candidates, Danny Nalliah who in his capacity as a church pastor had criticised other religions and homosexuality.

In September 2004, party leader Andrea Mason said that Family First is not a Christian party[47] and Family First Federal Secretary Dr Matt Burnet issued a press release stating:

"The party is not a church party or an Assembly of God party, nor is it funded by AOG churches. It does see itself as socially conservative, with Family Values based on Christian ethics. Like any main-stream party we do not have on record the religious affiliations of any of our members. The Board of Reference in South Australia includes business-people, members of the medical profession, as well as ministers and people from Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Uniting and other church groups. The rapid national growth of the party leading into this election and the late decision to contest in all seats possible, has meant that in some states there are candidates, with strong family values, who have been introduced to the party through the personal relationships they have from their involvement in community/church networks".

A 60-minute documentary was made for the ABC-TV Compass program in 2005 and called "Family First – A Federal Crusade".[48] It was produced by Dr Bruce Redman from The University of Queensland.

By August 2010, the party maintained its non-denominational stance and affirmed its affinity towards Christianity in stating "Family First in 2010 is independent of any church or denomination...like so many other Australian institutions, at Family First our Christian heritage is something we are both proud of and grateful for."[49]

Elections and results[edit]

2002 South Australian election[edit]

The first election Family First contested was the 2002 South Australian Election. Dr Andrew Evans received a primary vote of 4.02 percent which, along with preferences from other parties, was sufficient to obtain the 8.3 percent quota and get elected to one of the 11 seats available in the South Australian Legislative Council.

2004 federal election[edit]

The party agreed to share House of Representatives preferences with the LiberalNational Coalition at the 2004 election[50] (with some exceptions discussed below).

Family First picked up 1.76 percent of the vote nationally. Steve Fielding, the lead candidate in Victoria, was successful in picking up the last Senate seat. Although he received a primary vote of only 1.88 percent (56,376 votes), he achieved the 14.3 percent quota required by a run of preferences including those from the Australian Labor Party. The typically apolitical psephologist Malcolm Mackerras stated "The outlandish result occurred in Victoria in 2004 where the Family First party was able to gather tickets from just about everywhere... this is a fluke. And I’ve always referred to Senator Steve Fielding as the Fluke Senator".[51]

The party also came close to picking up other Senate seats in Tasmania (largely due to preferences from surplus Liberal votes) and in South Australia where the then party leader Andrea Mason narrowly missed out (polling 3.98 percent and receiving Liberal preferences).

State elections since 2004[edit]

In the 2005 Western Australian election, Family First polled 21,701 votes in the Legislative Council where it contested 34 candidates[52] compared to 57 candidates in major parties.[53] In the 2006 South Australian election, Family First's vote increased to 4.98 percent in the Legislative Council, and a second Member of the Legislative Council was elected – former pharmaceutical executive Dennis Hood. In several rural and outer metropolitan seats, Family First's vote approached 10 percent – and in the seat of Kavel, Tom Playford, a descendent of former Premier Tom Playford, achieved a vote of 15.7 percent.[54] In the Legislative Council, Family First shares the balance of power with the other minor parties and independents.

In the 2006 Queensland state election, Family First received a primary vote of 7 percent in contested seats (many seats were not contested), with a high of 14.5 percent and several other seats posting results of 10 percent.[55][56] Queensland does not have an Upper House, and these results were insufficient for any candidates to be elected.

In the 2006 Victorian state election, Family First's vote increased from 1.9 percent to 4.3 percent of first preferences,[57] however no candidates were elected.

In the 2012 Queensland state election the party unsuccessfully contested 38 seats.

Federal by-elections since 2004[edit]

Following the resignation of Mark Latham and their acquisition of a Senate seat in 2004, Family First contested the 2005 Werriwa by-election and in the absence of a Liberal candidate received 2,890 first preference votes. They had not contested Werriwa in 2004.

As a result of their relatively poor form in the 2007 election, Family First did not contest the 2008 Gippsland by-election, but in a later by-election for the seat of Mayo they won 11.40 percent of the vote but only ran fourth in the absence of a Labor candidate, a total that was only four percent above their vote in the 2007 general election.

