The Australian Cyclists Party is at a pivotal point. We have now achieved our initial goal to contest in two state elections (NSW and Victoria) and the federal election in just three years.
In all three elections we stood in both upper and lower house contests and we also stood in a by-election and a local election. Australian Cyclist Party candidates have now contested in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia – a huge achievement given our very limited resources and short time in existence as a party.
On this journey we were able to gain the enthusiastic support of well over 2,000 members across every State and Territory. Remarkable figures that left many other minor parties in admiration and major parties wondering if we were a threat or opportunity?
Now we need to take stock and decide the future direction and even the viability of the party to go on as it is.
Our ambition was always one of impact – towards creating a cycling-friendly Australia – whether we gained a seat or not and we can all be satisfied that we have had an impact – not enough, but more than may have been achieved without our presence.
While it is impossible to directly link our existence and efforts to specific outcomes, we have clearly seen more attention to issues we have surfaced and other major cycling advocacy groups have thanked us for our contribution in raising issues and taking approaches that they could not. We have also seen the ALP and Greens both court our support and change policy emphasis. We have walked the halls of Parliaments and spoken at rallies, online and with mainstream media. We have collaborated and we have spoken up. Our Facebook site routinely attracts 5-10 thousand readers from Australia and all over the planet.
Most recently we have seen the NSW government approve the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge cycling ramp – an issue we have been pursuing since our launch. The government also backed down from imposing a Rider ID – an effort we combated working closely with Cycle and Bicycle Network. We have supported efforts at local and state levels and supported national initiatives.
For two years we did all of this strictly on the back of volunteer support and the generous donations from a handful of members or supporters. A dedicated crew of Committee members and of over 50 candidates have been fundamental to our success.
Over the last six months we began shifting to a paid membership with limited success.
The cost of just filing across multiple states and federally is a big task and an expensive one. To then also contest with additional fees is one that has tested us. Without the financial support of paid membership this is a significant challenge.
In addition, many of our current Committee members have been with us since the beginning and many indicated that they are ready to step back and let others take over. I have always signalled my intention to withdraw as President at this time to ensure renewal of leadership. Unfortunately, none of our members have stepped forward to replace any of us.
In short, the ACP now desperately needs a more stable financial base and for more people to be willing to take the reigns or for us to take a new approach.
There are many ways we could proceed from here, however, I believe they are fundamentally characterised by three approaches:
1. Wind-up the ACP
2. Have the ACP continue as an organisation to support cycling through political and online avenues but suspend further election participation (and associated expenses and need for resources)
3. The ACP continues to support cycling but merges its political efforts with another party with similar values and willing to take on all of our key policies
These options all have their positives and negatives but I believe that option 3 is the one that would most likely ensure that our efforts continue by managing the costs and properly resourcing the required election efforts. We would still be able to maintain our independent voice as an organisation.
Time to Decide
It is now time for members to have their voices heard with regard to our future and I will support a motion that we go to the membership with clear options to choose from based on the scenarios above. This motion will involve a process that will be outlined in the days ahead. We hope you will take part in this critical decision when it comes time to place your vote.
As always I remain indebted to the many who support us and in particular to the volunteers and Committee members who have given up their time to manage and promote the party and its goals.
Founder and President