Preferencing Statement for Federal Election 2013

Preferencing Process

Pirate Party Australia has completed its preferencing for its first federal election. All group voting tickets (GVT) have been published on the Australian Electoral Commission’s website.

In keeping with the Pirate Party’s commitment to transparency and participatory democracy, this election the Party pioneered a form of preferencing unprecedented in Australian politics.

All parties were invited to provide members of Pirate Party Australia with a statement explaining why they deserve preferences. These statements can be found on the wiki.

After publishing the statements publicly, the members of Pirate Party Australia ranked all 53 registered parties according to how they should be preferenced.

A rundown of the process is as follows:

  • Party members were given a ballot listing the parties to be preferenced in an order predetermined by the Party’s Election Committee to be a good general order of preferences based on the Committee’s research. They were given three days to respond to the ballot.
  • The Committee used the preferencing order prior to the closing of the ballot in order to determine how to best go about negotiating preferences with other parties in order to get them to reciprocate the preference order determined by our members.
  • As soon as the GVT ballot closed, the deals ballot was put to our members.
  • 24 hours later, the deal results were determined and the other parties were informed.
  • The Election Committee met as soon as possible after receiving the Group Voting Tickets for each state and democratically determined any changes necessary to the GVT that were not possible to determine in advance.
    • The minutes of that meeting can be found here.
  • These results are now being published in this statement.

An example of the digital ballot that the members of the Party used to determine their preference order can be found here!

Member-determined Preference Order

The member determined preference order can be found below:

(1) Pirate Party Australia
(2) Australian Greens
(3) The Wikileaks Party
(4) Australian Democrats
(5) Secular Party of Australia
(6) Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues)
(7) Australian Sex Party
(8) Future Party
(9) Australian Independents
(10) Drug Law Reform Party
(11) Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party
(12) Voluntary Euthanasia Party
(13) Stop CSG Party
(14) Liberal Democratic Party
(15) Animal Justice Party
(16) Nick Xenophon Group
(17) Australian First Nations Political Party
(18) Australian Stable Population Party
(19) Carers Alliance
(20) Bullet Train For Australia
(21) Coke in the Bubblers Party
(22) Republican Party of Australia
(23) Bank Reform Party
(24) Building Australia Party
(25) Australian Sports Party
(26) Socialist Alliance
(27) Australian Voice Party
(28) Socialist Equality Party
(29) Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
(30) The 23 Million
(31) Democratic Labour Party (DLP)
(32) Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
(33) Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party
(34) Australian Labor Party (ALP)
(35) Uniting Australia Party
(36) Country Alliance
(37) National Party of Australia
(38) Shooters and Fishers Party
(39) Liberal Party of Australia
(40) Katter's Australian Party
(41) Australian Sovereignty Party
(42) Smokers Rights Party
(43) Palmer United Party
(44) Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens)
(45) Australian Protectionist Party
(46) No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics
(47) Australian Christians
(48) Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
(49) Family First Party
(50) Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
(51) Rise Up Australia Party
(52) One Nation
(53) Australia First Party (NSW) Incorporated

The raw ballot data and pair-wise comparison tables can be found here.

Member-determined Preference Deals

In line with the preference order determined by the membership, the Election Committee attempted to forge deals with other parties that would result in the reciprocation of preferences as closely as possible to the decision made by the members. These deals were then put to a majority vote of the membership before they would be put in place.

The deals as put to the members that were agreed to are as follows:


The Greens offer:

  • 3rd preference in Queensland
  • 2nd preference in NSW
  • 4th preference in Victoria
  • 2nd preference in Tasmania

We offer in exchange:

  • 3rd preference in Queensland
  • 2nd preference in NSW
  • 4th preference in Victoria
  • 2nd preference in Tasmania

Wikileaks Party

The Wikileaks Party offer:

  • 3rd preference in NSW
  • 3rd preference in Victoria

We offer in exchange:

  • 3rd preference in NSW
  • 3rd preference in Victoria

Australian Democrats

The Australian Democrats offer:

  • 2nd preference in Queensland
  • 4th preference in NSW
  • 2nd preference in Victoria
  • 4th preference in Tasmania

We offer in exchange:

  • 2nd preference in Queensland
  • 4th preference in NSW
  • 2nd preference in Victoria
  • 4th preference in Tasmania

Sex Party

The Sex Party offer:

  • 8th preference in Queensland
  • 7th preference in NSW
  • 8th preference in Victoria
  • 3rd preference in Tasmania

We offer in exchange:

  • 8th preference in Queensland
  • 7th preference in NSW
  • 8th preference in Victoria
  • 3rd preference in Tasmania

Australian Democrats deal considered null and void

Due to an apparent misrepresentation by a group claiming to be representatives of the Australian Democrats as registered with the Australian Electoral Commission, the reciprocation deal between the Pirate Party and the Australian Democrats is considered null and void.

