Thursday, August 26, 2021

Party Registration Crackdown Tracker

The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Party Registration Integrity) Bill 2021 has passed the Senate without amendments and will shortly receive Royal Assent.  The Bill (i) increases the party membership number requirement for non-parliamentary parties to 1500 members (ii) requires that a person can only be counted as a member of one party (iii) prevents parties from registering names that use words already used by pre-existing parties without consent, with some exceptions.

My view on these changes was expressed in a previous article (The Trolls That Got There First).  I think the membership changes are in principle good and will not disadvantage minor parties with any real chance of ever winning seats - on the contrary they should reduce ballot paper clutter and encourage micro-parties to merge into units more likely to be competitive with bigger parties.  However I believe this should have been accompanied by reform to the current unfair and confusing treatment of non-party groups, which could become more common and cause increased confusion and unsightly ballot papers following this change. Also, the change disadvantages parties with their support based in the NT, ACT or Tasmania and there should probably be a one-jurisdiction registration option with the old 500 member limit.  


Concerning party names, I strongly share the Liberal Party's frustration with the way in which the existing legislation has been interpreted to ignore empirical evidence of actual voter confusion, but I think that the Bill is overkill and will have perverse consequences, especially the potential for insincere hogging of key words by new parties.

Anyway, the Bill is passed now so I'll switch from advocating to observing the consequences! In particular, it will be interesting to watch what happens with the existing registered parties to see how many of them still exist in that form by the end of the year.  This article therefore tracks the status of all parties that were registered or applying for registration as of 26 August 2021.  News on the progress of parties towards registration, name change, granting of permission to use preoccupied names, or legal action concerning the Bill is noted in italics below each party's name.  

Precursor parties are noted as "suspected parents" where the word used is not exactly the same, pending AEC rulings on what counts as a "grammatical form".  

Please let me know of any statements by parties that they have 1500 members, or that they are taking actions in relation to this Bill (eg merging, changing names, seeking to register 1500 members, passively awaiting or applying for deregistration etc).  

The term "parent" refers to the older registered party that uses a particular word, following the usage in Section 134(A)1 of the Act.

This page is unofficial. See the AEC party registration pages for official news on registration changes.

A Note Re Early Election

There has been a minor resurgence of early election speculation this week.  Under the party names provisions, impugned parties will have one month to apply for a change of name once the AEC determines their name to be blocked following a complaint by a precursor party.  However the application for change of name would then have to be displayed and assessed, which would take a minimum of six weeks but probably longer.  Because the party register freezes when an election is called, this suggests that a party could drag out the process of responding to a parent party's objection for a few months thereby ensuring that its old name survived til any election called for 2021.

This is more clearly the case for the party numbers clause - three months takes us to early December and means that there would not be time to call an election this year and after the three months had expired.  The AEC will be reviewing which parties have 1500 members from December 2.

Exempt parties: parliamentary parties unaffected by change

Australian Greens (includes state branches)
Australian Labor Party (includes state branches)
Centre Alliance
Country Liberal Party @
Jacqui Lambie Network
Katter's Australian Party
Liberal Party of Australia (includes Liberal National Party and other state branches)
National Party of Australia
Pauline Hanson's One Nation #
Rex Patrick Team
United Australia Party (parliamentary status confirmed 7 September)

# Note re Pauline Hanson's One Nation: I expect that even if "nation" is considered as a grammatical form of "national", One Nation would be exempt from the party names rule as "Nation" would be considered "a collective noun for people".  However I am not certain of this.

@ Note re Country Liberal Party: There has been speculation the CLP's only MP, Senator Sam McMahon, might quit the party after being deselected, but the Senator says this isn't the case.  If it did happen the CLP would need 1500 members which it currently does not have.  Options would include allowing members from outside the NT, or CLP candidates running as Liberals, Nationals or (for the Senate) grouped independents.  

Parties believed to have 1500 members and to be unaffected by names rules 

Animal Justice Party
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
Sustainable Australia Party - Stop Overdevelopment/Corruption

Parties believed to have 1500 members and to be potentially affected by names rules

Liberal Democrats (parent: Liberal Party of Australia)
The New Liberals (suspected parent: Liberal Party of Australia) 
       The New Liberals announced on 26/08/2021 that they would apply to run under a new name, which         appears likely to be "TNL".

