Real Progressives

Episode 141 – The New Liberals with Steve Keen & Victor Kline

This week we’re checking in with a couple of candidates from The New Liberals (TNL) of Australia. We’ll be learning about the traditional Australian political parties and getting an overview of how their electoral system works.

Steve Keen is an old friend of this podcast. In the past he’s joined us to talk about everything from climate change to Marx to the breakdown of supply chains during the COVID pandemic. Now we’re meeting him as a political candidate; soon Professor Keen will be Senator Keen. Victor Kline, the leader and one of the founders of TNL, is running for a seat in the House of Representatives.

TNL is only two years old but has already gained wide support. Unlike the US, where third parties have been almost entirely shut out of national elections, Australia’s preferential voting system and parliamentary style of government have made it possible for TNL to gain traction.

Voting is mandatory in Australia, which Keen explains is far superior to the farce called democracy in the US:

I see it as a way of making sure the politicians can’t ignore you because they can’t just hope to suppress different groups and stop them registering because it’s against the law not to register and not to vote. So therefore the politicians can’t ignore you. And I say this is a law controlling the politicians rather than the voters.

With an existential climate crisis bearing down on us and Australia just as eager to adopt the neoliberal agenda as western Europe and the US, Steve Grumbine asks how they’re breaking through the narrative of false scarcity. It’s not so difficult, says Kline:

Well, funny thing is that most people intuitively understand MMT or Keynesianism. If you say to them, look, we’ve got 3 million people below the poverty line in Australia. We want to put them back to work, and every dollar we spend putting somebody back to work gets spent and re-spent across the economy and stimulates small and large business alike … Now, most people get that, they don’t see that as strange. You tell them that a sovereign government can invest in what it wants to invest in. They get that.


Like the US, Australian politics are presided over by a duopoly of neoclassical parties – an “alternative autocracy.” The Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party are almost indistinguishable in their fealty to the neoliberal agenda, both “reporting to Rupert Murdoch and the fossil fuel industry.” However, unlike the performative opposition of American Democrats and Republicans, the two Australian parties tend to vote the same way. Imagine what kind of policy gets 100% “yes” votes.

Whether or not it’s possible to fix the mess we’re in through electoral politics, political campaigns allow for a dialog with the public, as Bernie Sanders demonstrated in the US. We’ll be watching and cheering on our friends down under.

Victor Kline is a Sydney barrister specializing in refugee law. He is the Founder and Director of the Refugee Law Project which offers pro bono legal advice and representation to asylum seekers and refugees. He is the Leader of TNL (The New Liberals) and one of its founders. TNL will be contesting the next Australian federal elections running candidates in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Victor will be contesting the House of Representatives seat of North Sydney in New South Wales.

Steve Keen is a Distinguished Research Fellow at UCL and the author of “Debunking Economics,” “Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?” and his latest “The New Economics: A Manifesto.” He is one of the few economists to anticipate the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, for which he received a Revere Award from the Real World Economics Review. His main research interests are developing the complex systems approach to macroeconomics, and the economics of climate change. Professor Keen is the lead Senate candidate under The New Liberals.

On Twitter:

@victorklineTNL

@ProfSteveKeen

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This week we’re checking in with a couple of candidates from The New Liberals (TNL) of Australia. We’ll be learning about the traditional Australian political parties and getting an overview of how their electoral system works.

Steve Keen is an old friend of this podcast. In the past he’s joined us to talk about everything from climate change to Marx to the breakdown of supply chains during the COVID pandemic. Now we’re meeting him as a political candidate; soon Professor Keen will be Senator Keen. Victor Kline, the leader and one of the founders of TNL, is running for a seat in the House of Representatives.

TNL is only two years old but has already gained wide support. Unlike the US, where third parties have been almost entirely shut out of national elections, Australia’s preferential voting system and parliamentary style of government have made it possible for TNL to gain traction.

Voting is mandatory in Australia, which Keen explains is far superior to the farce called democracy in the US:

I see it as a way of making sure the politicians can’t ignore you because they can’t just hope to suppress different groups and stop them registering because it’s against the law not to register and not to vote. So therefore the politicians can’t ignore you. And I say this is a law controlling the politicians rather than the voters.

With an existential climate crisis bearing down on us and Australia just as eager to adopt the neoliberal agenda as western Europe and the US, Steve Grumbine asks how they’re breaking through the narrative of false scarcity. It’s not so difficult, says Kline:

Well, funny thing is that most people intuitively understand MMT or Keynesianism. If you say to them, look, we’ve got 3 million people below the poverty line in Australia. We want to put them back to work, and every dollar we spend putting somebody back to work gets spent and re-spent across the economy and stimulates small and large business alike … Now, most people get that, they don’t see that as strange. You tell them that a sovereign government can invest in what it wants to invest in. They get that.


Like the US, Australian politics are presided over by a duopoly of neoclassical parties – an “alternative autocracy.” The Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party are almost indistinguishable in their fealty to the neoliberal agenda, both “reporting to Rupert Murdoch and the fossil fuel industry.” However, unlike the performative opposition of American Democrats and Republicans, the two Australian parties tend to vote the same way. Imagine what kind of policy gets 100% “yes” votes.

Whether or not it’s possible to fix the mess we’re in through electoral politics, political campaigns allow for a dialog with the public, as Bernie Sanders demonstrated in the US. We’ll be watching and cheering on our friends down under.

Victor Kline is a Sydney barrister specializing in refugee law. He is the Founder and Director of the Refugee Law Project which offers pro bono legal advice and representation to asylum seekers and refugees. He is the Leader of TNL (The New Liberals) and one of its founders. TNL will be contesting the next Australian federal elections running candidates in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Victor will be contesting the House of Representatives seat of North Sydney in New South Wales.

Steve Keen is a Distinguished Research Fellow at UCL and the author of “Debunking Economics,” “Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?” and his latest “The New Economics: A Manifesto.” He is one of the few economists to anticipate the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, for which he received a Revere Award from the Real World Economics Review. His main research interests are developing the complex systems approach to macroeconomics, and the economics of climate change. Professor Keen is the lead Senate candidate under The New Liberals.

On Twitter:

@victorklineTNL

@ProfSteveKeen

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