Online bid for town hall democracy

North Metropolitan candidate Joshua Van Ross says Flux the System! could change the face of democracy.

By Ingrid Jacobson

JOSHUA Van Ross joined the Flux the System! late last year and was so impressed by its platform of a virtual online democracy that he’s now running as a North Metropolitan candidate.

Flux the System! is fielding 24 candidates in the State Election after making its debut in last year’s Federal Election.

Like most of its representatives, the 29-year-old businessman’s entry into politics has been swift but no swifter, he believes, than the 5583 others who have flooded the party’s ranks since its inception.

He attributes this to a revolutionary concept that would see “the people”, not politicians, voting via a Bitcoin-inspired app on every piece of legislation that comes before parliament.

As a result, the party needs no policies as the idea is, in effect, redefining a politician’s job as being to vote the way of the majority.

Mr Van Ross said the system could change the face of politics, especially coupled with another part of the plan – vote swapping.

“Flux will provide a new platform for democracy and allow politicians to enact the people’s will more effectively,” he said.

“I joined the party because I was disillusioned with the current state of politics and the constant bickering between the two major parties.

“Flux eliminates the need for in-fighting and allows politicians to effectively work together in creating policy that benefits the Australian public.”

Mr Van Ross said the vote swapping aspect of the system would allow registered voters who were more interested and had expertise in particular issues to “save up”  and “trade” votes with those who placed greater emphasis on others.

“The Roe 8 issue is a good example.

“Those who it affects or who disagree with the project could save up their votes to have a say on the outcome by trading their votes with people who wanted to vote on other issues more important to them.

“Vote swapping also has the benefit of attracting experts in the field on specific issues so their votes are coming from a very informed place.”

Given that Flux was founded by founded by IT entrepreneurs Max Kaye and Nathan Spataro, it’s no surprise that party statistics show that a big chunk of its membership is from the X and Y generations.

However, plenty of Baby Boomers have signed up, along with some of their parents, with the oldest members being in their nineties.

There’s no doubt that The Flux Party looks ahead to an  increasingly tech-savvy Australia and in line with that, has released several YouTube videos to reach those who prefer to find their information online.

That’s how Mr Van Ross first heard about its philosophy and admits to having immediately joined as a member before then becoming treasurer and finally, deciding to stand up and be counted.

A bit of an entrepreneur himself – he owns a company specialising in commercial property maintenance which he started at the same time as he bought a food van – he admits that he has always been an ideas man.

And considering that just before joining Flux he was gearing up to stand for local government, this former army reservist is definitely one of those people who believe in putting their money and time where their mouth is.

In the case of his maintenance business, Axios Services, which counts property high flyers, Colliers International and Realmark as its main clients, he took a punt on starting it despite having never been a “tradie”.

Instead he came from the field of  project management, which he had been studying at UWA as part of a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

“I’ve always wanted to do more than sit in my lounge room and complain about a political system which obviously needs to be changed,” he said.

“That’s why Flux straight away appealed so much to me as it gives back the power to the people.

“I realised that the platform was ideal for me and for this country.

“Better in my case than local government as I believe this type of online town hall democracy is the way of the future.”

Mr Van Ross acknowledges that the party’s online concept could cause concern given the need for security guarantees, especially after the controversy reigning over the US Election.

However, he points out that the technology chosen by the party’s founders, known as blockchain, is the same as that behind the cryptocurrency world payment system, Bitcoin.

“The Flux app is highly secure as it is based on blockchain technology which resolves key existing issues associated with online voting including incorruptibility, privacy, ballot secrecy, end-to-end transparency and verification,” he said.

“Like everyone else, I have strong views on some WA State issues, but as a Flux representative my personal views do not, and cannot, influence any decisions my constituents would put forward.”

Refusing to be drawn into how he thinks he will fare in the Saturday, March 11 election, Mr Van Ross would rather put his energy into campaigning to represent a party he believes can eventually bring about a radical change in the way Australia’s political systems work.

And he’s doing it the old-fashioned way, out on the hustings in as many suburbs as he can get to, while dreaming of bringing back, albeit virtually, the freedom of expression once found in local town halls.

Perhaps it’s a bit of his upbringing that leads him to make the comparison as the place he was born – Albany – has one of the state’s grandest town halls.

His father was a teacher and his mother looked after the family on an isolated rural property near Muttonbird Island with views of the Porongurup Range and memories of lush, green landscapes.

Later moving to Mundaring, he went to Glen Forrest Primary School and then attended La Salle College in Middle Swan.

For someone relatively young, Mr Van Ross has packed a lot into his life, including a stint in Darwin during his six years with the army reserve on a domestic operation which he cannot divulge.

And now he brings his energy to Flux, a party which many may dismiss considering the revolutionary concept it is pushing.

However, he’s not concerned as he sees his primary aim being to get the word to the public about the party and its concept which he believes could be just as revolutionary as Facebook.

“When Facebook first started, it was just Facebook – nobody knew it would grow as big as it has done today.

“That’s how I see the concept behind Flux, which in time and if adopted would become bigger than the party itself.

“It’s an online version of those town hall meetings when everyone came along and had their say.

“If it gets up and running, a whole ecosystem could be created around it, like a virtual town hall.”