Pirate Party Australia condemns the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill 2012, the second reading of which was today debated in the Senate.
The particular parts the Pirate Party objects to are the amendments to paragraph 170(3)(a) and 170(3)(b) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, which would double the cost of fielding Senate and House of Representatives candidates. If the bill passes, Senate candidates will cost $2,000, while House of Representatives candidates will cost $1,000.
The purpose of the price increase is to “discourage…those candidates and groups whose chances are very slim, thereby avoiding unwieldy ballot papers that tend to be difficult to read and are likely to give rise to higher levels of informality,” according to a Parliamentary Library document.
“The two particular amendments, masterfully hidden among fairly reasonable amendments, are devastating to the ability of minority parties such as ourselves to compete in fair and democratic elections,”commented Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer, Deputy Secretary of Pirate Party Australia. “The justification for increasing the cost of candidates is laughable — democracy is not about discouraging candidates from competing elections, and it is not about the convenience of being able to print smaller ballot papers.”
“By allowing this bill to pass the Lower House, the major parties have demonstrated their arrogant disregard for the importance of promoting a multiparty democracy. This is not the United States: Australian electoral reform should encourage greater political participation, not less,” Mr OIbrycht-Palmer continued.
“That our own Parliament has the audacity to limit access to elections on the grounds that ‘long paper is unwieldy’ is one of the most fervent conceits I have ever had the displeasure of witnessing in my life,” said Brendan Molloy, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia.
“To accept such an amendment diminishes Australia’s standing as a legitimate democracy.”
Pirate Party Australia will be contesting the 2013 Federal Election, regardless of increases in candidate nomination costs.