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Reason Australia Closing Down

From Fiona Patten

As many of you now know, the members voted at the AGM to wind up Reason Australia and Reason Victoria. This is a bittersweet letter to write.

It doesn’t feel like fifteen years ago that the idea to form a small political party to champion civil and personal rights took shape. Many of you will know that it happened around my kitchen table one evening in 2009. (page 235 of my book!) We were elected in 2014 and in 2016 evolved into Reason.

At the beginning I think it is fair to say that most people did not think we would amount to much. However, history clearly shows that we were incredibly successful over nearly a decade in the parliament. And our effect is still there.

We were the first real ‘Teals’. Not just the first to use the teal colours in 2016 but to offer a real independent alternative to the big three.

In the short space of two parliamentary terms in Victoria we pushed through or initiated a lot! Some of my highlights are:

• A Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in North Richmond
• Safe Access Zones from protesters around fertility clinics
• Voluntary Assisted Dying laws – we initiated the inquiry that led to reform
• Decriminalisation of sex work
• A Spent Convictions Scheme for criminal records in Victoria
• Uber and ridesharing legalisation
• Leaving foster and out of home care age extended from 18 to 21 years
• Anti-vilification legislation, including online vilification of women
• Lord’s Prayer removed from Parliament for next the Parliamentary term
• Land tax changes applying to religious businesses
• A future cap on election campaign spending via a review of 2022 election
• E-petitions to Parliament

Medicinal Cannabis Driving taskforce
Parliamentary Inquiry into the legalisation of cannabis
The last term was tough for us all. COVID locked the country down and we all learned to survive in new and novel ways. And in 2022 I was diagnosed and treated for kidney cancer just before the election campaign started.

But a much larger threat to our chances loomed when we took on a preference whisperer earlier in the term and moved legislation to make his activities illegal. It was a bold move and if the government decided not to back this electoral reform then we would leave ourselves open to a preference war which would be hard to withstand. The government didn’t support us in this and we paid the price. But such is politics. You can either horse trade for your position or you can stand up for your principles. You can’t do both.

Is this the end of Reason? Well, I hope not but sometimes it looks that way. Politics, it seems, is steering clear of evidence and reason while populism is on the rise.

But I like to think that we have left some 'indelible reason’ around for others to build on. And I hope that many of the people who were involved with our party will continue to represent our community on the important issues: a secular society, women’s health, drug law reform, VAD, the adult industry, etc.

From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank you all. You were the soul of our little movement and you made Sex and Reason possible. Without all of you, Victoria (and in the case of VAD, the rest of Australia) would be a different place than it is today.

I know we will continue to advocate, campaign and persuade and I look forward to doing that with you.

Much love and thanks,