That is the question we often hear. Sometimes people think that’s a good thing and sometimes they don’t.
Our approach is far from being single-issue. It does mean caring for cycling – but also taking a significant stake in transport, health, environment, climate change, education, tourism, boarder economic priorities, and urban planning policies. We can’t improve the issues that hold back or promote cycling without also addressing these issues. A healthy cycling culture reflects a balanced view across many community issues.
If we step back and look at the formation of parliaments under the Australian Constitution (based on the Westminster system) we would note that there was never a special commitment reserved for having just a couple of major parties. In fact, the first parliaments were made up of local representatives with a broad spectrum of individual special interests. They were all essentially “independents”.
Eventually parties formed, split, re-formed, etc. around issues of the day to allow leverage through numbers. Sometimes ideological (Socialist, Democratic, Communist, Libertarian); sometimes social or religious and sometimes thematic (Farmers, Labor, Greens) or very specific interests (mining, taxes, sex, euthanasia); sometimes just for convenience in order to get bills passed. At times social or economic status has been exploited by a party.
One could argue that groups in society that felt marginalised sought representation as a way to have their voices heard – even disproportionate to their true numbers. Mature democracies tend to balance majority power with minority interests. Clearly there was and continues to be cross-over on these alignments and thereby the ongoing building of coalitions – as in the current Coalition – in order to secure power.
What the Cyclists Party intends on being is a party that focuses on a common interest that bridges ideologies and works on issues that are interrelated using cycling as our touchstone. Our constituents are of all ages, social, economic and ethnic groups and across classic political divides. What over 99% of them have in common – beyond their passion for cycling – is that they have never been a member of a political party. They believe strongly that a party representing cycling and cyclists is needed. We believe their membership is a healthy sign of engagement.
This is why we have selected a Reference and Advisory Panel that will help create the policies that cover cycling issues but implicitly affect much more. These priorities and specific approaches is are what we will take to the next elections.
Few parties register – never mind win – a seat their first time out (unless you have a bit of luck or gazillions in the bank) so our aspirations include to affect change by just being there highlighting relevant issues. We may influence an outcome, we may even gain a seat.
We are a single-issue party in name but not outlook.