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The Opposition Leader As A Factor Influencing Voting Behaviour

Australia’s parliamentary elections are increasingly focused around perceptions and packaging of the leaders of the various parties.

The election of Senator Natasha Stott Despoja as the leader of the Australian Democrats in 2001 was an indication of the importance political parties place on leadership as a determinant of the voting patterns of electors.

Prime Minister John Howard’s attacks on Kim Beazley’s supposed lack of “ticker” in the 1998 election was another indication that Opposition leadership can be a factor in elections. [Read more…]

Stott Despoja Calls For Constitutional and Political Reforms

The Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, has called for a range of constitutional and political reforms.

Stott Despoja’s call came in her speech to the Senate’s Centenary of Federation sitting in Melbourne.

Text of speech by the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, to the Senate’s Centenary of Federation Sitting in Melbourne.

Stott DespojaOn behalf of the Australian Democrats I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Wurundjeri people.

I thank the previous speakers for their contributions.

The Australian Democrats congratulate the oldest party in the parliament, the Australian Labor Party on the centenary of their caucus. [Read more…]

Stott Despoja Defeats Lees To Take Democrats Leadership; Youngest Ever Party Leader In Australia

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja has been elected as the new leader of the Australian Democrats.

DemocratsThe 31-year-old Senator becomes the youngest person ever to lead a major political grouping in Australia.

Stott Despoja defeated Senator Meg Lees who has led the party since 1997, after the former leader, Cheryl Kernot, defected to the Labor Party.

Senator Aden Ridgeway has been elected as the new deputy leader.

In a ballot of Australian Democrats’ members, Stott Despoja polled a majority of the vote. The Australian Democrats is unique because it allows ordinary party members to elect the parliamentary leadership. Approximately 3000 members of the party were eligible to vote. It is believed that about 2500 members cast a vote.

Senator Stott Despoja becomes the seventh person to lead the Australian Democrats since its formation in 1977. She is the fourth leader from South Australia. [Read more…]

Democrats’ Leadership Contest Causing Bitterness

The battle between Australian Democrats Leader, Senator Meg Lees, and her challenger, Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, has grown increasingly bitter following an intervention by the party’s founder.

Former Senator Don Chipp, who founded the party in 1977 and served as its leader until 1986, on Sunday called for the Democrats’ membership to elect the 31-year-old South Australian senator.

Chipp claimed that it was possible that One Nation might control the balance of power in the Senate after this year’s federal election. He argued that this could only be resisted by a revitalised Australian Democrats led by Stott-Despoja.

Lees must go, Chipp argued, to save her party and to save Australia. [Read more…]

Democrats’ Leader Meg Lees Faces Challenge

Senator Meg Lees, leader of the Australian Democrats, the party that holds the balance of power in the Senate, is to face a challenge from her deputy, Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja.

LeesThe party’s National Executive is likely to call for a ballot, either at its scheduled May meeting, or at a specially convened earlier meeting.

It is possible Senator Lees may opt to vacate the leadership in order to allow an immediate resolution of the conflict that has been bubbling beneath the surface of the party for some time now.

Lees has come under criticism for the deal she struck with the Howard government over the GST and a general perception that the party is too close to the government. [Read more…]

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (Dem-SA) – First Speech

This is the text of Senator Natasha Stott Despoja’s First Speech to the Senate.

Stott Despoja was appointed to a South Australian casual vacancy in November 1995. She replaced a former leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator John Coulter. At 26, she was the youngest woman ever to sit in the Australian Parliament.

Stott Despoja was elected in her own right in 1996 and 2001. She was leader of the party in 2001-2002. The Democrats were in decline at this stage and did not win any seats at either the 2004 or 2007 elections. When Stott Despoja and three others finished their terms on June 30, 2008, thirty years of parliamentary representation of the Australian Democrats came to an end. [Read more…]