Last Thursday, the LNP put four Bill’s before Parliament packaged under ‘Electoral Legislation Amendments’.
One of the Bills, The Party Registration Integrity Bill 2021 trebles the required number of party members for parties not represented in parliament, increasing the number from 500 to 1500 members.
This could seem almost reasonable if the requirement was grandfathered in so that registered parties would only need to meet the requirement when they re-register with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) every two years. However, the Bill would require parties to re-register with triple the members within three months of the Bill’s passing.
However, the most Putin-esque aspect of the demands lies in the fact that the administrative capacity of the AEC is extremely limited. The AEC requires several months to register a party at the best of times. It will be impossible for the bulk of microparties to re-register before the election.
So while it's theoretically possible for microparties to jump through the additional hoops, they will be inevitably thwarted by lack of capacity at the AEC.
This Bill is designed to ensure that the majority of microparties are struck from the ballot this election.
All the money, resourcing and sheer effort Vote Planet and other parties put in to ensure we were registered, plus the campaigning we have done since on the basis we can run in the election, can be erased by parliament.
Incidentally, one in six Australians put a microparty #1 on their ballot.
How will the ALP vote on this Bill? The majority of microparties are considerably more progressive than the LNP and so the ALP is more likely to get microparty preferences. Will the ALP conclude that wiping out all these microparties is likely to ultimately disadvantage them? So far, there hasn’t been any objections to the Bill or amendments put forward.
There are other elements that relate to the naming of parties (Liberal and Labor don’t want others using their names). This would rule out The New Liberals, who have already fought to have their name, and The Liberal Democrats and Democratic Labour Party. It's likely that The New Liberals are the main target of this bill as they could really shake things up for The Liberal Party.
If you are a registered Australian voter, please join Vote Planet and help us stay registered. Contact your MPs and object to this flagrant attack on grassroots democracy. Demand that the changes are grandfathered in.
Vote Planet is working with an alliance of microparties to overturn fight this attack on democracy.