We had sent an email to [email protected] requesting someone to speak to regarding preferencing. The respondent, Stuart Horrex, claiming to be the National Secretary of the Australian Democrats, put us in contact with their alleged National Campaign Director, Dan McMillan.

We received a phone call from Mr McMillan at 7:39pm on August 12 to discuss a reciprocation deal based on the preference decisions made by our members. The phone call lasted approximately 10 minutes. We roughly agreed to some terms and continued our discussions with other groups.

On August 13 at 7:03pm, we called Mr McMillan back to confirm the terms of the arrangement to be put to our members by majority vote. These terms were sent by email to Mr McMillan with a suggestion of a slightly better deal. He responded saying they could not make a better deal, and the deal was put to members as worded, and the deal was carried by our members.

Unfortunately, the preferencing deal was not held up by the Australian Democrats, as can be seen by the group voting tickets for each state. It has become apparent that Mr McMillan and Mr Horrex do not represent the registered political party Australian Democrats, and as such, this deal is considered null and void. They seem to have falsely claimed that they represented the Australian Democrats from day one, including having a strong Twitter presence and having the first result in Google for Australian Democrats. Nothing in our communications led us to believe that these individuals were acting fraudulently, as they even provided a response to our initial email asking for information on why our members should preference them in the upcoming elections. Not only did these individuals apparently misrepresent themselves to the Election Committee, they have misrepresented themselves to over 700 members of the Pirate Party.

It has come to our attention however that the AEC has dealt with these individuals before, apparently attempting to take over the Australian Democrats by submitting documentation unsupported by the current executive. We will be reporting this matter to the AEC as we believe these actions may have contravened certain provisions of the Electoral Act and we will keep you up-to-date on the results.

The real Australian Democrats can be found at We took part in these negotiations in good faith and we were misled. The Election Committee apologises to the members of the Pirate Party for this entire situation.

At least one thing has been proven in this preferencing debacle: the Pirate Party can be trusted to follow through with the deals democratically and transparently determined by our members.

Update (22 Aug 2013): the original group we discussed preferences with has sent us an email. We are publishing it and our response to it here.

Update (22 Aug 2013): a follow up email has been received, confirming that the period of time we negotiated was between the time they knew the AEC had denied their request and before they had filed their new appeal.

How other parties have ordered their preferences

All parties have submitted their preferencing order to the Australian Electoral Commission and can be viewed here.

Voting below the line

The Pirate Party wholeheartedly recommends that if you wish to vote below the line in this election, to assist you in limiting your chance of accidentally voting informally:

  • Place a 1 above the line for the Pirate Party. In the case where your below the line is considered informal, the above the line will take precedence and your vote will still be counted.
  • Use a service such as or to prepare your below the line ballot in advance. (These websites are not endorsed by the Party and you should consider your privacy before entering any information into these websites)

Raw Results and Datasets

The raw results and datasets can be found here.

20 thoughts on “Preferencing Statement for Federal Election 2013

  1. Your information about the Australian Democrats is completely and utterly incorrect. Before publishing such rubbish you should have contacted the people in your slanderous article and asked them. Now you have given air to a group of 20 misfits who have taken over the AD’s. to think I would have voted for you people as a below the line voter.

    1. I respectfully disagree.

      We made a deal with who we thought were the Australian Democrats as registered with the AEC. Those that we spoke with were not in a position to make a deal and did it anyway.

      As such, the deal was not put into effect as Ausdems have not preferenced us as per the arrangement. They didn’t even put candidates in Tasmania.

      All we have done is publish what actually happened. It’s up to the AEC now as to what will happen.

        1. This is correct. As per the deals our members chose to enter into, the order for Victoria went: Ausdems, WikiLeaks, Greens.

          1. But you said in the post above that the Australian Democrats didn’t actually do a deal, and instead non-authorised members misled you?

            Did you contact the AEC (as per the above)?

          2. You may note from the deals listed that WLP was always going to be in the 3rd preference in Victoria regardless of who the 2 was due to the specified deal.

            Either way, you cannot change a Group Voting Ticket once it has been submitted.

            The complaint we made to the AEC regarding those we spoke with was regarding their website being misleading and deceptive to electors during an election period; being dodgy regarding preferences is outside of the Electoral Act.

          3. Understood, thanks for clarifying.

            It changes the preference flow even if the Secular Party were bumped up to 2.

          4. Welcome to the mess that is Single Transferable Vote with such a high numbers of candidates. 🙂

            I hope to do some analysis on the results in a few weeks, using Schulze Condorcet on the preferences to see what the outcome would be if we did a pair-wise comparison of every single candidate on each ballot, instead of this random game of discarding the weakest candidate in each round.

  2. Firstly – this way of working out preferences is great (as so far as preferences suck anyhow). That’s the sort of thing that electronic voting to more quickly work things out can help with – great job. What system are you using? Have you looked at Simply Voting (got a lot of good features)? Or doing your own process?

