DESPITE illness ravaging its executive ranks, and a name change, Australia's only political party dedicated to the interests of mature voters continues to thrive on the Sunshine Coast.
Originally the Mature Age Party the Mature Australia Party has survived the retirement of its national head and its Sunshine Coast organiser in recent months to emerge with plans to use new-age sources to pursue funding.
The party changed its name to reflect great interest from middle-aged voters.
The Sunshine Coast branch with 400 members compares favourably with many established political parties here.
MAP will draw support from the 3.3 million Australians over the age of 65 with a focus on pensions and superannuation.
However it also sees growth in over-45s, which it considers as potentially having more to lose from what it describes as dysfunction in state and federal governments.
"This is their opportunity to shape their lifestyle and the democratic systems of government they want for themselves and to leave as a legacy ... governments and bureaucracies at all levels working for them, for their beliefs and needs not to their own agendas or the dictates of vested interests and power brokers who pull the strings," Coast branch president and Queensland media officer Brian Hale said.
The former New York correspondent for the Financial Review, the Sydney Morning Herald and Age, and Times of London, said health impacts were to be expected given the party's age.
Original national president Col Walker, a former political director of the Queensland National Party and a press secretary to both Russ Hinze and Joh Bjelke-Petersen, was forced to stand down due to his own then family illness, as was Coast president Warner Madden.
The party's national annual general meeting this weekend has also been postponed because of illness afflicting new national president Tony Snell.
"The Sunshine Coast is still the strongest area with 400 members, and there is a push on to attract more," Mr Hale said.
Australia's newest political party will use a crowd-sourcing website to raise funds, forging new ground in political fundraising at a time the spotlight is being increasingly being shone on donations to parties.
Mr Hale said MAP was uncertain of the success of the venture because such sites were mainly frequented by younger generations.
He said the party believed it was time to change the way Australia was run because the major parties had run up huge debt (a 53.4% increase in just five years) and would run huge deficits for years to come.
"The Mature Australia Party says that politicians, egged on by their supporters in think tanks, universities and lobby groups, are talking about 'reforms' to taxes but this is just a smokescreen for targeting the wallets of ordinary Australians because governments have been over- promising on benefits and under-delivering on revenues." Mr Hale said.
"The Federal Treasury says we already pay almost $500 billion a year through at least 125 different taxes but there is little focus on reducing government spending, just re-jigging the taxes we pay.
"It's well past time for change."
He said MAP's aim was "to promote, protect, secure and enhance our fundamental rights to equal and fair representation at all levels with the powers and rights of the people restored and entrenched .... instead of being restricted and transferred to elected minorities, as they are now".
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