Powell impressed with NZ Alliance

November 25, 1992

By Peter Boyle

MELBOURNE — Independent Senator Janet Powell described the November 21-22 conference of the New Zealand Alliance, which she attended as an observer, as "really magnificent" and an inspiration for people active on the progressive end of the political spectrum in Australia.

Powell told Green Left that the first-past-the-post electoral system in NZ probably helped bring the Alliance together because it made it harder for independent and small party candidates to win some seats in elections. But in addition there was a real sense of "new politics" at the conference.

"To actually get to the conference and see and feel the way in which the cooperative approach has been achieved was incredible".

Politics was usually "full of egos", said Powell, but in the Alliance they were being subsumed in the broader interest — something she had never seen before in politics.

"The were some pretty strong characters at the Alliance conference but they were not leaping up and dominating the platform".

There was also a willingness to subdue group egos. This was apparent in the discussions about leadership of the Alliance and the selection of candidates. Each party in the Alliance retained their own organisation and and policies, while genuinely working together.

Powell said that this contrasted with her major disappointment at not being able to bring the Australian Democrats and Greens together in the last 18 months because "party ego prevailed over the very principles that prompted the setting up of the Democrats".

Inspired by the NZ experience, Powell hopes to be able to help "do the same thing on a smaller scale in Victoria". She wants to co-operate with a broad range of green and progressive candidates in the coming federal elections. n

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