Family First did not stand a candidate in any of the 2008 Lyne, 2009 Bradfield or 2009 Higgins by-elections.

2007 federal election[edit]

Family First contested the 2007 federal election, in particular seeking to increase its Senate representation. Nationwide, the party received 1.62 percent of the primary vote in the Senate, and 1.99 percent in the House of Representatives, both down slightly on the 2004 result. In Victoria however, both the lower and upper house vote increased by 0.64 percent, to 2.52 and 3.02 percent respectively. No Family First candidates were elected. Sitting Senator Steve Fielding's term did not expire until 2011.

Before the 2007 federal election, Fred Nile criticized Family First for giving preferences (in some states) to the Liberty and Democracy Party, a libertarian political party that as one of its policies wants to legalize recreational drug use, stating "They gave their preferences to the enemy, the anti-Christian party."[58] This was suggested as a reason for their poor election result.[59] Fred Nile's own Christian Democratic Party had also preferenced the Liberty and Democracy Party before any other major party in the Senate.[60]

In 2008, some newspapers claimed that Fielding wanted to "relaunch himself as a mainstream political player, beyond Family First's ultra-conservative evangelical Christian support base." The reports indicated that Fielding had tried to recruit Tim Costello and others around the beginning of 2008 with a view to forming a new party, but had failed to convince them.[61] The revelations came after Fielding changed his position on abortion, after being rebuffed by his party for taking a softer approach.[62] Fielding denied the claims.

2010 federal election[edit]

At the 2010 federal election, Family First contested the Senate in all states, but were not successful, with the national vote remaining at around two percent. Fielding's term ended on 30 June 2011, after which the Family First Party no longer had federal parliamentary representation.[2][3][4]

The Queensland Family First Senate candidate Wendy Francis created controversy when she compared allowing same-sex marriage to the stolen generations and to "legalising child abuse".[63]

2013 federal election[edit]

Bob Day ran as a Family First Party South Australia Senate candidate at the 2013 federal election and was successful. The South Australian Senate Family First vote was 3.8 percent (down 0.3 percent),[64] getting to the 14.3 percent quota through Glenn Druery's Minor Party Alliance from 19 group voting ticket party preferences: Australian Independents Party, Australian Stable Population Party, Liberal Democratic Party, Smokers' Rights Party, No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics, Building Australia Party, Rise Up Australia Party, Katter's Australian Party, One Nation, Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, Australian Christians, Shooters and Fishers, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, Democratic Labour Party, Animal Justice Party, Australian Greens, Palmer United Party, HEMP Party, Australian Labor Party.[35][65] The nationwide Family First Senate vote was 1.1 percent (down 1.0 percent).[66] Day assumed his seat on 1 July 2014.

Defections from other parties[edit]

The party has benefited from a series of high-profile defections.

  • Former South Australian state Liberal minister Robert Brokenshire contested the 2007 federal election for the party, and subsequently won preselection to replace retiring founder Evans in the state Legislative Council. At the 2010 South Australian Election, Robert Brokenshire was re-elected as a Family First candidate for a Legislative Council seat.
  • In June 2008, former Western Australian deputy Liberal leader Dan Sullivan announced that he would become the parliamentary leader of the state branch of the party.[67] Three former One Nation MPs have expressed support for the new party.[32] On 14 August 2008, independent (former Liberal) Western Australian MP Anthony Fels joined the Party.[68] At the Western Australian state election, 2008 both Sullivan and Fels stood for seats in the Western Australian Legislative Council, but neither was successful. Fels remained a member of the Legislative Council until his term expired in May 2009.
  • Also in June 2008, Bob Randall, a former South Australian Liberal MP and party president joined the party, complaining that the Liberal Party had drifted too far to the "left", and that "Family First is the only truly conservative political force now left in Australia".[69]
  • On 3 August 2008 Bob Day, a prominent Coalition fundraiser and Liberal candidate for Makin in the 2007 federal election announced that he was joining Family First.[70] He contested the Mayo by-election, 2008 for the party, gaining 11.4 percent of the primary vote, but was not elected.
  • In New South Wales, former Christian Democratic Party MLC Gordon Moyes became an independent in 2009 for a few months before joining Family First. He was defeated at the 2011 state election.
  • In June 2013, former Katter's Australian Party candidate and national director Aidan McLindon joined Family First [71] and was the lead Senate candidate for Family First in Queensland in the 2013 federal election.[72]