Parties of unknown size unaffected by names rules

Parties listed below may be at risk of deregistration if they cannot prove they have 1500 unique members after three months.  Parties believed to have 1500 members based on claims by the party (if I consider those claims credible) or statements in parliament or by sources I consider reliable will be moved to groups above.  

Parties marked * were, as of 26 Aug 2021, already facing requirements to show cause why they should not be deregistered for failing to have 500 members.  

Parties marked + have stated that they are actively seeking to reach 1500 members, or have referenced the 1500 member requirement along with links to join their party, or have actively stepped up membership drive activities since the limit was increased.  Some of the parties below may have 1500 members but have not yet stated so publicly.  

Australia First Party (NSW) Incorporated
Australian Affordable Housing Party +
Australian Better Families* +
Australian Citizens Party
Australian Democrats +
Australian Federation Party
Australian People's Party*
Australian Progressives +
Climate Emergency Action Alliance: Vote Planet +
Federal ICAC Now +
Health Australia Party
Independents CAN
Informed Medical Options Party +
Love Australia Or Leave +
No5G Party
Reason Australia
Science Party +
Secular Party of Australia
Socialist Alliance +
The Great Australian Party*
Transport Matters Party
VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy
Western Australia Party

No5G has been active on the registration front to the extent of updating its address.  

# Notes re Federal ICAC Now: In theory Australian Federation Party might be a parent but "federation" could be argued to be a collective noun for people.  Federal ICAC Now was an applicant for registration at the time the new laws were passed but cleared all hurdles on the day the Act received Royal Assent and hence while the old Act was still operating.  

Parties of unknown size that are potentially affected by names rules

Parties listed below are potentially facing the "double whammy" although in some cases parent parties may not object to their names.  They will be moved to the lists above if there is evidence that they are unaffected in one way or both.

Parties marked + have stated that they are actively seeking to reach 1500 members, or have referenced the 1500 member requirement along with links to join their party.  Some of the parties below may have 1500 members but have not yet stated so publicly.  

Australian Christians (suspected parent: Christian Democrats)
Democratic Labour Party (suspected parent: Australian Labor Party)
Derryn Hinch's Justice Party (parent: Animal Justice Party) +
Socialist Equality Party (parent: Socialist Alliance) +
Victorian Socialists (suspected parent: Socialist Alliance) +

Prospective parties aiming to become registered that have displayed awareness of the new 1500 member limit

These prospective parties are not currently registered but are known to be trying to build up numbers to 1500+ or have actively stepped up membership drives:

Australian Values Party (Heston Russell announced application submitted 18 Sep 2021)
Drew Pavlou Democratic Alliance
Independent Voices For the Senate (suspected parent: Independents CAN)
Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia (see below) (Announced they had reached 1650 members                     on 13 Sep 2021).
Kim For Canberra (Kim Rubenstein announced 1500 members reached on 22 Sep 2021).
Team Baz Party
The Local Party
Sensible Centre Party/Small Business Party nexus (see below) 

Notes:

Indigenous-Aboriginal Party had applied for registration under the old system but the process had not completed in time.  They initially suggested they were required to apply again from scratch, assuming they can find 1500 members.  However their application process is still ongoing so it may be they can still qualify based on their original application with added member numbers.  

The Small Business Party of Angela Vithoulkas was deregistered on 23 August, just before the new legislation was passed, because it had failed to prove that it had 500 members (it had one more failure on the AEC's generous random testing than allowed).  Vithoulkas is however also the authoriser for the Twitter account of the Sensible Centre Party which also involves well-known party-hopper Vern Hughes.  Both the SCP and the SBP are seeking registrations and the SCP Facebook page posts registration ads for the SBP.  Further adding to the confusion an SCP candidate for Victorian Senate has self-announced, and a comment on the SCP Facebook page says " Yes, several parties are combining under one umbrella."  The word "centre" is preoccupied by the Centre Alliance so SCP cannot use it without their permission.  

Prospective parties that were aiming to register but have given up citing the expansion to 1500 members as the reason

Steve Mav Team 
        Mav polled 1% as an ungrouped Tasmanian independent in 2019 in a very expensive campaign             which nonetheless netted him the highest vote for an ungrouped state (not territory) candidate                 since 1974.  He has now endorsed One Nation.

See also

3 comments:

  1. Steve Mav seems quite upset about this, which can only mean it's a good thing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Indigenous Australia Party reportedly have 1500+ members as per their Facebook page.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thankyou! Note added. Good effort by them if correct.

      Delete