WikiLeaks Party implodes, candidates quit



blog Your writer has been fairly suspicious of the WikiLeaks Party over the past six months or so since it was formed. Is the party purely a vehicle for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to get elected to the Federal Senate, and thus earn himself a ticket out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London? Or is it a legitimate new political movement in Australia, which will achieve legitimacy beyond Assange personally? It’s been hard to tell. However, revelations that the party botched its preferences arrangements in NSW have swung us away from believing the party is legitimate. Further damaging its reputation today is the news that one of its high-profile candidates, ethicist and novelist Leslie Cannold, will quit the party, alleging dodgy behaviour internally. Cannold’s letter on the issue, released to the public, states:

“As long as I believed there was a chance that democracy, transparency and accountability could prevail in the party I was willing to stay on and fight for it. But where a party member makes a bid to subvert the party’s own processes, asking others to join in a secret, alternative power centre that subverts the properly constituted one, nothing makes sense anymore. This is anunacceptable mode of operation for any organisation but even more so for an organisation explicitly committed to democracy, transparency and accountability.

Even if I stop campaigning this minute, remaining in my role implicitly invites voters to trust The Wikileaks Party. By staying in this role I am implicitly vouching for the worthiness of this party to receive the votes of the Australian people. I can no longer do this because I no longer believe it is true, and so I must resign.”

To be honest, I feel as though this is the kind of thing which all new political parties go through as they try and establish their overall direction and come together as a group. I’m sure if you went back to the formation of any major Australian political party, or indeed any political party globally, you’d see similar skullduggery. The situation is particularly difficult because WikiLeaks’ nominal leader, Julian Assange, is not in Australia and able to keep it on the straight and narrow. It will be interesting to see if the WikiLeaks Party is able to survive the Federal Election, and, if so, how long it will stick around for afterwards. Cannold was probably the party’s most high-profile recruit. It will take a fair bit to restore confidence in it after this.

Image credit: Surian Soosay, Creative Commons


  1. There’s a thorough explanation of what happened at the link below.

    I still think they’re worth voting for though. Their candidates are all great. I don’t think there’s anyone I’d rather have as a senator than Julian Assange. For what is meant to be a house of review, he would certainly know how to hold the government to account. Kellie Tranter is also a good candidate.

    The biggest disappointment is that Ludlam was not put higher. That appears to be a genuine mistake though.

    • If your after actual accountability and transparency in government, you’re better off voting for the Pirate Party, or the Greens.

      Unlike Wikileaks, they preference other parties that also have the similar values.

      • Definitely!

        Well, really – you’re better off voting below the line – but that is easy for me to say, being a Tasmanian – we only have 54 boxes to number!

      • Personally for me, democracy in regards to the preferences process is not as important as actually getting a senate seat and affecting change. Transparency is important, regarding the reasons for preferencing a certain way – this could have been improved upon certainly. In NSW the right wing parties are low enough that it’s not really going to matter either way.

        I think the main problem I have is the fact that it appears that the deals with these right wing parties were not actually made in the end, so the preferences will be going to them with no benefit to WLP.

        I’ve pre-polled anyway, as I’ll be away on election day. WLP, #1 above the line ;-) Pirates can have my second pref :-)

        • I assume you meant below the line? If you vote above the line, you don’t get to choose a second preference!

          • No, above the line. I’d read the NSW group voting tickets beforehand and knew my preference would go to PP as they were right at the top of the preferences. It appears upon looking now PP is 5 and 6 in NSW, not 3 and 4 like I recalled. I knew they were right at the top of the list though. Ignore previous “Pirates can have my second pref :-)” comment. Change to “Pirates can have my third pref :-)”

    • WLP founder admitted on TV that they have no policies but are a ‘policy review party’. How can you vote for someone/party when you have no guarantee of what exactly they have in mind?

      • They actually do have a few policies they have announced. There’s a PDF on their website with a list of their platforms and policies

        There’s not much point in releasing heaps of policies though because none of them will be implemented. They have made it clear that they won’t ever have a senate majority, so they will always be approving/modifying other peoples polices, rather than coming up with their own. While they haven’t released every policy under the sun, they have made their views about multiple issues known enough to have an informed idea as to how they would approach and issue they may be confronted with in the senate.

        • Every party under the sun wants to go about changing legislation and policies, and WLP is no exception. The danger of not having released any documentation of policies at the time is that it gives us voters no guarantee of the specifics of the goals that WLP want to achieve. This is akin to when Conroy was telling us “The filter will remove undesirable content from the internets”, the problem was this was open for abuse as no one had any idea on what was to be targeted. I’m not saying WLP will be sinister like this, but comparisons can be drawn, and people don’t want to vote for uncertainty.

          • Personally, voting based purely on policies is not the way I do it. I vote based on who I feel most, if something came up they had to say yes or no to, would vote the way I would. Sure, policies may form a part of learning about the way you think they would vote, but if you look at what happened with Julia “there will be no carbon tax under a party I lead” Gillard, policies are only a part of the picture.

  2. ” I don’t think there’s anyone I’d rather have as a senator than Julian Assange.”

    I think you should re-read the statements of those resigning, especially that of a Wikileaks co-founder.

    • His answers tonight about the party politics were.. dismissive of the concerns raised by the outgoing members.
      He even used a form of “all publicity is good” in relation to the fairly heavy scrutiny of the party as a result of the departures.

      I was disappointed with his responses on this topic. He effectively tried to argue that his efforts regarding Snowden was what he was concentrating on, and that he primarily deligated his party responsibility.

      If interested i am fairly sure the QandA will be posted online. It was done using Google hangouts “on air”.

  3. Initially I thought Wikileaks Party and Pirate Party Australia were quite similar. However the preference selection for PP was much more open – voted on by members – and it now seems to have the upper hand so far as trust goes. It would be good to see people who I regularly see complain about internet censorship, digital freedom, frivolous patent issues etc on these pages put their vote where their mouth is!

    Note: PP have candidates in Qld, NSW, Vic, Tas senate positions, and have endorsed Scott Ludlam in WA!

  4. “I feel as though this is the kind of thing which all new political parties go through as they try and establish their overall direction and come together as a group” Your are right there I like to think of the rhetoric of the LNP saying we have never removed a sitting prime-minister until you look into the early history of the party and why they are in the current form. It will be interesting to see who survives the next decade. I don’t think the parties that are mostly about their leader will last long but if they get their foundation right there is room no matter the name. Look our Liberal party being one of our most conservative so what really is in a name.

    • Or the hypocrisy in saying “we will not do a deals to get into government” and calling on Labour to do the same, yet they’re “the Coalition” of the Liberal and Nationals… they are inherently a deal. Without it, they don’t separately have the votes.

    • BTW I wasn’t specifically picking on the Liberals here it was I came across while reading some history of PMs

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