Nic Christensen | The Wire

Vote 1 for Family First

A sign from 2007; it's always been family first. Image: Kat

In the last two weeks, Family First faced criticism after its Queensland Senate Candidate was caught on Twitter likening homosexual partners to child abusers, and the party pulled their endorsement for a candidate due to its pro-abortion stance. All this while the party was accused of trying to strike a preference deal with the Sex Party.

Talks now circulate that they are likely to lose not only the balance of power in the senate but also the party’s only senate seat at the federal elections on August 21.

Family First’s advertising has sought to highlight this by making some outlandish statements against the Greens.

One such statement is: “Family First needs your first preference vote to ensure there’s a strong alternative. So the choice is yours – you can either support the Greens who want to put heroin injecting rooms on every street corner or you can make your vote count and give it to Family First.”

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But Bob Day, National Chairman of Family First and South Australia senate candidate, states that they are not running against the Greens.

“Family First has been campaigning on its own policies which have no regards for what the Greens policies. They do their own thing, we do ours,” he says.

“Our starting point is that families come first and we believe that families should be at the centre of the Australian way of life, not government bureaucracies.”

But in reality the party is very much embodied by its leader Steve Fielding who has developed a reputation for stunts and blunders such as his confusion in spelling fiscal, leading to an unlikely F-I-S-K-A-L.

Editor of The Punch, David Penberthy, says, “In some ways, I think you’ve got to sort of feel sorry for the bloke because he probably never sort of thought he’d go into politics and end up having the power of life and death over some of the biggest policies of the day which is exactly what has ended up happening”.

Many argue that the senator Fielding selection was an accident.

Political commentator Malcolm Mackerras explains, “The outlandish result occurred in Victoria in 2004 where the Family First party was able to gather tickets from just about everywhere… This is a fluke. And I’ve always referred to Senator Steve Fielding as the Fluke Senator”.

But he believes that it is unlikely to happen again.

“At this election, I don’t think Family First has any chance whatever of winning any senate seats at all… All the parties who helped them to get in last time have now pitted against them,” he says.

Despite this Family First holds a strong support base, especially in South Australia.

“Well it seems to come from outer metropolitan areas most strikingly but also rural areas to some extent,” says Mr Mackerras.

“They are probably religious people and they don’t particularly like the liberal party because they think of the liberal party as being the party of the wealthy’

But according to editor Mr Penberthy the reality of modern secular politics has been the party’s downfall.

“If you’ve sort of spent your entire life taking your cue from the Bible on social policy – yeah that’s all well and good but it doesn’t necessarily equip you for some fairly big and expensive and obviously secular or scientific policies which have caused them quite a bit of trouble over the past eighteen months.”

Nic Christensen is a reporter for The Wire.