BigPol gets the nobble in early

The biggest bully in Australia, Parliament, is abusing its power against minor political parties so their chances of getting a candidate elected are slashed. So say four minor parties – Sex, Democrat, Hemp and Stable Population – who accuse Labor and Liberal of colluding to pass laws that price the little guys out of the democratic process.

BigPol gets the nobble in early

The biggest bully in the nation is the Australian Parliament, a group of smaller political parties claims.

The Parliament can browbeat, harass, penalise, restrict and jail…and also change the law so it’s harder for anyone outside “the TweedleDeeDum Club” to get elected.

The latest gerrymander by BigPol (Labor and Liberal, Dee and Dum…but not necessarily in that order) is to double the costs of standing for Parliament, putting the little guys at a major disadvantage.

New laws double the deposits which must be lodged by candidates contesting federal elections. They threaten to take small parties out of the electoral process, a coalition of Australia’s minor parties says.

They’re campaigning for change to electronic voting, so democracy can be restored to the people.

Sex Party president Fiona Patten, Australia Democrats President Darren Churchill (pictured), Darren ChurchillHemp Party Secretary Graham Askey and Stable Population Party President, William Bourke said the new fees were a form of economic censorship directed at small parties by the two major parties.

The timing of the legislation, only two months before the cut-off for lodgment of party registration forms for the next federal election, was a transparent attempt by the big parties to knock out their competition, the Sex-Dem-Hemp-PopStab (SDHP) group said.

“Increasing candidate deposit fees to dissuade smaller parties from registering for an election, just to make a ballot paper more workable, is undemocratic. It represents a monstrous act of electoral fraud and deception,” they said.

The unlikely coalition claims that a better way to limit the size of the ballot papers would be to change the method of voting rather than the economic censorship of political parties and their ideas.

“Voting on a ballot paper under the same old voting system, using lead pencils, is now outdated if the outcome is a financial impost so high that small parties can no longer afford to register.

“If people can log on and do their tax returns online, why can’t they cast a secure vote online, at the ballot box? Other voting systems like optional preferential voting for below-the-line voters in Senate elections could also achieve the desired effect of making voting easier and simpler rather than ‘taxing’ small parties off the ballot paper.”

The new legislation to increase the fees passed the Senate unamended, even though the Greens, and independents tried to change it.

“Any party which gets through the rigorous registration procedures administered by the Australian Electoral Commission and wants to run above the line to maximise the registration of their party name, will now have to stump up an absolute minimum of $32,000 (8 x $4,000) to run a federal Senate ticket,” the S-D-H-P group said.

“The increases won’t even be noticed by the major parties who spend millions of dollars during an election. But for small parties, registration could now represent most of their election budget and leave them nothing for campaigning. The major parties and even the Greens are not going to be adversely affected by this at all because they all poll above 4% and have their costs paid for by the taxpayer.”

The coalition of minor parties said that the major parties had large funding bases through the union movement, big business and the environmental movement but minor parties were often funded in their early days through office bearers and volunteers mortgaging their homes and donating part of their wages to see a party through its first few elections.

“Small parties are an integral part of Australia’s political landscape and if they disappear, it will shrink the gene pool of new political ideas and trends,” the group said.

While voting is compulsory in Australia, the group said it should be as accessible as possible and allow for the maximum electoral choice – not the minimum.

For further information:

Fiona Patten: Sex Party, 0413 734 613

Darren Churchill: Australian Democrats, 0412 196 473

Graham Askey: Hemp Party, 02 6621 5058

William Bourke: President, Stable Population Party, 0448 620 525

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