Time for a break

The Annual National Congress is due to be run in July. After careful consideration, I have decided not to recontest any position on the National Council this year and take a break from politics.

It takes a lot of work to develop a self-sustaining political party, and eventually we all need to take a step back to reflect on many years of hard work, while taking a break to recover from the very physical and emotional toll that day-to-day political work has on a person.

This has been an extremely difficult year for the Party, but with the small but robust group of volunteers we have, we were able to get a lot done.

We were required to respond to an onslaught of bad legislation that seemed as if the Government simply read our policy set and did the extreme opposite. That legislation included: “national security” bills, Internet censorship bills, data retention bills, bills to end freedom of information in Australia, and several treaty implementation reviews. We were on the back foot for most of the year because of this.

I would like to take a moment here to single out Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer for praise, as he was the person who put in 99% of the effort into all of those submissions. Without workers like him, the Party is nothing. We need more volunteers like him.

We also spent time attempting to repair relations with Pirate Parties International and build an organisation the movement could be proud of. Unfortunately, the good faith was wasted, and the personal toll of wasted effort still lingers over me in an unexplainably negative way. Fortunately, there are renewed efforts of some parties to collaborate, which has not been seen for many years. This is an excellent development and it is very promising.

The Party is in an enviable position insofar as minor parties are concerned in the Australian political context. We continue on a steady growth trajectory, with a well-developed and unique policy set and are uncompromising in our integrity. The diligence and responsiveness of the member base when a response is needed is second to none, and cohesion has never been a problem for us.

Going forward there are still unresolved challenges for the Party. We still need to finish developing our technical infrastructure. We need to build a stronger and more obvious narrative, and a strong volunteer engagement strategy.

Particularly, a strong volunteer management strategy needs to be established, but strategy alone is not enough to solve the issue. The most pressing issue in my mind is time availability—we cannot sustain this level of activity without strongly considering taking on paid employees to manage the day-to-day bureaucracy and outreach necessary to push the Party to the next level.

Ideally, we should never be in a situation where anybody in this party is required to work as hard as I have over the last few years—the work needs to be better spread around and that requires more hands on deck.

This would give us the breadth to build the consistent narrative that the Party members all feel but cannot easily communicate due to the detailed nature of our policies and the effort required to bring it all together into an easily-digestible message and set of resources (websites, booklets, flyers, etc). It is especially for this reason that I believe we have hit our limits of where a volunteer-only party can take us.

I have enjoyed my time as Secretary, a Councillor, a candidate for election to the Senate, and now as your President. I will remain involved as an ordinary member, and in an advisory capacity should the next National Council wish to engage me for such purposes to ensure no loss of institutional knowledge.

I am particularly excited to observe the development of state branches and our potential for success in local elections around the country.

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve the Party since 2010 and your continued support over the years, and I look forward to seeing new talent join the National Council this year!