More context on Liberals For Climate

Why choose this name?

Author: Daithí Gleeson — Thu, 28 January 2021

We are changing the name of the Western Australian party to Liberals For Climate - The Flux Network.

We are doing this because:

  • It is a political statement which draws attention due to one of the most contentious topics of our time - the politics of climate issues; and
  • It speaks to people feeling unrepresented by the policy decisions of the major parties.

# Why “Liberals” For Climate?

The word “liberal” has been distorted in recent times. It now means different things to different people depending on the context. However to most people, the most universal interpretation of being a liberal means living a life aligned to core principles of liberty and equality.

Liberals espouse a wide array of views and generally support free markets, free trade, limited government, individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion.

Democracy is a fundamental pillar which ensures that liberal values are able to find expression in society. Without democratic processes, the rights of citizens can not be guaranteed. This claim can be assessed by looking at countries which do not enshrine democratic processes, and rely on the benevolence of a monarchy or military dictatorship.

The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

The challenge with having an open liberal society presents when we try to find ways to make everyone happy (or at least make as many people as possible happy while minimising the impact on those who are not happy). We’ve come to understand that it is an almost impossible task (see Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem for context), but nonetheless we will continue to seek ways to create better democratic outcomes.

# With freedom comes accountability

Australia is an example of a liberal democracy, where the freedoms of the individual are celebrated, protected, and also limited by the law to prevent harm being done. We use our laws to enhance prosperity and ensure fairness. If a law is unfair or unjust, we must examine it and if necessary improve on it so that it can be made better.

A healthy liberal democracy involves its citizens in the process of making the laws by which they will be governed. This is usually done with elections where voters choose candidates and parties to represent their views, but there are many ways to create a functioning democracy.

Semi-Direct Democracy, e.g. the Swiss Parliamentary model, is a method that involves citizens directly determining the outcome of legislation prepared by their Parliamentarians. This is one method which encourages participation from citizens and is successful because the Swiss take great pride in their process and informed political participation is embedded as responsibility of all citizens.

Our proposed model of Digital Democracy starts by taking the general form of the Swiss model and then making it more efficient and accessible by using modern smartphone technology to involve people in the legislative process.

If people expect better political outcomes, they must accept the responsibility which comes with that expectation. Voting for representatives in elections every four years is one way to contribute. It’s also possible to take a more frequent and involved approach. This does not necessarily mean daily, weekly or even monthly participation, but it could mean being open to changing course on an issue when new information comes to light during a parliamentary term.

Being an informed citizen who participates in civic life should be an aspirational standard we set for ourselves and those who will follow in our footsteps. To make the aspiration a tangible reality, we must make it easier for people to meaningfully participate in our democratic processes. That has been our mission since the beginning and will continue to be so.

# Why Liberals “For Climate”?

We have chosen Liberals For Climate as it draws attention to a contentious topic - the politics of climate issues. Constructive debate and tangible action on climate issues have been stifled in recent years as major political parties have allowed climate issues to be treated as matters of political ideology rather than matters of science, economics and our shared humanity.

There are various factors which have contributed to the dysfunction regarding climate issues, but two of the most obvious ones are:

  • The influence of ideology in how major parties make decisions; and
  • The influence of donations in shaping major party policy.

# The influence of idealogy

Parties, and people, with beliefs built on ideology will often exhibit tendencies which make them more prone to error. In order to defend their beliefs, they are likely to seek out information which supports their view and reject information which opposes it. This is certainly not a good method to discover the truth about our shared reality.

The same general approach which has given us scientific breakthroughs in our laboratories, can also be applied to give us political progress in our parliaments.

Addressing climate issues (and all other complex issues) requires that we always seek out information which challenges our beliefs. This will make our views and theories more robust and help us identify the ideas which are true, from those which are false. It is vital that we test our theories about reality in actual reality. This involves open debate, constructive criticism and changing our minds when we discover a better explanation. This is how we work towards progress - testing and improving our ideas over time.

In this way, we are Liberals “For Climate” and we are Liberals “For Everything Important” too.

# The influence of donations

Donations are one of the most egregious and corrupting influences in politics. There are verifiable records of the large amounts of money that have been donated by individuals and corporations to major political parties. There are likely many more significantly large donations that will remain hidden from public knowledge.

Why do individuals and corporations donate these large sums of money? Because money helps win elections, elections decide who sits in Parliament, Members of Parliament make the laws, and the laws determine what individuals and corporations can and can’t do.

The corrupting influence of political donations has become very apparent to people in recent times. We see this influence in the relationship between donations from fossil fuel companies and the policy positions and parliamentary decisions of the candidates and parties receiving those donations.

It is time for citizens to step forward and participate in shaping the policies which will influence our lives - this includes matters pertaining to climate issues.

# What is the process for changing the party name?

It requires an application to amend the official Register of Political Parties maintained by the Western Australian Electoral Commission (WAEC).

We communicated our intentions to the Electoral Commissioner and submitted the application. The Electoral Commission reviewed the application to ensure it complies with the Electoral Act. Once approved by the Electoral Commissioner, our party is listed on the register as “Liberals For Climate - The Flux Network”.

It’s also worth pointing out that this change only applies to the Western Australian party. The federal party and NSW party are not included in this particular initiative.

# In closing

This name change is an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity for us to reach and engage the wider public on the most pertinent issues of our time.

It’s an opportunity for people to find and join a party that is working to address issues by increasing democratic participation.

We remain fully committed to our core mission - addressing issues with digital democracy solutions which involve citizens directly participating in the legislative process.

Liberals For Climate is us changing gears here in WA as we prepare to increase the speed on our journey.

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