Pirate Party can’t contest Federal election


The Australian wing of the libertarian digital rights group the Pirate Party has had to abandon its stated aim of contesting the imminent Federal Election due to election regulations.

“Our application to register is before the Australian Electoral Commission, however a party cannot be registered once an election has been called,” the party said in a statement over the weekend. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called the next Federal election for August 21.

However, the group said that wouldn’t mean voters wouldn’t hear from it during the contest.

“We’ll continue to highlight important issues that have been largely neglected by other political parties, and to lobby and campaign for a better policy direction with respect to transparent governance, the internet and civil liberties,” the statement said. “You may may even see us at a state election.”

The first national congress of the party will be held on July 31 in Sydney – where, the party said, its members would formally adopt its first statement of platform.

The news comes as a number of technology-related election policies remain unclear in the run-up to August 21. The coalition has not yet released its policy for developing the nation’s broadband future as an alternative to the Government’s National Broadband Network policy, and neither has it confirmed whether it will oppose the mandatory internet filter policy.

“The deceptively named Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement threatens freedom, access to pharmaceuticals and threatens the democratic process. The prospect of blanket data retention that represents a wholesale invasion of privacy is looming,” said Pirate Party Australia’s statement. “These are the issues about which we should be asking lawmakers in this campaign – make them accountable, make them promise they will not marginalise civil liberties, and think about where your vote will go.”

It has been a gradual process for the Pirate Party to get established in Australia since it was established in Australia in late 2009, although the party has publicly made its view known on issues such as the internet filter policy and the expanded ISP data retention policy being examined by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department.

The party’s online forums are seeing a moderate level of activity — 1,583 posts have been made since inception in the area of discussion about the party, with a further 996 posts having been made about policy development and some 371 posts made in a forum devoted to regional divisions of the party – with the most popular region being New South Wales.

According to one post made to a Pirate Party Australia mailing list, the party is currently looking into its wider organisational structure across the nation – using the ‘Squad’ concept its German counterpart has used.

Image credit: Svilen Milev (Facebook page), royalty free


    • It’s not that it’s difficult to apply to the AEC, it’s that the AEC takes a good few months to even start looking at approving an application. I think you’ll find that the pirate party had their application in a few months ago (likely just after receiving the required number of members), but that the election was called earlier than expected, without AEC giving much thought into which parties will miss out if they don’t haul ass (or, perhaps, in spite of those parties).

      It is a shame that the pirate party could not run this time around, since it may cause a few potential members to falter until the next election, though if they play their cards right they may have an extra 3 years to get their game together and market themselves to the people.

  1. I personally think the Pirate Party should have a stab at a few other state elections as well as waiting for the next Federal one. Don’t you get funding if you receive a certain amount of votes in an election? I don’t know exactly how much it is, though.

    Another question would be how much it would cost to contest an election.

  2. There’d be nothing stopping the Pirate Party from endorsing candidates who could then stand as independents — i.e. with no party mentioned on the ballot paper — but who could advertise their association with the Pirate Party by other means.

    Except that nominations must be lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission by midday on 29 July and the national congress isn’t until 31 July. Oops.

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