Six years ago, I was overseas in Europe, travelling largely by myself which gave me a long time to think. I was thinking about the report that I had just given at a Glasgow conference, which focused heavily on longevity. In this case, I was showing that people with HIV were living a long time and that currently available treatments were largely sufficient to treat those with HIV into old age.
While I was travelling from city to city in just a few hours on trains and metros, I realised two things.
Firstly, part of what makes places like Paris, and Berlin and other major cities in Europe really amazing was how well everything worked. Europe is loaded with huge numbers of train and metro stations, which is a real shock to someone who grew up in western Sydney.
But even more importantly, it was the people. It was the people that gave the area so much life and culture. Each city was so close. But importantly, in each city, the buildings were tall. Not sky scrapers, but the majority of Parisians and Berliners live in buildings of 7 storeys. People travel all over the world to see people living this way.
From this I concluded 3 things
- People are fundamentally good. They are a net positive to society and the people around them.
- We can build and grow our societies and communities better.
- Death and disease can be conquered, just like we did with HIV and AIDS, with concerted effort and cooperation.
Starting the Party
It was at this time that I decided that there was a space in Australian politics for an overwhelmingly positive and forward-thinking political party. I wrote 10,000 words worth of policy on the French high-speed rail and sent it around to a group of friends. People got excited and we started the Future Party.
At the time, we were quite innovative. We had online signups, and heavy use of computer scientists to reduce the time to process entries. Online advertising was only just getting its feet in the social space. We were unique, and we were scalable.
We registered the party in time for the 2013 election. We ran in that election in the upper house in NSW and lower house in Kingsford Smith and Moreton, and in the Senate in NSW
This was around the time that communities started to organically grow on the internet around Futurism and transhumanism. It was little wonder that quite quickly a new party popped up, Transhumanism Party Australia. Obviously, we started hanging out and we ended up working together.
Since then we've had the 2015 NSW upper house election, the 2015 North Sydney by-election.
We formed the Alliance for Progress which I believe precipitated the change to the senate preferencing system.
We had the 2016 federal election, which was called quite early and immediately after our name change. That was a fantastic campaign with candidates all over the country.
- Brendan Clarke in Berowra
- Nathan Waters in Cunningham
- Meow in Grayndler
- Vivek Singha in Greenway
- Andrea Leong in Kingsford Smith
- James Coffey in North Sydney
- Tom Geiser in Sydney
- Marc Giordano in Warringah
- Tom Gordon in Watson
- Peter Xing in Wentworth
We had Jin Oh Choi and Hans Willink in Tasmania running for the Senate. In Victoria we had Luke James. And of course we had Eve and myself running in NSW
2017 saw the merging of members from the Bullet Train for Australia Party with the Science Party.
2017 and 2018 saw a ridiculous number of by-elections and we've run in so many of them:
- Meow Ludo Meow-Meow in New England
- James Jansson in Bennelong
- Aaron Hammond in Perth
- James Noonan in Longman
- Andrea Leong in Wentworth
Stepping aside as Leader for Andrea Leong
Six years since its first inception, I am stepping aside as Leader, and Andrea is now our federal Leader.
It's nice to have a woman at the helm. It's also nice having a person of colour in a leadership position (which I think is mentioned a lot less than it should be). But don't be confused about why I am stepping aside. It's not because I am giving up or because Andrea's a woman. It's because I believe Andrea will do great things for the party in the Leader position.
When Andrea joined, it was obvious she was a keen bean for politics. She has taken on so many tasks with Future/Science Party:
- She ran as a candidate in the 2016 election
- She organised the March for Science
- She has been Policy Officer, maintaining and building policy and as well as our submissions to government committees
- She initiated and built the NSW branch
- And of course she ran in the Wentworth by-election, with strong fundraising and turnout of volunteers on the election day
- Week after week she is in the online meeting managing the next step for the Science Party. She is the most committed member of the party.
I think that Andrea is the best person to be leading the Party into the next federal election, and as the likely lead candidate for the NSW senate ticket, would make an excellent Senator.
It's been a crazy ride so far. I'm still here, but now I'm riding shotgun as deputy leader, helping with navigation with Andrea at the wheel.
Part of a larger shake up
The replacement of myself as leader is part of a larger shake up for the organisation. We also have Tom Byrt and Stephen McCormick stepping aside from the Executive.
Stephen was also involved in policy management and worked on social media.
I think that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Tom Byrt who managed the finances and compliance of the party as Treasurer for multiple years. Thankfully for him and unfortunately for us, his new role requires him to be independent and as such cannot be involved as an office bearer of a political party.
We also welcome Aaron Hammond and Michael Maroske to the Executive and Michael has become our Treasurer. Both have shown an enormous commitment to the party so far, and will make great members of the Executive.
Increasing activity in the Party
On the back of increased interest in politics thanks to by-elections and also a general feel of change being on the horizon, I think that there has been a lift up in interest in the Science Party well beyond what we'd expect at this time in the election cycle. We have members from all over the country getting active, and it looks like Queensland, ACT, South Australia and Victoria will all be active in the coming federal election.
The election campaign begins now, and we can get elected
We have what looks to be 6 months until the federal election. I think it's time now to get behind the new Leader and Executive team. We can get elected but we have to start acting like the campaign begins today.
In the 2013 election, our 2 lower house seats averaged 0.69% result. In 2016, our lower house seats averaged 1.66% - 2.4 times better result in each seat. But we also ran in 10 seats, instead of just 2. So we ended up with nearly 13 times more votes in the lower house. This increase in both the public support on a percentage basis an increase in active membership resulted in many, many more votes for the Senate. In NSW in 2016 we had 4.3 times as many votes as we did in 2013.
If we replicate the 4X result of last time, there is a strong chance of us getting elected.
There are 3 core things that I think need to be done to ensure that we increase our votes substantially:
- We need to focus on that positive vision. I believe people get excited by ambition. That we aren't just there to get power, but to do something good for society with it.
- We need involvement from party members all over the country, interstate and across the broad variety of regions in Australia. We need to appeal to a broad base and that broad base needs to see itself in the party. It's up to party members to ensure an increasing result in the upcoming election. So get involved in the best political party in Australia.
- We need to become an exponential organisation. People need to hear about us easily using low cost promotion. People need to go from hearing about us to fully-fledged member, volunteer and donor in as few steps as possible. This process also needs to be self-sustaining, with more members bringing more members and promotion and donations being cash-positive.
I'd like to thank everyone who has supported myself as Leader of the Party and encourage you to give even more support to the Party in the coming 6 months in the lead up to the election.