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Jacqui, Jacqui

When the last Federal election was called I publicly stated on The Anarchist World This Week, one of my radio programs on Community Radio 3CR, Jacqui Lambie would be re-elected as a Senator for Tasmania and she would be the most radical member of the crossbench, if not, the Federal Parliament. Since the election a year ago, despite a number of ridiculous forays up political cul de sacs, her voting record has highlighted she has the best interests of those Australians who are struggling despite living in the land of milk and honey. Her voting record over the past week has included opposing the removal of 18C, refusing to support tax cuts for both small and big business and refusing to back the Coalition government’s attack on social security beneficiaries. While the other 11 crossbenchers including the Xenophon group, Divided Nation (masquerading as One Nation), David Leyonhjelm the Liberal Democrat from NSW who supported all three motions, Senator Hinch who covered himself in glory by supporting all three motions and good old Senator Bernardi who almost cried when the removal of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was defeated. The current crossbench, apart from Senator Jacqui Lambie, consists of people with a reactionary, conservative ideological agenda.

The difference between Jacqui Lambie, the rest of the crossbenchers and the Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate is she is not a professional politician. Over 50% of all Liberal/National party members in Federal parliament are professional politicians who have earned their stripes by working for current and former sitting members. In the Labor party over 40% of members of parliament are former trade union officials. The difference between a professional politician and a representative like Jacqui Lambie is life experiences.

The majority of representatives in Federal Parliament are driven by ideological concerns. People pre-selected for office are those that pursue the same ideological agenda as the party they belong to. Life experience counts for nothing. On the other hand, people like Jacqui Lambie bring life experience to the parliamentary decision making process. When she broke down last week making an impassioned speech to parliament about not cutting social security benefits she did it as a result of her experiences as a single mother. When she steps into bat for veterans, she does so as a former member of the Australian Defence Force. When she talks about drug addiction, she does so as a mother of a former ice addict.

Parliament has been captured by professional politicians who owe their allegiance to the political party that pre-selects them, not the people they represent. It is no longer a house that represents the people of Australia. That’s why an increasing number of Australians are refusing to participate in an electoral process that refuses to address their issues.

Dr. Joseph Toscano