The leader of the Australian Sex Party is growing up and launching a new "prudent and pragmatic" political party named Reason to campaign at the next federal election.
Sex Party leader and Victorian MP Fiona Patten says the new party will draw inspiration from recently elected French president and centrist Emmanuel Macron to seek to capitalise on disaffected voters through a broader sweep of policies.
Ms Patten, a former sex worker and lobbyist who founded the Sex Party in 2009, had been considering renaming the party since she was elected to the Victorian upper house in 2014, but in the end decided to close it down and launch an entirely new party.
"The Sex Party was this grand, bright new child on the block. Now I think we've grown up and we're at another level.
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"We'd like to be part of a bigger movement that reflects what's going on internationally and also reflects on the fact that there needs to be a voice of reason in politics today to counter the extremist voice that is currently so loud."
Ms Patten accused "extremists" in One Nation and the Liberal Party of taking control of the political debate and the major parties of being more focused on "how they can score against each other rather than how they can improve Australia".
Reason, which Ms Patten describes as "relatively centrist" and civil libertarian, will continue to advocate for key Sex Party policies, such as legalisation of illicit drugs, assisted dying laws and same-sex marriage.
But it will also expand into housing affordability, small business, mitigating climate change and an economic policy that privileges the private sector and minimising tax.
"We're looking for pragmatic solutions, we're not partisan, we will play well with others," she said.
"The notion of left and right is no longer relevant in the 21st century – our politics needs to be far more three-dimensional than that."
She said Australia needed something similar to what Macron did in France when he beat far right candidate Marine Le Pen.
"Macron really identified with that disaffected voter. Sadly our young voters are the most disaffected voters of all – they don't know a time when they were interested."
Key players in developing the new party include corporate governance specialist and president of the Rationalist Society, Meredith Doig, and the designer of Labor's Kevin07 campaign Camilla Cooke.
Ms Patten said more individuals and organisations, including political parties, would be announcing their involvement in the party in the coming weeks.
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"Certainly when I've spoken to people from other parties there has been much enthusiasm for a new movement that really provides a commonsense voice of reason."
Asked whether she expected Reason and its "prudent and pragmatic" policies to have the same cut-through and irreverence as the Sex Party, Ms Patten insisted "we're going to have a lot of fun with this".
"The interesting thing was when people looked past our name we were actually prudent and pragmatic. Who would have thought the Sex Party was prudish?"
- This story originally appeared on The Australian Financial Review as ‘Sex Party transforms into new 'Reason' party’