    Red Beard – it’s a complicated situation: the AEC decision not to make a decision on the appeal = meaning that not only did the membership of the Democrats get screwed around – it’s also had flow on impact here. So no use getting upset at the guys on this page – the AEC delay messed things around and the path to putting forward candidates/preference flows was blocked.

    As a newly joined Democrats member – I’d like to apologise to the Pirate party for the confusion – if you think a change in preferences deal is bad – try having loads of keen candidates cooling their heels because there is a small number of people who have gummed up the works via the AEC taking its sweet time or some avoiding accountability/transparency.

    As Brendan calls the few that the AEC has listed as “real” democrats (aka a dozen or so people and not the majority of the party) – mentioned didn’t even put candidates in Tasmania, or ACT etc – that’s because these handful of people do not have the numbers to scrape up the electoral fees or candidates to field more than a few.. Meanwhile there were loads of candidates ready to roll who are now sitting it out because some few wanted to put up their few loyal candidates or block any being placed at all (lest fresh blood be introduced). I’m sure the intent was to honour the deal and people were working towards it – and was just bad luck it fell over at the last minute with the AEC.

    Hint: if you’re talking “takeovers” – ask why the older australian-democrats website is looking more and more like the sustainable population (e.g. “sustainable prosperity” slogan). Ask why also would the Australian democrats – pioneers for Gay rights and climate action preference “family first” above say the greens or ALP in Victoria except for insanity and inconsistency? Why would the pirate party be so down the list given the shared/common views on various policies? There’s a reason the membership of the pirate party would nominate the democrats up the chain and vice versa – the preferences cooked up by the few do not represent this.

    I’ve forwarded on a request to poll the members about preferences to get a discussion going as well.

    So that should tell you everything you need to know about “real” or not that there are as far as I can tell no lower house candidates and some states are without senate candidates.. I’m personally appalled that the preferences have gone the way they did and that candidates were excluded from running by a small mob – I’m sure many are. Again, sorry – and hope you can understand what a mess it is for all concerned.

    Anyhow – I think it’s great that the pirate party has democratic processes in its party, as per the Democrats (with this notable exception) – please believe that the majority of the membership are in favour of change, accountability, transparency and increased participation/democratic approach via technology and thus share a common set of values with the Pirate Party.

    Hopefully this doesn’t fracture the shared friendship of progressive ideals of more specialised progressive/social justice topics like the Pirate Party and the generalist progressive/social justice Australian Democrats. We’re all pushing in the same rough direction just with different ideas/focus about how to do it.

    All the best in the election guys – least you’re in the running this one and not sitting by the sidelines waiting..

    1. Wall of texts aside, none of this takes into account that a group of people that didn’t have the power to put a deal into action negotiated a deal under false pretences.

      This is the entire problem.

  3. Did the Australian Democrats just implode again, on a blog post comment thread this time?

    I am regret

  4. The preferencing deal with the ‘Australian Democrats’ appears to have taken place in July.

    My understanding is that in March the AEC had ruled on a dispute on who were the recognised office holders of the Democrats. This decision was appealed with the AEC announcing in August that it upheld its original decision.

    As you were apparently negotiating with the group that ‘lost’ the original AEC decision whilst the appeal was pending, I can understand how the mis-comunication happened. However I would have thought that at the very least the people you were negotiating with should have informed you of the status and ongoing nature of the dispute.

    The AEC recognised Australian Democrats are standing Senate candidates in each mainland state – but not in Tasmania or the Territories. They are standing (only) 3 candidates in the House of Reps – 1 in the ACT and 2 in WA.

    All rather sad for all concerned.

    1. We started the negotiations on preferences last week, actually, not July, as per the article.

  5. Will the Pirate Party develop a policy that does away with the existing GVT? I suggest if above the line voting remains that the voters place their preference above the line. There could be a minimum % mandatory so it does not become de facto ‘first past the post’. NSW voting for the Upper House has something similar.

  6. I’m a member of the Australian Greens but am also a statistics and voting nerd. I have to say, this is an amazing implementation of grassroots democracy for the internal operation of a political party.

    Thank you for posting the pairwise comparisons of the members’ rankings. That’s a really interesting indication of how your members feel about other parties and, perhaps, how close your members feel the policies and politics of the parties align.

  7. Congratulations to the Pirate Party for this wonderful example of grassroots Democracy. I hope this is carried forward into the future, and looking forward to the Party growing bigger and bigger.

    As a Western Australian, I unfortunately do not have the opportunity to support the Pirate Party at this Election, but look forward to them running candidates in WA in the future!

    All the best in the other states/territories!

  8. Sorry guys, but with Greens on the 2nd place in preferences I can’t just put 1 for Pirate Party.

    Anyway, thanks for the link to I’ve prepared my own list for the election (my 1st election as I just became a citizen).

    P.S. I am a member of Pirate Party.

  9. I agree with Mikhail about Greens 2nd preference and feel uncomfortable with 1 above the line for Pirates.

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