Lance posted this revealing article up at Groupsects:
“Family First, the whirlwind political force that shook Australian politics six years ago, grabbing a key Senate seat and direct access to the Prime Minister’s office, appears to be on the brink of political collapse.
Its federal campaign is in chaos with a dumped candidate who supports gay marriage, a Twitter scandal and an alleged flirtation with the Australian Sex Party threatening the standing of the standard bearer of the religious right and its backing by well-financed evangelical churches.
Family First is struggling to repeat its stunning success of 2004. That year, the party’s federal branch raked in more than $1.6 million in donations and loans, but by June last year it was mired in more than $200,000 of debt, according to its financial statements. A taxpayer-funded party allowance accounted for most of its $19,792 income in 2008-09.
South Australian church figure Peter Harris, Family First’s one-time figurehead and financial backer, is facing financial woes after the $12.9 million collapse of his private company Hardel last year.
The party may soon be drawn into those troubles, as the company’s liquidators investigate a $153,000 debt the party allegedly owes Hardel’s unsecured creditors, several of whom, like Mr Harris, were Assemblies of God parishioners in Adelaide.
The deep pockets and political ambition of chairman and South Australian Senate candidate Bob Day, a residential property tycoon, may yet save Family First from financial collapse. Mr Day, 58, was a long-time Liberal who quit in 2008 after losing a preselection battle for the seat of Mayo.
But Family First is set to lose its one Victorian Senate seat , with Labor declining to repeat its 2004 tactic of preferencing Family First ahead of the Greens, a move which gifted Steve Fielding the state’s final Senate spot. Mr Day is rated only a slim chance to win a seat in South Australia.
Senator Fielding’s campaigns on issues as diverse as climate science, grocery prices and bank fees helped boost the party’s profile, but Family First’s attempts to paint itself as a credible mainstream force have been undermined by gaffes.
In June, Senator Fielding came under attack for an outburst about ”drug addicts and welfare cheats” rorting paid maternity leave with late-term abortions.
In recent weeks, the Australian Sex Party claimed Family First members tried to broker a preference deal between the two parties. It would have been a remarkable partnership between ideological antagonists.
A Twitter scandal was unleashed last Sunday, when Queensland Senate candidate Wendy Francis likened legitimising gay marriage to ”legalising child abuse”.
Then came the dumping of Family First’s candidate for the Victorian seat of La Trobe, David Barrow, who followed Mrs Francis’ anti-gay statements by declaring his support of same-sex marriage.
Mr Barrow is a self-styled anti-bank-fee activist who is suing the Commonwealth Bank over $60 of fees charged to his account. His platform is pro small business and anti big bank.
Mr Barrow first met Family First on July 16 to discuss running at the election. After an interview with two party officers at Senator Fielding’s Mount Waverley office, he was endorsed as the candidate for La Trobe a week later.
”They did not ask me about any of my personal values on abortion, euthanasia or family couples who are not a heterosexual man and a woman,” Mr Barrow said. ”I’m in an interview for an hour as a candidate and none of these questions are asked. Not one.”
Mr Barrow was given a ”core values questionnaire” – 18 questions to be answered with either a yes or no – canvassing his views on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and the teaching of ”values” in schools.
Mr Barrow, who has a degree in philosophy from Melbourne University, answered all questions, but did so in the presence of a justice of the peace, and provided caveats to each answer in a sworn affidavit, which was never given to Family First.
Mr Barrow’s tenure as a Family First candidate was brief – it came to an end on Monday night, hours after he posted declarations of support for gay marriage on the popular blog MamaMia – but has been embarrassing for the party.
Mr Barrow has documented his time with the party on his website, revealing how he was asked to recruit family and friends to man the booths on polling day. He likens this to a ”dodgy direct-marketing scheme rather than an organised political party”.
Mr Barrow said he was told the aim of the campaign in La Trobe was to get people on the ground distributing how-to-vote cards to aid the re-election of Senator Fielding.
In other seats, Family First candidates have reportedly refused to campaign at all, but will turn out on election day to man the booths.
Mr Barrow was also asked to provide his own ”campaign funding strategy”. The party’s latest financial disclosure suggests it has limited funds, with debts of almost $200,000 as of June 2009.
But Mr Day told The Sunday Age that ”the debt is to Family First executive members so it’s not a problem at all. It’s debt that has been there for quite some years.”
He said the 14-month-old Australian Electoral Commission filings did not reflect the party’s current financial state.
But Family First is now in danger of becoming embroiled in the financial troubles of Mr Harris. Mr Harris’s company, Hardel, was a major bankroller of the party in its early days – donating office space, administrative support and salaries as the party got off the ground, and handing over donations and loans worth tens of thousands of dollars, AEC records show.
But Mr Day said last week that Mr Harris was no longer involved with the party, ”and hasn’t been for many years”.
Mr Harris did not return calls from The Sunday Age.
Mr Harris is now attempting to salvage Hardel from liquidation through a company reconstruction, as Hardel’s liquidators, O’Brien Palmer, try to recover funds for Hardel’s creditors. Their avenues include a loan made by Hardel to Family First several years ago, that the party disputes and has so far refused to pay.
Family First’s latest AEC filing states that it owed Hardel $13,500 as of June last year. But O’Brien Palmer’s director of insolvency and reconstruction, Robert Ritchie, said the firm has since obtained evidence supporting the existence of a much larger debt.
Based on amended financial statements provided by Mr Harris in June, the liquidators now believe Family First owes Hardel’s creditors $153,000.
”On the basis that I’m satisfied that the debt is due to the company, I will seek to have the debt repaid,” Mr Ritchie said.
If Family First refused to acknowledge or repay the debt, Mr Ritchie said he might be left with ”no option but to commence legal proceedings to recover the debt”.
Mr Day said the party had written to O’Brien Palmer last year, ”and denied that we owe them the amount that they were claiming…….”
Some of you may have received this annoying email from some of your Christian friends. I wonder if this poorly researched Christian email wouldn’t help with the FFP either:
You also may like to see these areas explained a bit more indepth here:
The email with the above attachment is the latest to go circling around this current election. Prior to that, there was another one circling around the 2004 election. After digging in some of the archives of DogFightAtBankstown, I found a link to an article that talked about the first email that circulated:
Parties put to the Christian test
Would you like to know which parties support work for the dole, oppose euthanasia and support prayers to open Parliament?
Christian lobbyists have prepared a card comparing the parties on 26 moral issues.
Australia’s moral direction is more important than its economic one, according to Peter Stokes, executive officer of Salt Shakers. “It’s not good to go broke. But if the country breaks down morally the rest will follow, and we see that in society now,” he said yesterday.
Mr Stokes said the guide was prepared mostly by Salt Shakers, Bill Muehlenberg of the Australian Federation for the Family, and former SAS chief Jim Wallace, who heads the Australian Christian Lobby. Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats and Family First have a perfect score, while the Greens and Democrats score zero. The Liberals get 16, with one question mark (either no stated policy or a conscience vote); Labor scores nine with two question marks.
Issues include affirming marriage over de facto cohabitation, stopping Medicare funding of abortion, opposing heroin trials and overturning ratification of the International Criminal Court.
Social justice issues such as refugees are not canvassed. “We felt that if we put out what we think is a Christian perspective, we’d alienate half the Christian community,” Mr Stokes said.
Also I’ve compiled some of Saint’s resource that used to belong at DogFightAtBankstown that spoke of the Christian Family First Party’s political involvement. These old resources are a very insightful read. Click below to download: