news The Australian branch of digital freedom political group the Pirate Party today confirmed it had successfully registered as a political party to contest the upcoming 2013 Federal Election, overcoming registration issues which had prevented it from contesting the 2010 election as a party.
“Pirate Party Australia is pleased to announce that its application for registration as a federal political party passed all tests by the Australian Electoral Commission and is now on the register of political parties,” wrote the party in a statement today. “The Party quietly submitted its application in late 2012, and objections to the Party’s registration closed on the 14th of January this year.”
The registration makes it easier for the party to contest the upcoming Federal Election, as registration means Pirate Party candidates will be eligible to have the party affiliation of their endorsed candidates printed on ballot papers.
“Organising and validating a membership database to then submit to the AEC for the purposes of registration is a daunting task. Fortunately, we had a team of volunteers who were prepared to spend many weekends ensuring that the list we sent to the AEC was entirely valid, and I thank them for their effort,” said Brendan Molloy, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia.
The Party will now turn its attention towards developing policies and the pre-selection of candidates for the upcoming federal election. “With this milestone reached, refinement of our policies will become the focus of our development teams leading up to pre-selection of our candidates later this year.” said David W. Campbell, President of Pirate Party Australia.
The Pirate Party noted that it wanted to thank all those involved in the process leading to registration, particularly those who spent “vast amounts of time ensuring member details were up to date”.
“More than ever before there is a necessity in Australia for a party that holds empowerment, participation, free culture and openness as its central tenets. A party that understands the modern emerging information society and the imperative for political transparency that ensures meaningful engagement.” said Rodney Serkowski, Pirate Party Australia founder.
“A Party that respects fundamental rights and freedoms. As the Prime Minister condemns whistleblowers and publishers without trial, the spectre of data retention looms, policy is laundered and Australia’s interests are sidelined by faceless diplomats and bureaucrats through ill-considered trade pacts there has never been more reason to put pirates in parliament” he concluded.
“On this momentous occasion, I would like to thank all of those who have supported us through the long-running registration process: our members, our families and supporters from around the world,” said Molloy. “Of course, the work doesn’t stop here. The Pirate Party will be fielding candidates in the upcoming election, so we need your support. Join, donate, and vote Pirate!”
The news comes after several botched attempts by the Pirate Party Australia to register to contest elections. In July 2012, for instance, the Pirate Party fell short of required numbers for the ACT’s territorial election, while in July 2010, the Pirate Party had to abandon its stated aim of contesting the then-imminent Federal Election due to election regulations, as it had not registered as a party before the election was called.
It is believed that the Pirate Party has only a slim chance of winning seats in the Federal Election, with its best chance coming in the Senate, where each state and territorial senator needs to achieve a certain level of support from their state or territory as a whole. However, there are a handful of independents and members of minor parties in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The mainstream party which currently holds the most policies in common with the Pirate Party is the Greens, especially through the views espoused by Greens Communications Spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, who is a Senator for Western Australia. However, the Pirate Party may also face harsh competition in its demographic from an outside wild card, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has several times expressed interest in contesting the 2013 Federal Election to gain a seat in Australia’s Senate.
In July, when the Pirate Party failed to register for the ACT elections, I wrote:
“I have only one message for the Australian Pirate Party: Get your shit together. If the party wants to be taken seriously by Australians it shouldn’t be trying to frantically cadge together the required member numbers minutes before cut-off dates for elections. Such an effort smacks of an amateur approach. This is twice now that the Party has missed election cut-off dates. I am sure its members will not be impressed if this happens again. And I don’t think the problem is a lack of interest from members — I think the problem is a lack of organisation.
Just a reminder: The next Federal Election is expected to be held in 2013, but an election could be called at any time due to the knife edge parliamentary margin which the Gillard Labor government enjoys. I expect to see the Pirate Party on the electoral rolls next time around.”
I heartily congratulate the Pirate Party on meeting my expectations and registering for the Federal Election. We need more special interest parties such as the Pirate Party in Australia. It remains a fact that the party’s policies, if you examine them closely and without prejudice, are surprisingly mainstream, as are the policies of a number of other minor parties, such as the Greens and even the Australian Sex Party. I wish the party the best of luck in the upcoming elections and will cover the party’s technology-related policies as we will those of the other parties.