Structure[edit]

Family First is incorporated as a Company limited by guarantee and managed by an Executive Committee comprising the Board of Directors. Decision making is tightly held within the executive group, including the capacity to elect new members to the executive, determine party policy and ratify candidate pre-selection.[73] A National Conference occurs once every two years, with delegates from state party licensees. Federal and State branches have Annual General Meetings that are open to all members.[73]

Political relations[edit]

David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party and Day announced their intention to vote as a bloc in the Senate on economic issues, but will vote separately on social issues.[74]

Family First and the Australian Greens are often at odds, with Family First often referring to the Greens as "extreme" in their media statements. The two parties are in competition for Senate preferences, particularly from the Labor Party, and ideologically opposed on many issues.[75][76] In the 2006 Victorian election, Family First's limited television advertising campaign specifically singled out the Greens for criticism.

Relations between Family First and Fred Nile's Christian Democratic Party (Australia) are strained by the need to compete for the same group of voters and to secure Senate preferences.[citation needed]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Margaret Simons: Faith, Money and Power: What the Religious Revival Means for Politics: North Melbourne: Pluto Press: 2007

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Family First wins Senate spot in SA
  2. ^ a b "Senate result confirms Fielding's defeat: ABC 16 September 2010". Abc.net.au. 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  3. ^ a b Levy, Megan (2010-09-16). "Family First's Steve Fielding loses Senate seat: The Age 16 September 2010". Melbourne: Theage.com.au. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  4. ^ a b "2010 Senate Results – Summary: ABC elections". Abc.net.au. 2010-07-29. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  5. ^ Family First : Queensland
  6. ^ "ACF – Victorian election: Environment groups release policy score card". Acfonline.org.au. 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  7. ^ Family First : Queensland
  8. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Schooling-Policy.pdf
  9. ^ Family First : Queensland
  10. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/life-Policy.pdf
  11. ^ [1][dead link], and other same-sex rights.
  12. ^ Family First : Queensland
  13. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Family-Policy.pdf
  14. ^ Family First : Queensland
  15. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Tax-Policy.pdf
  16. ^ Family First : Queensland
  17. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Small-Business-Policy.pdf
  18. ^ Family First : Queensland
  19. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Employment-Policy.pdf
  20. ^ Family First cuts ties to Libs over IR policy, AM, 30 November 2005
  21. ^ "Parliament of Australia: Senate: Senator Fielding's First Speech". Aph.gov.au. 2005-08-10. Retrieved 2010-06-16. [dead link]
  22. ^ [2][dead link]
  23. ^ a b Family First : Queensland
  24. ^ a b http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Property-Rights-Policy.pdf
  25. ^ Family First : Queensland
  26. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Aboriginal-Affairs-Policy.pdf
  27. ^ Family First : Queensland
  28. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Housing-Policy.pdf
  29. ^ Family First : Queensland
  30. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Fighting-Poverty-Policy.pdf
  31. ^ http://www.familyfirst.org.au/files/Drugs-Policy.pdf
  32. ^ a b "Fischer throws weight behind Family First in WA". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-06-22. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  33. ^ "Sullivan to lead Family First". Yahoo!7. 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-06-25. [dead link]
  34. ^ Williams, Ruth; Hawthorne, Mark (2011-02-13). "Family First gets $405,000 lifeline from its chairman". The Age (Melbourne). 
  35. ^ a b Micro-manager behind independents: SMH 10 September 2013
  36. ^ Preference whisperer goes fishin’ in SA: InDaily 21 February 2014
  37. ^ a b Bitter dispute erupts over Senate preferences in Queensland: ABC 5 September 2013
  38. ^ Senate voting inquiry prompted by Glenn Druery's election tactics could put end to preference trading: ABC 31 March 2014
