Plan and Prospectus

For the Two-Year Period
July 2019 – July 2021

This is our two-year plan and prospectus for the establishment of a mainstream centrist political movement to represent the 80% of us in the Sensible Centre of Australian life. It is designed so that individuals, groups and parties may join at any point in this twenty-four month period and participate, and test the authenticity and prospects of this initiative, judging these for themselves and reaching their own conclusions.

This plan is also a prospectus in the sense that we want Australians from many different walks of life to assess our ‘prospects’. Can we achieve our goals and avoid the pitfalls and disappointments that have accompanied previous attempts to create a broad, inclusive, centrist political movement?

You are invited to consider this plan, and our prospects, and join us.

centre

Mission

To create a political movement positioned in the Sensible Centre of Australian life to represent the 80% of us who identify as neither ‘right’ nor ‘left’, ‘progressive’ nor ‘conservative’, who want a unifying consensus-based approach to meeting the economic, social, environmental and institutional challenges facing us.

Goal

To develop a movement with the organizational and financial capacity to seriously challenge the two establishment parties in Australian politics by July 2021, and to be recognized by the general public by this time as the primary political challenger to ‘business-as-usual’ in Australian politics and government,  with 15,000 members, a respected national leadership and policy agenda,  and registration with federal and state/territory electoral commissions.

Values and Principles

1. We welcome diversity of opinion as a normal and natural feature of political life. We do not expect everyone to think the same or share the same political views. Open discussion and exchange of views in a respectful and courteous manner is required of participants in our movement.

2. We welcome people from across the traditional ‘left-right’, ‘progressive-conservative’ spectrum by emphasising:

a. empowerment of citizens and strengthening of civil society,
b. collaboration across social divisions and political backgrounds,
c. local initiatives and practical solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges, and
d. stronger community relationships and responsibilities.

3. Members of all ethnic backgrounds and religious groups are welcome, on the understanding that proselytising or recruiting for external organisations is not permitted.

4. Candidates and elected representatives of our movement have an obligation to work collaboratively with colleagues, but retain a right to hold and exercise a conscience vote on any matter, and/or a right to vote in accordance with majority opinion in their constituency.

5. Candidates and elected representatives of our movement are not career politicians and therefore may serve for a maximum of three terms only in a lower house of parliament, and two terms only in an upper house.

6. We will issue either open tickets or split tickets in preference arrangements with Coalition and Labor parties as befits a centrist party that is not-aligned with either.

7. We welcome leadership without ego. Participants are invited to bring commitment and character, but are requested to leave their political egos at home.

Strategy

To build trust amongst participating individuals and organizations in an incremental way over a period of two-years, building up participation in six national Divisions, 151 Federal Electoral Assemblies and a series of Community Conversations and Community Preselections in each electorate, with leadership exercised by a trusted and representative body of people across the country.

Our strategy of building trust over this period includes the following elements:

1. Members at the end of February 2020 will be eligible to participate in an online vote to select a name for the movement.

2. Between March and October 2020, we will conduct a series of Community Conversations in each federal electorate to identify a community leader capable of representing the movement in the 2022 federal election.

3. Members at the end of October 2020 will be eligible to vote in their federal electorate in a Community Preselection of a community leader as the federal candidate of the movement in the 2022 federal election.

4. Members at the end of June 2021 will be eligible to vote in their state or territory in a Community Preselection of a lead Senate candidate in the 2022 federal election.

5. Local government elections in WA, QLD, NSW and Victoria take place in this two-year period. Members of the movement will be encouraged to select and support candidates in these elections in WA (October 2019), Queensland (March 2020), NSW (September 2020) and Victoria (October 2020).

6. A Queensland state election will be held by October 2020. Members of the movement will be encouraged to select and support candidates in this election.

NB In both local government and Queensland state elections, members will be encouraged to participate as opportunities for group learning and outreach, and preparation for the federal election in 2022.

