Julia Melland laments the demise of the Democrats in Federal Parliament yesterday, but she is refusing to let things go.
Julia Melland laments the demise of the Democrats in Federal Parliament yesterday, but she is refusing to let things go. The Northern Star

Never give up

JULIA Melland, a member of the Democrats since it began, is not giving up on Don's party.

Yesterday, the party founded by Don Chipp 31 years ago, ceased to exist in the Federal Parliament, with its last four senators either dumped or retiring at the last election.

Ms Melland, of Goonellabah, has stood as a Democrats candidate in the State seat of Lismore and for the Lismore City Council. Last year she stood as a Democrat in the Federal seat of Page.

But she is not ready to bury the party yet.

“I think the Democrats could come back. Politics is quite whimsical and we've been in it for a long time,” Ms Melland said.

And while pundits compose funeral dirges for the party, Ms Melland is not alone in holding out for a revival. Retiring Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja yesterday said she, too, believed the party would return.

Ms Melland said there was a lot to be proud of – a party with excellent values that championed inclusion and embraced diversity.

“We really changed the face of Australian politics. We are rational people interested in all perspectives and we're not carrying any agenda other than democracy,” she said.

Ms Melland said the Democrats' unique approach had given Australians better laws.

“There is still plenty to do and the electorate might remember what we gave them after they have experienced a Rudd Labor Government for a while,” she said.

Ms Melland said the major parties operated in a way that was all about their power base, and not necessarily to the benefit of the community.

“Our weakness was not playing that political game astutely,” she said. “The improvements made to legislation made for better laws and we got results for our efforts in reviews and through negotiation. We made all governments improve their policies. That's of no benefit to us politically and that's the difference.”

Ms Melland is contesting the Lismore City Council elections in September.

“I'm not sure whether I'll be standing as a Democrat or an independent,” she said.



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