Thursday, August 26, 2021

Party Registration Crackdown Tracker

SCOREBOARD

+3 New parties registered under new rules

-6 Existing parties deregistered following new rules (excludes deregistrations under old rules)

Confirmed net change to date: -3

(1) New parties formally pending registration under new rules (several have reportedly applied but not yet been approved for advertising)

(-10) Existing parties formally facing potential deregistration

Parties currently registered: 41

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(This article is continually updated - the original intro text is below)

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 for, applying for, or seeking to pursue 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".  When the AEC has ruled that such a party is a parent, I class it as such too. 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.

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).  

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

A Note Re Early Election (text from August, now redundant)

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

# 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 was speculation the CLP's only MP, Senator Sam McMahon, might quit the party after being deselected in August, but the Senator denied it and it didn't occur.  In 2022 fresh speculation has appeared that she could join the Liberal Democrats, however she soon said she wasn't currently intending to contest the election at all.  If she did defect before the writs were issued the CLP would in theory need 1500 members which it currently does not have.  However, the CLP would not be immediately deregistered and would have at least a month (probably more) to try to satisfy the AEC that it had 1500 members; it's possible the writs might be issued before that process was complete. Options if it looked like the CLP would be delisted would include allowing members from outside the NT, or to have CLP candidates running as Liberals or Nationals.  In the Senate there would be extra options including running them as Liberals and Nationals or grouped independents (however the latter would be a bad idea because of voter confusion).  

Party exempt from 1500 members rule that may be affected by names rules

United Australia Party (apparent parent: Seniors United Party)
The eligibility of the UAP to be a parliamentary party hence exempt from the 1500 member rule was confirmed on 7 Sep following the decision of ex-Liberal Craig Kelly to join the party. On 21 Dec, however, the AEC posted a decision taken in November overturning its earlier 9 March decision to deregister the Seniors United Party.  The Seniors United Party had been continuously registered since 2015.  The United Australia Party was registered in 2018, being a successor to the Palmer United Party which was voluntarily deregistered in 2017.  It appears that the SUP may have prior rights to the word "united", but this is clouded by (i) whether the SUP was in fact deregistered then reregistered or whether it has been continuously registered (I believe it's the latter) (ii) whether PUP and UAP are the same party (I am pretty sure they are legally not) (iii) whether SUP survives the requirement to prove 1500 members or is deregistered.  In any case there is at this stage no evidence that SUP will object to UAP's use of the word "United".

Parties that have passed the 1500 members test and are unaffected by names rules - eligibility for election confirmed or pending

When new parties are verified as having 1500 members by the AEC their details are then put out for public objections.  In practice the likelihood of a successful objection is low so once a party is listed as "pending" below it is highly likely to make the cut - provided it completes the process before the election is called.

Australian Values Party 
(Confirmed. Heston Russell announced application submitted 18 Sep 2021. Advertised for public objections 3 Dec 2021. Registered 18 Jan 2021 after AEC accepted 1526/1650 claimed members for random testing.  The party was allowed 2/33 denials but there were none.) 
Drew Pavlou Democratic Alliance
(Pending. Drew Pavlou announced 1500 members reached on 1 Oct 2021. Advertised for public objections 24 Jan 2022.  Likely to be registered around early March.)  
Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia 
(Confirmed. Announced they had reached 1650 members on 13 Sep 2021. Registered 29 Nov 2021 after the AEC accepted 1566 claimed members as eligible for random testing.  The party was allowed four denials of membership out of 42 but all 42 contacted confirmed they were members.)  
Kim for Canberra
 (Confirmed. Kim Rubenstein announced 1500 members reached on 22 Sep 2021. Advertised for public objections 7 Dec 2021. Registered 18 Jan 2021 after AEC accepted 1629/1649 claimed members for random testing.  The party was allowed 7/53 denials but there were none.)  

The Indigenous-Australia Party of Australia's original application was being processed when the changes to the law received Royal Assent.  Rather than having to re-apply it was permitted to submit a revised membership list.   

