Many of us have a vision for a better world though feel powerless to make this happen. Voices of Boothby is about changing that. We are not a political party, and we don’t represent any political candidates. We are a non-partisan, pro-democracy community group within the electorate of Boothby.
Our aim is to encourage and enable candidates who embrace our principles and vision for us all and act in good faith on behalf of their community.
Sixty years ago, 10% of Australians were a member of a political party. Today, that number has fallen to less than 1% and there is good reason for it. In her book “Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up”, Gabrielle Chan, documents that many voters in rural seats across Australia feel that the major political parties, who were once baked into the fabric of society, have long since become detached. Rather, their focus has shifted to the demands of wealthy political donors (Chan, 2018).
The 3 major political parties (ALP, LNP, and the Nationals) have become increasingly beholden to industries such as mining and resources, banking, and pharmaceuticals because of the very substantial financial contributions these industries provide and as many politicians will tell you: there is no such thing as a free lunch. In short they don’t get donations of near $100 million dollars because they like the cut of their suits.
This revolving door of political donations and corporate lobbying has been thoroughly documented by former editor of The Australian and investigative journalist, Michael West, who has uncovered how donations to the two major Australian political parties tripled between the 2016 and 2019 federal elections (West). You can read it here:
This puts us on a track similar to the USA, where their democracy has become infiltrated by the influence of corporate lobby groups to the extent that public opinion has virtually no effect on which legislation is passed (Jacob Kornbluth, 2017).
This is clearly an erosion of democracy and a path that Australia finds itself heading down. Unless we can find a way to elect representatives who are willingly answerable to the communities they are elected to represent, the future for all of us (them included) is grim.
To do that we want to engage people in the issues that affect us all and create a voice that results in representation that truly expresses who we are, and we want you to join us.
What are we going to do?
Reclaiming Australian Democracy using Grassroots Organisations
Among the noise of the 2013, 2016 and 2019 elections, it was easy to miss a quiet revolution emerging from within two electorates in the Australian federal parliament.
The seats of Indi in Victoria and Warringah in North Sydney produced upset victories for independent candidates Cathy McGowan (Indi, 2013 and 2016), Helen Haines (Indi, 2019) and Zali Steggall (Warringah, 2019).
These independent candidates were each backed by separate, grassroots movements that sought to organise volunteers and donors en masse, prior to their respective successful campaigns.
In seeking to replicate this success residents from the Boothby electorate and its encompassing LGAs have set out to emulate models used by previous independent groups to help get more community minded candidates elected at the local, state and federal levels of government.
Kitchen Table Conversations (KTCs)
It was established in 2020 that the key to the success of these independents was to go directly to voters to find out what they want to see changed or preserved in their community, their state, and the country and the Voices of Boothby project was born.
The stage was set for a campaign of round-table discussions, known as Kitchen Table Conversations, conducted by volunteer facilitators.
The Kitchen Table Conversation model of community consultation was borrowed from ‘Voices of Warringah’ and ‘Voices 4 Indi’ and was developed by the ‘Victorian Women’s Trust’. We acknowledge and thank them for their pioneering work.
KTC’s are a way to bring people together in a safe environment to discuss opinions on issues that matter to each voter.
Anyone can participate. Hosts and facilitators invite groups of 2-8 participants, including friends, neighbours, family, workmates, or people known from community networks to their house, or to a local café where the KTC is held over a cup of coffee.
During the course of the 2020-2021 KTCs the following questions were discussed:
• What are the main issues in your community / electorate?
• What makes a good political representative?
• What are the best things about where you live?
• What makes a strong community?
Over the course of the last year in which KTCs were held, several members of Voices of Boothby acted as facilitators and note takers and continue to do so, recording the thoughts and opinions of the participants.
We encourage you to join us and to take part in one of these conversations. We want to know what you think. It is very easy. Simply contact us on the link provided and we will be in touch to let you know the most convenient time and place for you.
Voices of Boothby acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which we conduct our activities, the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains, and we pay our respects to elders past and present.