In this blog post:
- Financial report, June 2019–July 2020
- Leader's report for the 12 months to November 2020
The financial figures below were delivered in the Treasurer's Report by Michael Maroske, and the Leader's Report delivered by Andrea Leong, at the Science Party's Annual General Meeting on 19 November 2020, online.
Where does the money come from?
The Science Party only accepts donations from individuals, not from organisations. We have a small but steady flow of monthly donations, which are helpful because they let us plan our spending. But about one-third of all donations (by dollar amount) were made at the end of the financial year, after we sent a reminder email about donations of up to $1,500 being tax-deductible.
Where does the money go?
- 46% of our expenses was spent on advertising/promotion, with the bulk of that being on Facebook ads, which were mostly connected to the Eden-Monaro by-election. Other promotional spending comprised Google ads, Meetup.com fees and printing costs.
- 42% was spent on IT, with about half of that paying for Nationbuilder, the service we use to manage our website, donations and membership. The other half was spent on Google products and services, and other online tools (Videoblocks, Reckon, Canva, Bitwarden, Crazydomains, and Loomio) that we use to create content and manage communications.
- The remaining 12% went towards administrative expenses: bank fees, postage, public liability insurance and and meeting room hire.
2020 has been unique. All years have challenges, but the past 12 months have forced us to adapt to new situations in ways that would have seemed absurd this time last year.
Australia started the year shrouded in smoke, as bushfires burnt across all states, the ACT and Northern Territory. The bushfire season started in September last year and the last fire of the season was extinguished in May; some of them by fierce storms that cut electricity from 100,000 homes. No fewer than 34 people died as a result of the fires, 2-and-a-half thousand homes were burnt down, and an estimated billion animals were killed. The destruction triggered the "Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements", known informally as the Bushfire Royal Commission. May the Commonwealth Government take the recommendations seriously.
The Science Party in January called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do the right thing and convene a meeting with former fire chiefs, who were pleading for the nation to make use of their combined expertise.
While heavily-affected areas of Australia had barely started to recover, reports of pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus became widespread and serious. The World Health Organisation declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on the 30th of January, and characterised COVID-19 as a pandemic on the 11th of March.
As the implications of this new virus became clear, the Science Party was quick to move its Sydney meeting for the month of March to an online format. With four people generously spaced in a large room, I had a chat with our special guest, Jon Symons, and shared your questions on the topic of Ecomodernism. Ecomodernism is a philosophy that values human progress alongside environmental preservation, and which places responsibility on governments to address issues that span the economy. This aligns well with the Science Party platform and is a useful framework for discussing our approach to politics.
Also in March, we released a set of policy recommendations for the Coronavirus era. This included a recommendation to create an Australian Centre for Disease Control.
Australia is in a fantastic position in global terms, like our neighbours in NZ, but I have no desire to gloat about Australia's low case count to an international audience. Our fates are intertwined, partly because Australia is not self-reliant—and this has been shown very neatly by our need to import items to test for and treat COVID-19—but also because we are all just humans, in this crisis together.
Recent outbreaks in Adelaide and Auckland show how quickly things can change, and how stringent infection control measures need to be to stop a respiratory virus from spreading. Mandatory quarantine for return travellers certainly looks set to continue until a vaccine is available.
The speed with which vaccines have progressed to clinical trials is phenomenal. I understand that can be alarming, but it's also testament to what can be achieved when research funding is plentiful. Given the resources, humans solve problems.
In the middle of year, the Science Party ran a candidate in the Eden Monaro by-election: James Jansson campaigned online throughout June for an election on the 4th of July. One key point of that campaign was promoting a mask law—that is: a requirement to wear a covering over the nose and mouth in indoor public spaces where physical distancing is not possible.
Things that are good outside of a pandemic were strong talking points in Eden-Monaro, too: investment in research, healthcare, education, infrastructure, and environmental protection; and transparent, secular government.
The party's affiliation with the National Secular Lobby and James's public commitment to secular government gained some exposure. Local media outlets were proactive about gathering statements from all candidates. We placed eighth in a field of 14 candidates, just behind the parliamentary parties, HEMP, and a popular local independent. When voters know what we stand for, they vote for us. To move into the next tier at the next election, we need candidates, exposure, and campaign volunteers.
To stay registered as a federal political party in Australia, parties must maintain a minimum of 500 members (unless they have a member elected to parliament, in which case you can have a minimum of one). The Australian Electoral Commission checks party membership numbers between each federal election, and we were called up at the start of September. We sent emails and SMSes to our members, and party director Andrea Finno sent many, many individual emails to members to confirm their details. We passed the check with no fuss, and as a co-benefit we updated lots of contact details to help us keep in touch with you all.
Also in September, the Science Party passed its earlier recommendation to establish an Australian Centre For Disease control into our formal policy platform. The Labor Party was only two weeks behind us with a similar policy announcement.
Returning to the by-election: Eden-Monaro gave Australians a template for COVID-safe elections—protective screens around workers, physical distancing, and stacks of tiny pencils that are presumably disinfected between uses.
Queensland, ACT and Northern Territory elections all returned Labor governments to power. We don't know whether this is due to a strong preference for Labor party policies or a preference to keep things the same during a time of crisis.
Globally, with a newly elected majority Labour government in New Zealand, a new United States administration signalling that it is committed to the Paris Agreement, and the conservative UK government reaffirming the necessity of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Australia will be under more pressure than ever to act on climate change. State and territory governments are pushing ahead, with or without federal government cooperation, for example the NSW Liberal government with its Renewable Energy Zones, and South Australia's and Victoria's big batteries.
This space now, where change needs to happen rapidly to mitigate the worst effects of climate change is the space that the Science Party should thrive in. The existing federal parties of government do not know how to drive change. We are the wellbeing-focussed option at the polls, not weighed down by big party infighting.
We participate actively in democracy between elections, too. We've written three submissions to parliamentary inquiries over the last 12 months; and one to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, recommending that medicines based on cannabidiol (the major non-psychoactive component of cannabis) be available from pharmacists, without a prescription. Common sense prevailed there and that change is underway!
The first submission to parliament was on the conduct of the 2019 Federal Election. The other two were on political donations, and in both, we recommended improving transparency by requiring real-time reporting of political donations over $1,000.
The Science Party would be more than happy to declare such donations. We only take donations from human beings, not from organisations.
We are volunteer run, we are your party, we are here for you and we are limited only by our combined creativity and effort. Let's build ourselves up so that every Australian can vote Science at the next election.
The Science Party is staffed entirely by volunteers. We don't take money from corporations, only from people like you. If you want to help us bring truth and honesty back into politics please consider a tax deductible donation today.
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