Existing parties believed to or claiming to have 1500 members and who are unaffected by names rules 

Claims by parties to have 1500 names are subject to AEC verification and may not necessarily be correct.

Animal Justice Party
Australian Democrats
Members have announced list submitted as of early December.
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
Legalise Cannabis Australia
Formerly Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP). On 17 Nov, HEMP applied to change its name to Legalise Cannabis Australia.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
Socialist Alliance 
Submitted 1650 names on December 2.
Sustainable Australia Party - Stop Overdevelopment/Corruption 
The Great Australian Party
Having survived a show-cause under the old rules (see below) the GAP as of 8 December were struggling to get over the bar in time under the new rules, as they appeared to have 1500 names but to be having issues with mismatches with the electoral roll.  A later video was somewhat more relaxed.  On December 13 the GAP reported they had submitted a list of 1574 claimed checked members, after only 866 members were matched in their initial list submitted on Dec 2.

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

Liberal Democrats (parent: Liberal Party of Australia)
The Liberal Democrats are seeking leave to challenge the party names rules in the High Court.     Papers were lodged on 24 September and a directions hearing was held on 27 Oct.  On 23 Nov the AEC upheld an objection from the Liberal Party, meaning the Liberal Democrats have one month to change their name unless their challenge succeeds. A second directions hearing concerning the content of an agreed special case and whether there was a need for a trial of fact involving expert evidence (mainly concerning the merits of LDP arguments about their performance relative to raw ballot position as opposed to right/left of Liberals) was held on 29 Nov.  A third was scheduled for 1 Dec but appears not to have been heard, as the parties seem to have reached mutual consent on the terms of the special case (I think, based on a public document from that date, in terms of the LDP agreeing that ballot confusion occurred in the 2013 NSW Senate race).  The special case was lodged on 3 Dec. There will be a full court hearing on 8 Feb. The High Court now has a main case page here; other documents are available per fee through the DLS portal.  

On 4 Jan the LDP lodged its submissions, claiming (in summary) that the laws impermissibly affected both implied freedom of political communication and the requirement in the Constitution that MPs be "directly chosen by the people".  They argue that the existing limits on confusing party names are sufficient (using the recent overturning of the New Liberals' registration as an argument to that effect) and also that the government could have used Robson Rotation as an alternative.  They also argue that the government's stated justification at the time of passing the changes was inadequate and that arguments about the impact of relative ballot position on the LDP vote do not prove that confusion is the cause, or alternatively do not prove that it operates in one direction only.  

On 23 Dec an unknown (to me) third force lodged an intervention notice in the case. On 10 Jan two more unknown third forces did so.  

On 24 Jan the Commonwealth lodged its submissions.  It claimed (in summary): (i) that the laws do not affect implied freedom in the manner involved in Rowe (impact on the franchise) (ii) that even if the laws do affect implied freedom the Government is entitled to act based on a perceived risk and a conceded example of confusion (2013) (iii) that the impact on the LDP's freedom is minor as it can still call itself "Liberal Democrats", just not on the ballot paper (iv) that the LDP fails to flesh out its Robson Rotation argument (v) that the LDP refers to material that is inadmissible because it wasn't in the Special Case (vi) that the LDP's claim that the existing limits on confusing names are sufficient is incorrect given that the LDP itself is still registered. 

Following the overturning of the original decision to register them, The New Liberals have been moved to the prospective party section under the name 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 + 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.  

Parties marked # have been listed as of 9 December as parties the AEC is considering deregistering for failing to comply with a notice requesting information about their membership numbers.  

Parties marked @ have been listed as of 19 January, on varying dates, as parties the AEC is considering deregistering for not having 1500 members.  

A strikethrough shows that a party has been deregistered, in which case the date of its demise is shown after the party name.  

