RIP ADVP

In mid 2015, CONTACT received a ‘Press Statement’ from an entity called the Australian Defence Veteran’s Party, announcing it had just been registered by the Australian Electoral Commission.

And so commenced a short-lived relationship between CONTACT and the ADVP that, in the end, only went so far as accepting their paid advertising and their official press releases.

Early on, they asked CONTACT for support in light of me (Editor Brian Hartigan) being a veteran, with a large audience of mainly serving or ex-serving ADF.

I was actually flattered – and initially excited. I always had a bit of a penchant for politics and thought getting involved with the ADVP could be the opportunity I always dreamt of.

So they sent me their ‘Policy Document’ to review, both as a professional editor and as a potential media partner and member.

But my bubble was immediately burst.

What I read was abysmal in every way – style, tone, tenor, scope, aspiration.

It honestly ‘felt’ like it had been written by a bunch of blokes sitting around a table asking each other, “what’s the most popular stance on this” as they thumbed through all the topical headlines from that day’s Daily Mail (at least that’s how I imagined it as I read the document).

And I told them so….

Hi Guys,

I promised to have a good look at your policy document – so I have.

As a preamble, let me just say that I am a veteran (of INTERFET and RAMSI), a sergeant in the Army who continues to serve after 12 years full time and 13 year Reserve – and I have long held an ambition to serve as a politician, but never had the opportunity, the resources or the right platform to do anything about it.

So when a veteran’s party came along, my excitement grew – until I read your policies document.

I think this is a case where it is best if I am cruel – but only to be kind.

Initially, it came down to the basics, I’m afraid. 

As a professional writer and editor, a quick read of your ‘Policies’ document is very off-putting from the outset.

The following comes in no particular order…

Throughout the document there are several statements along the lines “The ADVP will ensure…”  In my opinion, to use the phrase “will ensure” sets up your party for certain failure from the outset.  As a minority party elected to Parliament, your ability to “ensure” that something happens is dependant on a lot of things, not least of which is getting elected, playing politics with the big parties and influencing enough other politicians to see things your way.  There is no way that the ADVP can “ensure” anything all by itself – unless, of course, you suddenly become the majority party – or hold the balance of power.  The best you can hope for is to “work tirelessly in an effort to achieve” – or something along those lines.

BTW – you used the word ‘ensure’ 50 times.

Your document needs a good going over by a good editor (and I’m not volunteering).  For example, under the heading “The Application and Assessment Process” on page 2, I can count 14 errors of spelling, grammar, punctuation or syntax in just 18 lines of text.  And that sample is actually indicative of the standard throughout the rest of the document.  That’s hardly flattering for a professional political party hoping to gain the trust and votes of the Australian people.

On the bottom of page 3 under the heading “Outcomes”, the word “repatriated” is used where clearly it should say rehabilitated. Repatriation is the process of returning a person to their place of origin or citizenship.

On a related issue – the word reasonableness is actually a legitimate English-language word. I see no legitimate reason to present it hyphenated and in inverted commas (‘reasonable-ness’ – in the fourth dot point on page 2).

On page 2 your stated policy is to combine the best parts of the VEA and SRCA and keep the MRCA as a standalone act. On page 8 your policy has suddenly changed to “the unification of VEA, MRCS and SRCA” (with MRCA spelt wrong).

Now this next bit relates mostly to the myriad of peripheral policy statements you make…

As someone who has worked in Canberra on the periphery of politics, I get the overall feeling that you guys are out of your depth and overly naive.  I know that might sound harsh – but I truly do intend to be cruel only to be kind – and hope you take my observations on board as constructive criticism and go forward to bigger and better things.

In your Foreign Affairs Policy you state “Alliance with the United States will continue”  To me that’s a statement of fact, which is just about 100% totally outside your control as a minor political party and remains true whether or not you even exist.  If it is your policy to “support the continuing alliance…” then say it as such.

In your Terrorism policy statement you say “The ADVP will introduce into Parliament stricter visa conditions”  Well, as I understand it, you cannot introduce ‘stricter vias conditions’ – but you could “…introduce into Parliament, a Bill that will seek to impose stricter visa conditions…”

BTW – you can only introduce a Bill into parliament if you are elected – therefore, your policies need to reflect your position in all circumstances.

Security arrangements at “all entry points regardless of their size” is just ludicrous in terms of either the actual need, the practicality or the ridiculous costs involved – in my humble opinion.

Under the heading Australian Federal Police you say the ADVP have the same goal – protecting Australia. I’m sorry – I thought your stated goal/aim was to represent veterans.

Or perhaps not – because you also say “We are a Party … that will represent ALL Australians not just those with specific or vested interests” – despite the fact that ‘Veterans’ as a group are a vested interest by definition.

BTW – representing ALL Australian’s is also contradictory to the statement of why the ADVP was formed in the first place, as outlined in your press release in your earlier email.

Stating that you will represent ALL Australians is, in my opinion, no more than a political-correctness inclusivity statement – which is surely contrary to your stated policy on political correctness.

Besides, you can’t possibly represent ALL Australians. You would have to assume that those Australians who will never vote for you don’t actually want you to represent them – or those people who hold the opposite policy to your policy couldn’t be represented by you.

Under Freedom of Speech, your preamble says “…Australia does not have legislation to protect the right to freedom of speech.”  – yet your stated policy on this is “The ADVP supports all current legislation regarding freedom of speech.”

Look, there are dozens of things I cringed at in your general policies list – too may to go through in detail.

Hopefully you get the gist of the level of criticism I’ve outlined in the few examples above.

Just take it as read that I have the same or similar issues with just about every statement you’ve made – or the way you’ve said it.

It’s not that I disagree with all your ‘policies’ – it’s just that this entire document is badly written, ill-considered and naive – in my humble opinion as a professional writer/editor – and a veteran with political aspirations.

And, of course, I stress that all this is just my opinion, which you are free to bin, burn, spit upon ––– or take as it was intended ––– constructive criticism.

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I bring this to light today simply because I was reminded of this sad hiccup in Australia’s political history after someone commented ‘count me in’ on the now two-year-old story announcing the party’s registration – and had to tell this man that the ADVP doesn’t exist any more – deregistered on 8 February 2017, just 18 months after being registered as a political party.

I take no pleasure in (sort of) saying “I told you so” (because, technically, I told no one except the ADVP (and a few close friends over beers) what I really thought).

But I am saying I saw no future in this venture from day one.

And I’m truely sorry about that.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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