  39. ^ Promoting people power or gaming the system? Meet 'the preference whisperer': ABC 31 March 2014
  40. ^ Alliance of micro parties boosts odds for likes of One Nation or Shooters and Fishers gaining Senate spot through preferences: Daily Telegraph 5 September 2013
  41. ^ Minor parties will prosper in WA Senate re-run, says 'preference whisperer' Glenn Druery: SMH 21 February 2014
  42. ^ Toni Hassan (2004-09-29). "The Religion Report". Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). [dead link]
  43. ^ Mike Seccombe (2004-09-24). "Behind Family First is a clan of true believers". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax). 
  44. ^ "This Hood's hardly one of the boyz". Sunday Mail (Adelaide). 2006-08-13. 
  45. ^ "Family First far from extremists". Sunday Mail (Adelaide). 2006-08-27. 
  46. ^ Roberts, Greg (8 October 2004). "Nationals split over Family First deal – Election 2004". The Australian. p. 9.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  47. ^ Karen Barlow & Nance Haxton (2004-09-20). "Family First Party campaigns on family values". The World Today (Australian Broadcasting Corporation Local Radio). 
  48. ^ Family First: A Federal Crusade, ABC Compass, 1 May 2005
  49. ^ "Family First – South Australia". Family First. Retrieved 2010-08-08. [dead link]
  50. ^ "House of Representatives Preferencing" (PDF) (Press release). Family First Party. 24 September 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2008. 
  51. ^ "Family First faces tough election: Reportage 19 August 2010". Reportageonline.com. 2010-08-19. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  52. ^ http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/elections/documents/state/2005/LA%20Elected%20Members%20of%20Parliament%20-%20P21.pdf
  53. ^ [WA Electoral Commission – State General Election Results on www.waec.wa.gov.au]http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/elections/documents/state/2005/LA%20Candidates%202005%20-%20P11.pdf
  54. ^ "2006 South Australian Election. Kavel Electorate Profile. Australian Broadcasting Corp". ABC. 2006-04-20. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  55. ^ "Minor parties hail poll results – National". Melbourne: theage.com.au. 2006-09-10. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  56. ^ ":: Family First – Queensland::". Qld-familyfirst.org.au. Retrieved 2010-06-16. [dead link]
  57. ^ Murphy, Mathew (27 November 2006). "Family First buoyed". The Age. p. 10. Retrieved 16 Aug 2010.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  58. ^ Steve Lewis (2007-11-06). "Christian party's unholy alliance". Herald Sun. 
  59. ^ Steve Lewis (2007-11-26). "Electorate strips landscape of the bit-part players". The Daily Telegraph. 
  60. ^ "NSW_2007_GVT_A4.indd" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  61. ^ Packham, Ben; Jean, Peter (30 September 2008). "Senator wanted to quit". Herald Sun. p. 4.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  62. ^ Packham, Ben (27 September 2008). "Fielding abortion heat Retreat on women's rights comments". Herald Sun. p. 11.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  63. ^ Grubb, Ben (2010-08-09). "Family First candidate Wendy Francis stands by gay slur on Twitter". The Age. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  64. ^ 2013 SA Senate results: AEC
  65. ^ 2013 SA Senate results and preference flows: ABC
  66. ^ 2013 Senate results: AEC
  67. ^ Splinter Party Another Blow to Struggling Libs, The West Australian, 20/8/08.
  68. ^ Campbell, Kate (16 August 2008). "Walker, D’Orazio fight as Independents but Omodei quits". The West Australian. p. 9.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  69. ^ "Former Liberal leader joins Family First". Melbourne: News.theage.com.au. 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  70. ^ Sunday Mail, 3/8/08
  71. ^ "Aidan McLindon signs up for Family First party role". ABC News. 5 June 2013. 
  72. ^ "Aidan McLindon new lead Senate candidate for Family First". The Chronicle. 9 August 2013. 
  73. ^ a b "RULES OF FAMILY FIRST PARTY QLD. LIMITED". Queensland Electoral Commission. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  74. ^ Heath Aston (1 June 2014). "Senate's odd couple quickly form a voting blocThe Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  75. ^ "Compass". Abc.net.au. 2005-05-01. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  76. ^ Farr, Malcolm (2007-04-16). "Greens completely cut down to size". NEWS.com.au. Retrieved 2010-06-16.