Australian Better Families (15/10/21, under previous rules)
Australia First Party (NSW) Incorporated + # (12/1/22, failure to respond)
Australian Affordable Housing Party + #
Announced on Facebook that it had failed to reach 1500 members by the AEC's deadline (being around 1250), was going to be deregistered but was aiming to reach 1500 in time to reregister for a May election.
Australian Citizens Party
Australian Federation Party @
AEC announced on 13 Jan 2022 that it was considering deregistering AFP for not having 1500 members.
Australian People's Party (3/11/21, under previous rules)
Australian Progressives @
Announced a merger with the Progressive Labour Party which was deregistered in 2006. A member announced that they submitted a member list as of early December.  However their list of 1532 was found to be 25 short of the first hurdle (13 deceased 44 not matched) and they intend to respond with a further list after being asked to show cause why they should not be deregistered.
Climate Emergency Action Alliance: Vote Planet +
Announced intention to merge with other parties to form Fusion (see below), 30 Nov 2021
Derryn Hinch's Justice Party (parent: Animal Justice Party) @
DHJP issued a video on 15 November stating that it had around 2000 members but was concerned about its ability to prove 1500 to appropriate formal full name and address standards and was therefore seeking more members to be sure of clearing the bar.  However the AEC subsequently issued a notice that it was considering deregistering DHJP, suggesting that the party had failed verification of its list (I believe it has one more chance). While the AJP could in theory object to DHJP's name there has been no suggestion it will do so.  
Federal ICAC Now +
Health Australia Party @
AEC announced on 18 Jan 2022 that it was considering deregistering Health Australia for not having 1500 members.
Independents CAN # (12/1/22, failure to respond)
As of Dec 4 posted that they were "almost there" but then became subject to an intent to deregister.  Deregistered 12 Jan 2022 for failure to respond.
Informed Medical Options Party +
Love Australia Or Leave + # (12/1/22, failure to respond)
Have posted that they have failed to reach 1500 and will not contest the federal election, and will instead seek to become registered at state level.  
No5G Party @
AEC announced on 17 Dec 2021 that it was considering deregistering No5G for not having 1500 members.
Reason Australia
Science Party # (12/1/22, failure to respond)
Announced intention to merge with other parties to form Fusion (see below), 30 Nov 2021. Science Party name subsequently deregistered for failure to respond.
Secular Party of Australia # (11/1/22, voluntary deregistration)
Announced intention to merge with other parties to form Fusion (see below) 30 Nov 2021. Voluntarily deregistered.   
Transport Matters Party (16/12/21, voluntary deregistration)
VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy @
AEC announced on 13 Jan 2022 that it was considering deregistering VOTEFLUX for not having 1500 members.
Western Australia Party + @
The AEC announced on 11 Jan 2022 that it was considering deregistering the WAP for not having 1500 members.  

Of the above list, No5G and Health Australia have been active on the registration front to the extent of updating their addresses.  

At the time of the legislation passing, Australian Better Families, Australian People's Party and Great Australian Party were facing existing requirements  to show cause why they should not be deregistered for failing to have 500 members.  The Great Australian Party was removed from that status on 11 October, implying that it has satisfied the AEC that it has 500 members, while Australian Better Families and Australian People's Party were deregistered on 15 Oct and 3 Nov respectively.

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.  Parties marked @ are being considered for deregistration.

Australian Christians (suspected parent: Christian Democrats)
Democratic Labour Party (parent: Australian Labor Party) @
On 19 Nov 2021 the AEC upheld an objection from the Australian Labor Party to the DLP's continuing use of their name. The DLP have one month from that date to apply for a change of name unless the law is overturned. The DLP have applied for internal review, claiming that "Labour" is a collective word for people, but have not joined the LDP's legal case.  On 27 Jan 2022 the AEC issued a notice saying it was considering deregistering the DLP for failing to have 1500 members.  
Seniors United Party (possible parent but I think more likely the other way round: United Australia Party)
This party was deregistered under the old rules in March but the deregistration was set aside in November by a decision published in December.  See United Australia Party section re possible parent status, subject to remaining registered.
Socialist Equality Party (parent: Socialist Alliance) +@
On 10 Dec 2021 a propaganda outlet linked to the party reported that it had not submitted 1500 names by 2 Dec.  On 17 Dec the AEC issued a notice saying it was considering deregistering SEP for failing to have 1500 members.
Victorian Socialists (suspected parent: Socialist Alliance) +

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

These prospective or former parties are not currently registered but are known to be trying to build up numbers to 1500+ or have actively stepped up membership drives.  Note that claims to have reached membership numbers are unverified as the AEC has yet to vet them.  

