news Yesterday digital rights-focused political party the Pirate Party Australia met its campaign funding target of $10,000 entirely through crowdfunding on local platform Pozible, in preparation for the WA Senate election on 5 April.
The Pirate Party, which competed its first Australian Federal Election in September 2013, stands for civil liberties, intellectual property reform, and increased transparency in government. The Party also has detailed policies on other areas of importance for Australia, including education, taxation, welfare, asylum seekers, energy and marriage.
Following the announcement that fresh elections would be taking place in the Western Australian senate due to problems with the count in the 2013 Federal Election in September, the Pirate Party launched the fundraiser using Pozible, a crowdfunding website similar to Kickstarter, and has reached the $10,000 goal in just under two weeks. Supporters of the Pirate Party are still able to contribute to the fundraiser online and all money will go directly towards purchasing campaign materials for the election.
The party offered various rewards for those contributing to its campaign, ranging from stickers and badges to t-shirts and the right to be named as a contributor in an announcement media release if contributors desired.
“This is a fantastic show of support for Pirate Party Australia,” said Fletcher Boyd, lead candidate for the Senate in WA. “We are very thankful to our supporters for providing us with the funds to seriously give this election a go. Despite lacking wealthy sponsors, celebrity candidates or a massive membership base, we have an enormous amount of grassroots enthusiasm as demonstrated by how quickly we were able to reach our goal.”
“In keeping with the Pirate Party’s principles”, preference allocations are being decided democratically by the Party’s Western Australian members and will be released to the public shortly. All members in Western Australia were given the opportunity to vote on their preferred group voting ticket (GVT), arranging the parties in order of preference.
“Not playing the preferencing game and getting involved in back door preference swaps has helped maintain our credibility and allowed us stick to our principles of transparency and democracy,” Boyd said. “We received an enormous amount of praise for not trading preferences with parties who contradict our core beliefs to attain a tactical advantage. We are not contesting the election to win at all costs, nor to gamble the future of the nation and the support of our voters away out of short-sighted selfishness.”
This is the Pirate Party’s third election at the Federal level, having previously contested the Senate in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria at the Federal Election in September 2013, and the Seat of Griffith By-Election early last month, where the party came 4th in a field of 11 candidates.
The Griffith by-election was Pirate Party Australia’s first attempt at contesting a House of Representatives seat.
According to the ABC’s election result page for the election, the Pirate Party picked up 1.5 percent of the primary vote. This was still significantly behind the major parties, with Labor picking up 38.9 percent, the Liberals 44 percent, and the Greens picking up 9.9 percent of the primary vote. However, the Pirate Party came in ahead of Katter’s Australian Party (1.1 percent), Family First (1.0 percent), and quite a few other independent parties.
“It is encouraging that despite the Labor and Liberal Parties dominating the political arena, an increasing number of voters are willing to break out of the major party duopoly and put their support behind an alternative voice like the Pirate Party,” the party’s Griffith candidate Melanie Thomas said in a statement after the by-election in the former seat of ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. “Those voters are sending a powerful message that Australians need someone to stand up for civil and digital liberties, and to protect our country from a range of threats such as warrantless dragnet surveillance, mistreatment of refugees, climate change, governmental secrecy, corruption and cronyism.”
“As more and more Australians see that the Pirate Party is a party backed by a serious platform of evidenced-based policies, we firmly believe that positive inroads can and will be made to stop major parties taking the voting public for granted. We are a party that practices what it preaches and we have shown what a party based on transparency, democracy, and participation can achieve.”
The swing of around 1.5 percent to the Pirate Party in Griffith was three times greater than the Party’s result in Queensland for the Senate at the last federal election in September 2013. It also represented a doubling of first preference votes when compared to the Party’s polling in Griffith for that same Senate election, where the Party received 0.7% of the vote.
Those interested in digital rights issues in the Western Australian election also have another prominent candidate in the form of Greens Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam, who has also kicked off his election campaign to retain his Senate seat, with a major speech in Parliament last week attacking Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Nice crowdfunding effort by the Pirate Party here. I am actually surprised the Greens aren’t also pursuing this kind of initiative; it makes it very easy to donate money to a political party, and very transparent. If I lived in Western Australia and voted based on technology-related issues (I don’t; I live in Sydney and tend to vote for the Greens based on their refugee policies) I’d be voting for the Greens and then preferencing the Pirate Party. The two parties tend to have quite similar policies in quite a few areas.