Media Release: 7th March 2013: Increased Electoral Deposit Fees To Decimate Minor Parties

Darren July 2010

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Media Release: 7th March 2013:

Increased Electoral Deposit Fees To Decimate Minor Parties

New laws to double the deposits lodged by candidates contesting federal elections, realistically threaten to take small parties out of the electoral process and have highlighted the fact that the ballot paper is no longer a suitable means to record votes at a federal election, according to a coalition of Australia’s minor parties.

Sex Party president Fiona Patten, Australian Democrats president, Darren Churchill, Hemp Party secretary, Graham Askey and Stable Population Party president, William Bourke said the new fees were a form of economic censorship directed at small parties by the two major parties and the timing of the legislation, only 10 weeks out from the cut-off for lodgement of party registration forms for the next federal election, was a transparent attempt to knock out their competition. “Increasing candidate deposit fees to dissuade smaller parties from registering for an election, just to make a ballot paper more workable, is undemocratic. It represents a monstrous act of electoral fraud and deception”, they said.

The coalition of minor parties claimed that a better way to limit the size of the ballot papers would be to change the method of voting rather than the economic censorship of political parties and their ideas. “Voting on a ballot paper under the same old voting system with lead pencils, is now outdated if the outcome is a financial impost so high that small parties can no longer afford to register. If people can log on and do their tax returns online, why can’t they cast a secure vote online, at the ballot box, these days? Other voting systems like optional preferential voting for below-the-line voters in Senate elections could also achieve the desired effect of making voting easier and simpler rather than ‘taxing’ small parties off the ballot paper”.

The new legislation to increase the fees passed the Senate unamended, even though the Greens, and independents tried to amend it. “Any party who gets through the rigorous registration procedures administered by the AEC and wants to run above the line to maximise the registration of their party name, will now have to stump up an absolute minimum of $32,000 (8 x $4,000) to run a federal senate ticket”, they said. “The increases will not even be noticed by the major parties who spend millions of dollars during an election but for small parties this could now represent most of their election budget and leave them nothing for campaigning. The major parties and even the Greens are not going to be adversely affected by this at all because they all poll above 4% and have their costs paid for by the taxpayer.”

The coalition of minor parties said that the major parties had large funding bases through the union movement, big business and the environmental movement but minor parties were often funded in their early days through office bearers and volunteers mortgaging their homes and donating part of their wages to see a party through its first few elections.

“Small parties are an integral part of Australia’s political landscape and if they disappear it will shrink the gene pool of new political ideas and trends” they said.

While voting is compulsory in Australia, the group said it should be as accessible as possible and allow for the maximum electoral choice – not the minimum.

Fiona Patten: Sex Party, 0413 734 613

Darren Churchill: Australian Democrats, 0412 196 473

Graham Askey: Hemp Party, 02 6621 5058

William Bourke: President, Stable Population Party, 0448 620 525

Australian Democrats Media Contact:

Darren Churchill

National President

darren.churchill@australian-democrats.org.au

0412 196 473

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