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Sandra Kanck on Australian Democrats growth-lobby backlash

Sandra Kanck gives her account of what preceded her 'expulsion' from the Australian Democrats over the matter of population policy. Sandra was an Australian Democrats member of the South Australian Legislative Council from 1993-2009 and the last Democrat member in elected government. When she retired she became the president of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) and still is. The conflict in the Australian Democrats is a reflection of the greater conflict in Australia between the growth lobby and democratic representation and environmental democracy. As such it is important to people far beyond the Democrats themselves. (Article written by Sandra Kanck).

The observations already made on “Can Do Better” about what has happened in relation to the internal machinations of the Democrats and my sacking from the party are extremely perceptive. That’s probably because those of us who have fought for population abatement have seen these things acted out before, sometimes on bigger stages and not necessarily in political parties.

Thirty-three years ago, in formulating the Democrats’s no.2 objective “To accept the challenges of the predicament of humanity on the planet with its exponentially increasing population, disappearing finite resources and accelerating deterioration of the environment”, the founding mothers and fathers of the party were profoundly aware of the future.

The treatment meted out to me began, I suspect, a year ago when a strongly-worded new draft population policy was circulated – and I was a member of that policy working group. The pressure mounted when it went out to ballot in May, and further increased when the ballot was supported by 80% of those members voting. As voting is voluntary, it was a clear victory because those who strongly opposed it would have ensured they cast their votes.

But around the time of the circulation of the draft policy, I was approached by South Australian-based political party, Stop Population Growth Now (SPGN), and asked if I would find out if a letter from them might be published in the Democrats’ National Journal – that letter suggested the amalgamation of SPGN with the Democrats to strengthen our common base and form a new political party. I took this to the party’s National Executive and it was voted down. But, combined with the policy ballot, it seems it was the beginning of the end for me.

I was obviously never privy to the background plotting that led to a vote by the party’s National Executive just five weeks ago to declare Sustainable Population Australia Inc., of which I am National President, to be a political party - and it came as a complete surprise to me. The losers in the policy ballot had set things up for a swift counter-offensive. Payback was in order for the strong policy ballot result it seems – and big time!

The spokesperson who advised the media on Tuesday that I had been expelled, John Davey, is also the factional leader and puppet-master of the group which has taken this action. The conflict of interest between his means of earning an income, that of a migration agent, and working to take me down because of my determination to give primacy to the environment ahead of economic self-interest, seems not to have been recognised by his supporters and never acknowledged by him.

As a Democrat member said to me “this debacle has revealed itself for what it is - a fight between the growth-at-any-cost group and those who care about the future of our country and the world”. It’s a fight that is writ large elsewhere, a fight that will ultimately be lost by the growthists when the planet itself hits back. As the saying goes “Nature bats last”.

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It's good for the voters to have this serious conflict of interests within the Democrats exposed now and not after being voted. All politicians should take an oath that they will serve their country and their constituents to their best abilities, and any vested interests should be transparent and declared.

What we need is a clearing out of corruption in parliament, especially with regards to political donations and growth that is beyond our capability to sustain.

Population growth now will deny future generations the amenities, lifestyles, natural resources and living standards those of past generations had. The general principle should be that we leave this life, and our part of the world, in the same state it was when we were born.

This fight within the Democrats is a model of how political parties have become distorted by elitism, personal interests and greed. "Nature bats last"- but Nature will have the final victory as populations will decline - whether we want it or not.

Sandra, you are a person of great integrity, intelligence and courage and I can see more opportunities opening up than you know how to deal with. As a member of the Greens, I think our party could take a much stronger stand against population growth. Looking foward to to see your career blossom in the near future.

Under Kanck's leadership the SA Democrats vote has plumbed new lows (about 1% now). Her political judgement is, and it hurts to say it, a bit lacking! None in the party have taken responsibility for the Winderlich disaster. I don't know the current circumstances, but surely it is more likely that Kanck was pushed because she is one of the leaders who has led the party to ruin. The results from the last 10 years are self-evident. I am a sustainable population believer but some things need to grow - like the share of votes a party receives!

Dear Mt Gambier - It's not productive to use this website for a debate of the type you are beginning. The recent events are a reflection of what happens when a strong stance is taken against population growth and your view from the outside is very flawed. Let me know your e-mail address or phone number and we can have a discussion about it.