Organisation

Membership

There are two categories of membership:

1. Full Members – $25 fee, full voting rights, eligible to be Candidates, FEA Convenors  and Directors
2. Community Members – $10 fee, eligible to vote in Community Preselections

All membership fees paid in this two-year period are valid until 30 June 2021.

Full members are allocated to an FEA and may choose to participate in one or more Divisions.

Federal Electorate Assemblies

Each member is attached to an FEA. Each FEA has an online group and may hold discussions and meetings as it sees fit.

A Convenor is appointed in each FEA. A Convenor may act as a local contact for the movement.

Divisions

Members may choose to participate in one or more Divisions:

Small Business Division
Seniors Division
Regional and Rural Division
NDIS and Mental Health Division
Children and Families Division
Centrelink and Employment Division

The role of Divisions is to create a public voice for sections of society that have a history of exclusion from public affairs and an urgent need for a national political voice. They operate as a national voice within the movement, with an online connection and forum, and set policy in their area, organise campaigns and initiatives, and encourage people to stand as candidates.

A Director is appointed to run each Division, reporting to the Steering Committee. A Director may appoint Assistant Directors or create other roles as they see fit.

Existing registered parties that participate in the movement may choose to be recognized as a Division.

Participating Parties

Existing registered parties that participate in the movement may retain their separate legal entity for a period of 9 months, and then review their ongoing participation. They may then choose to merge with the movement, following discussions with the Steering Committee about their legacy and its management. Or they may then choose to discontinue their participation.

There is a $50 joining fee for parties, with an opt-out provision after 9 months with a refundable fee. This is to ensure a formal and transparent process for participating parties.

Steering Committee

A Steering Committee oversees the development of the movement from July 2019 until July 2021. It will replaced by an elected National Executive in the latter half of 2021.

Registered parties that choose to join the movement are eligible for representation on the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee will comprise several positions with portfolio. These will include:

President – to act as public spokesperson for the movement
Convenor – to oversee strategic development of the movement
Party Relations Manager – to liaise with registered parties and support their participation
Disputes Resolution Co-ordinator – to act as a contact for members and parties with disputes that require resolution

The Steering Committee will appoint FEA Convenors and Division Directors.

Timeline

July 2019

Establishment of Steering Committee
Establishment of communication and social media instruments
Call for members

August 2019 – March 2020 

Participating parties retain their own legal entities
Call for Convenors in each federal electorate to convene a Federal Electorate Assembly (FEA)
Call for participants in each FEA
Each FEA has an online group and may hold discussions, meetings as it sees fit
Each FEA is encouraged to search for candidates for:
– Local Gov elections QLD in March 2020
– Local Gov elections NSW in Sept 2020
– Local Gov elections VIC in Oct 2020
– State election QLD in Oct 2020

September 2019– March 2020

Establishment of six Divisions:
– Small Business
– Seniors
– Regional and Rural
– NDIS and Mental Health
– Children and Families
– Centrelink and Employment

Call for Directors of each Division
Call for participants in each Division
Each Division may hold events, meetings, online forums as it sees fit

First Week of March 2020

Online vote of members on a name. To be eligible to vote, members must pay a membership fee by end of February.

March – April 2020

FEA participation in Local Gov elections QLD in March

March – October 2020

Each FEA conducts Community Conversations in each FE to search for community leaders as Federal candidates

September – October 2020

FEA participation in Local Gov elections NSW in Sept
FEA participation in Local Gov elections VIC in Oct
FEA participation in QLD State election in Oct

November 2020

Each FEA preselects a candidate for the 2022 federal election. FEA members have 100% say in selecting a candidate.
To be eligible to vote, members must have paid a membership fee by end of October 2020, either  as full members or as community members.

First Week of July 2021

Online vote of members in each state and territory on a lead Senate candidate for the 2022 federal election.
To be eligible to vote, members must have paid a membership fee by end of June 2021, either  as full members or as community members.

Further information

Vern Hughes
0425 722 890
vern@civilsociety.org.au