For 30 years, the Australian Democrats were the party that provided a real alternative to the two majors. They held the balance of power in the Senate, and were committed to ‘keeping the bastards honest’. They fought for the environment, were economically responsible without losing a social conscience, and rather than being arbitrary ‘blockers’ in the Senate, they were committed to negotiating government legislation to make sure that whatever got through, was in the best interests of the Australian public.

From the very outset our Party was ahead of the pack, looking at evidence and science to inform political ideas that were well ahead of their time. Whether it be promoting environmental action, drug law reform, or equality for same sex attracted / gender diverse people, the Australian Democrats were talking about it well before the other parties were ready to vote on it. The Australian Democrats also has a strong tradition of female leadership, both as heads of the Party and in Parliament.

Undoubtedly, in the 2000s, the Australian Democrats lost their way and saw them leave the political scene for almost a decade, with parliament poorer for it. However this hiatus has allowed the Party a chance to reflect and rebuild, with the view of changing just what a political party, and even politics itself can look like.

This new generation of the Australian Democrats, guided by our heritage, is determined to build on what has always made this Party great – a commitment to people, and a sensible approach to policy.

While drawing from our history, now we have a new vision. One that rejects the political divisions based on ‘left’ and ‘right’ and is committed to moving forward, together. This means recognising difference and disagreement, and not being afraid of it. We can have robust, respectful discussions; we can ultimately disagree on some things, but we can still find a way to work together.

We are a nation of diverse peoples. From many cultures, faiths, backgrounds and beliefs, sharing this nation together. Some political voices are intent to divide us to score political points or win votes, to the detriment of the nation. But the politics of kindness and collaboration is possible, when we value each others’ life experiences and are committed to truly listening and finding common ground.

This is a new chapter. A new imagining. And the time has never been more right.