Media Release: ACT Democrats – ACT Electoral Act: 16 July 2008

Darren Churchill – ACT Democrats

Democrats Highlight Flaws in ACT Electoral Act 16 July 2008

ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill has questioned flaws in the ACT Electoral Act.

The Democrats are expected to make an announcement on how they will participate in the October ACT election during the forthcoming week. But the federally registered party faces some unusual obstacles.

“We were deregistered when our membership declined last year” said Mr Churchill. “But now, even if we had 500 members, we can’t reregister until after the election unless we are prepared to change our name”

Section 99 of the ACT Electoral Act states that:
“(1) If the registration of a registered party (the cancelled party) is
cancelled-
(a) the cancelled party; or
(b) another political party that has a name that so nearly resembles
the name of the cancelled party that it is likely to be confused
with or mistaken for the cancelled party;
is ineligible for registration until after the next general election after
the cancellation.
(2) In this section:
name includes an abbreviation of the name”

“It’s a very strange law that prevents us from using our own name!” declared Mr Churchill

“There is also the interesting situation where Section 115 of the Electoral Act was amended in May this year to prevent like minded candidates grouping together in a column. So, independents have to form themselves into a party to get a column. And a hotchpotch of conflicting vested interest groups can call themselves a party and get a column. But the federally registered Australian Democrats can’t re-register without making our name different from our national organisation. The Electoral Act is seriously flawed!” Mr Churchill pointed out. “It’s farcical!”

“The benefits from having party status should be extended to all candidates – grouped or ungrouped.” claimed Mr Churchill

“The Democrats believe that a party which is registered nationally should automatically be registered for ACT elections.” Mr Churchill stated. “And the prohibition of like-minded candidates being able to be grouped together to achieve their democratic objectives is nothing short of an electoral gerrymander weighting the entire electoral system in favour of Liberal and Labor.”

“The Hare-Clark system with Robson Rotation has some extremely democratic aspects to it. But the ACT version turns this democracy on its head because of the other aspects of the Electoral Act I’ve just mentioned”. “The ACT Democrats will continue to fight for fair and democratic electoral laws!” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
0412 196 473
darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au

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