CONJECTURE is mounting over the naming rights for an emerging political movement that’s aiming to challenge the National party’s grip on rural Australia and farming.
Former Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) NSW Senate candidate and NSW farmer Peter Mailler is fronting a new political regime that wants to better represent farmers and regional Australians.
Mr Mailler is aiming to secure the 500 members needed to officially register the Country Part of Australia (CPA) with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
The selected name could raise objections from the Nationals during the official registration process, having been known as the Australian Country Party from its inception in 1920 to 1975 when the name altered to National Country Party.
But another budding rural political force - the Australian Country Alliance – believes it also has strong claims to the CPA brand-title while sharing almost identical political beliefs.
Two Country Party names registered
After Fairfax Media revealed details of Mr Mailler’s plans on December 24, Country Alliance upper house candidate at the recent Victorian state election for the Northern Victoria Region, Robert Danieli, registered the CPA name with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).
An ASIC search reveals the business name was formally registered on December 25 last year, while another title - the Australian Country Party - was registered the day before.
The registrations were made under the banner of Mr Danieli’s business – KY Stockfeeds – located at Kyabram, Victoria.
ASIC records show the address for service of documents was a PO Box in Queensland, which Mr Danieli said was his accountant’s address.
The Alliance’s website says it is “dedicated to the interests of both rural and urban communities and setting policies to address the imbalance that has come about with the influence of 'urban greenies'.”
Speaking to Fairfax Media, Mr Danieli said he registered the CPA name with ASIC because the Alliance does promote itself “under that banner” while the other registration offered a similar brand option.
“It was a step I took as an interim measure, not as a party thing but as an individual, to reserve our right to do something under those names,” he said.
Mr Danieli said the Alliance shared “overlapping principles” with the old Country Party and with Mr Mailler’s new political regime.
“It’s going to be an interesting situation to see how the different parties position themselves but we have been talking about this for a while now,” he said.
Country Alliance secretary Darren Cooper said his political party originally considered using the CPA name when the Alliance was first registered four years ago - but chose another title due to fears the Nationals would “froth at the mouth”.
Mr Cooper said the Alliance was formally registered to run candidates in federal electorates and in Victoria.
He said the Alliance was due to hold a special general meeting near Melbourne on January 31, where members would debate potentially changing the name to the CPA.
Mr Cooper said any name change would be a relatively simple step to take with the AEC.
But he stressed the decision had to be made by members and that Mr Mailler’s CPA was still a plan and not yet an officially registered party.
“There’s no race on for the CPA name because we’re already a registered party but we’d prefer to work with Peter Mailler rather than against him,” he said.
United they stand
Mr Cooper said it would be a “no-brainer” for the Alliance and CPA to work together, rather than try and build two political forces for the bush, with similar views and agendas.
He said he was open to holding discussions about working together with Mr Mailler’s group, which seemed to be operating out of Queensland and NSW.
“We’re willing to talk with Peter Mailler and his people; we’ve both got similar views,” he said.
Mr Cooper said he joined the Alliance early last year after having also been involved with the KAP leading up to the 2013 federal election as its Victorian secretary.
The Victorian truck-driver and hobby-farmer said he joined the Alliance at the same time as Mr Danieli, in early 2014.
Mr Danieli was touted as a Kyabram businessman and former Campaspe Shire councillor who was also the KAP’s federal Senate candidate in Victoria, at the 2013 election.
Mr Cooper said Mr Danieli almost clinched an upper house seat at last year's Victorian State election, for the Alliance, falling just short on preferences.
He said like Mr Mailler’s group, the Alliance was also disgruntled with the Coalition’s capacity to represent rural Australians.
“We have a growing interest in the Southern Riverina on the Victorian border but anywhere there are Nationals, we have an interest,” he said.
Mr Danieli said he quit the KAP in early 2014, at a similar time to Mr Mailler, following their unsuccessful Senate bids and believed their political ideas “overlap”.
“If you look at what Peter Mailler has said (about the CPA) and what we said in the lead up to the Victorian election, you’ll see we’re virtually singing from the same hymn book and we’ve got the same beliefs,” he said.
“If the Nationals were really representing rural and regional Australians, we wouldn’t even be talking about this stuff and I wouldn’t be in another political party.”
No stoush over name
Mr Mailler said he wasn’t overly concerned about potentially losing the CPA title and would crowd-source a new name, if and when required.
“If people think the Country Party of Australia is a good name and they want to see it exist, they should join us,” he said.
“Since our plans have been unveiled publicly before Christmas, there’s been an overwhelming amount of support and encouragement for what we’re trying to achieve.”
However, this week, National party deputy-leader Barnaby Joyce returned fire at the CPA challenge saying he welcomed competition but his party’s existing power base could not be ignored.