Note also that some deregistered parties listed above with strikethrough may be seeking to re-register after being deregistered.   

AUSTRALIAONE
(This is the far-right party of Riccardo Bosi.  I received a glossy letterbox flier for it in Jan 2022, followed later the same day by another one and an invitation to an event.  Unclear if trying to build members for registration purposes specifically.) 
David Pocock 
(Launched attempt to get 1500 members for an ACT run 17 Dec 2021.  Social media reports unsurprisingly suggest the high-profile rugby star has way more than that number already so the question in his case will be getting through the process in time.)
Fix It Party
(Freelance writer and journalist Jane Gilmore launched a run for Victorian Senate on 14 Jan 2022 - timing will be very tight at best.  Still needed "just under 200 names" as of 27 Jan.) 
Independent Voices For the Senate 
(Independents CAN was a parent party but was deregistered. On 17/1/22 I had word that Independent Voices for the Senate, which had a few weeks earlier been still a few hundred members short, had lodged paperwork for registration.)
No Mandatory Vaccination
(The West Australian reported on 7 Jan 2022 that this party's attempt to register had been delayed by fake membership applications, including (according to the party) from Wesley College students.)
People First Party 
(As of 2 Oct 2021, in the process of verifying 1500 members prior to applying. Australia First was a parent party but was deregistered.) 
Team Baz Party
(Prospective party of TV personality Barry du Bois.  Announced fairly early in the piece but nothing seen re member numbers or further action.)
The Local Party
 (Announced they had reached 1600 members with application pending on 1 Nov 2021) 
TNL (formerly The New Liberals)
(The New Liberals were initially registered under the old rules on 3 June.  They announced on 26 August that they would apply to run under a new name, expected to be "TNL".  On 1 October their application to change their name to "TNL" was published. On 12 November the application was withdrawn, meaning that the party remained registered under the name "The New Liberals" . On 7 Dec it was announced that the Liberal Party had won its internal review against the New Liberals under the existing 129(1)(d) meaning that the original registration of The New Liberals is cancelled and they are removed from the list of registered parties. They would need to both overturn this decision on appeal to the AAT and have the LDP win its case for their ability to use the name New Liberals to be restored. Failing that they will need to apply from scratch under a new name. In response the party announced that while it will continue to self-describe as The New Liberals, it will be applying to register under the name TNL. As of 23 Dec I understand from members that TNL have applied.) 
Sensible Centre Party/Small Business Party nexus 
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 intended to be formed by mergers

FUSION: Science, Pirate, Secular, Climate Emergency
Fusion is a prospective merged party consisting of the Science Party, Secular Party, Pirate Party (recently voluntarily deregistered) and Climate Emergency Action Alliance: Vote Planet.  On 30 November these parties announced that they would merge, citing the 1500 member limit. As I expected the merger is to be accomplished by changing the name of the existing Vote Planet party to the above.  An application was published on 25 Jan so the renaming should be finalised around the end of February. An ACT-registered party Australian Climate Justice has also joined the merger. Because the party is still in the process of changing its name, members of the merged party are being asked by the AEC to confirm membership of the Climate Emergency Action Alliance: Vote Planet party.  

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

Steve Mav Team 
Mav, a serial candidate and former Glenorchy alderman, 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 was trying to register an above the line party but has instead joined One Nation and been endorsed as their lead Senate candidate.

See also

8 comments:

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

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  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
  3. The Derryn Hinch/Animal Justice Party thing amuses me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Science Party, Pirate Party (de-registered recently), Secular Party, and Climate Emergency Action Alliance announced they're merging into one party called "Fusion" due to not being able to have 1500 members.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Socialist Alliance submitted a list of 1650 members to the AEC a week ago - https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/socialist-alliance-submits-federal-re-registration

    ReplyDelete