ACT registration “failure”

Pirate Party Australia failed a recent attempt to register their Australian Capital Territory branch (PPAU-ACT). What strikes me as odd is that the media didn’t even acknowledge the attempt until after it failed. Okay, maybe it’s not that strange.

But it has been portrayed by several sources, particularly Delimiter and the Sydney Morning Herald as an abysmal failure from a disorganised political party.

Let’s backtrack.

About two or three months ago, the now Secretary of PPAU-ACT came into our IRC channel and said: “ACT elections are in a few months, and I reckon we could have a chance at fielding some independent candidates.”

At that stage, I’m not sure many of us had considered that the ACT was much to bother with. Our largest states are New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, and the ACT was as likely a place to run as the sparsely populated Northern Territory.

Another person looked up the registration requirements and said: “Registration only requires 100 members, why don’t we try that?”

Very quickly attempts were made to get the required members in order to register. The original plan to field independent candidates remained, and the attempt at registration was to see if it was at all possible to get the Party registered anywhere in Australia. Some might recall that initial attempts to register Pirate Party Australia federally failed as a result of the Australian Electoral Commission misplacing half our submitted membership forms, ruling we didn’t have enough members, then finding the forms with another party’s application. Rather than admit fault, they gave the option of having it reviewed ($750) or reapplying ($500). We chose the latter so that we could verify all our members manually and “save” some money.

So, on reflection, the situation is this:

  • Pirate Party Australia failed to get a territory branch registered by 6 members
  • They still managed to massively increase their membership over a short period of time
  • They will still field independent candidates as per the original idea

It’s only a failure if you look at it from the perspective that it was a serious attempt. We’re disappointed, obviously, but if you think about it, we’re still ahead. The membership drive was successful, people know about us, and people will still be able to vote for us. After October 20, we may resubmit our application and become registered in the ACT.

I note our detractors telling us to get it together do not appear to be helping the cause too much. I challenge anyone who wants to see us registered and on ballots to help us distribute the weight a little more. Running a political party is a little more complex than people seem to think.

In the meantime, there are umpteen other things to deal with. Several inquiries, most importantly the National Security inquiry (#natsecinquiry on Twitter), which proposes many threats to our privacy. And there are inquiries on Technological Protection Measures (TPMs), Copyright and Patents coming up.

Many people do not realise that a political party is not just about getting votes. If Pirate Party Australia register, all it does it get a few names on ballots under the Party name. There are many other things to be focusing on. Our likelihood for electoral success is slim, but we have made great contributions outside Parliament. Just visit our website and read our press releases to see what we’ve contributed to.

We have plenty to keep us busy, particularly in the wake of our 2012 National Congress, which is still technically open until voting closes (about another week). We may have changes to our leadership and policies, so hopefully the transitions are smooth. I’ll be doing a “round-up” of the National Congress, similarly to my reflection on the PPI 2012 GA conference.

So, the way forward from here? We’ll be verifying all our members to make sure they are enrolled to vote correctly, and likely undergoing pre-selection in case we are registered in time for the next federal election. The Government may call an early election which might not allow us to compete, but as I said above – there is a lot of work to be done away from elections.

But that’s hardly something to complain about unless you’re actually a contributor to the Party, in which case you should be doing all you can to help.


Author: Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer

Pirate Party Australia Deputy Secretary and Press Officer. Former member of the Pirate Parties International Court of Arbitration.

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