Country Party branding battle brews

20 Jan, 2015 01:00 AM
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NSW grazier Peter Mailler.
The selected name could raise objections from the Nationals during the official registration process
NSW grazier Peter Mailler.

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.

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FarmOnline
Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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READER COMMENTS

Farmer
20/01/2015 5:29:58 AM

Good grief, if you are stuck on this then how effective as a coherent alternative are you going to be. The message is already being drowned out with noise. Change the word country to Rural and get on with it or sink into the sunset like so many others. That would be a shame!
Pete Mailler
20/01/2015 9:14:44 AM

The name of the Party is not and will not be the determinant of its success. Obviously there are some who will seek to rely on the Country Party brand and the brand aligns with who we seek to genuinely represent. We were aware that once we were visible, the name would be contested. If by the time we register with the AEC, the opportunity for the country name is gone, then we will consult with our members and choose another. Rest assured, the important thing about the proposed Country Party of Australia will be cultural and it will not be defined by it name.
Parlare
20/01/2015 11:49:39 AM

Country Alliance chose not to use the Country Party name four years ago - for fear of upsetting the Nats - so why change it all of a sudden? An effort to cash in on the media the new party is getting?
Farmer Joe
20/01/2015 11:56:42 AM

So the Country Alliance lacked the gumption to stand up to Nationals four years ago and as soon as someone does have the courage they want to cash in on it and pretend they are the same. If you look at the ACA web site it says We believe in the right to recreational activities such as camping, fishing, boating, 4x4, prospecting and shooting. Farmers are an afterthought at best. Doesn't sound like the Country Party to me. Changing the ACA name won't make it a Country Party and will only hurt the real effort to create one.
Graingrower
20/01/2015 1:42:21 PM

I am sure people will see that Daneili is showing his true colours as a political light weight. No vision, no values and no idea. If the country alliance is a credible force they would have stood their ground four years ago. Daneili has tried to personally capitalise on something that the country alliance flirted with, courage.
Bilby
20/01/2015 1:48:04 PM

Storm in a teacup. Mailler is right, but it would be a shame for the legitimate Party of the two to be deprived of the name. I encourage the Country Alliance to leave the name alone and stand on their own merits with the name they already have. Changing your name won't win you an extra vote, but undermining the new Party this way might cost you a fair few.
Grumpy
20/01/2015 2:52:58 PM

Bilby is right, the Country Alliance should beware of what they wish for.This will be seen for what it is, a poor attempt by the Country Alliance to muddy the water on what is not an issue. The timing of Mr Danieli's actions shows a poorly hidden agenda. Which goes to show how out of touch with Country Australia Mr Daneili is.
Darren Cooper
20/01/2015 3:44:37 PM

The ACA are seen as the alternative to the Nats since broadening their policy base 12 months ago and transforming from CA. A possible change was already being moved upon before learning of Pete's organisation and not "cashing in" on the media. As "A Country party for Country People" slogan has been around for some years it shows which direction they were heading. Dialogue is now open to both organisations who both stand for the same issues and seeing some have already served together before, why compete against each other? As Pete was KAP, so were members of ACA who broadened ACA in Victoria
Bewildered
20/01/2015 5:10:07 PM

How is it that the Country Alliance intends to hold its head up. This is the most appalling political opportunism that shows no real commitment or regard for rural and regional Australia. They will never get my vote now.
Brian Mills
20/01/2015 6:18:16 PM

Pete and his friends have a difficult job to go through the hoops and arrive at an acceptable name. Whatever the name, there is a huge groundswell of support for the concept and the potential results.
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