Canning By-Election HTV preference statement

The Pirate Party continues its tradition of democratically-determined preferences, as chosen by its members.

The Canning By-Election is the first time that the Pirate Party has run its internal preference ballot for a lower house election. The Pirate Party’s first lower house election, the Griffith by-election, was held so soon after the 2013 Federal Election that a second preference ballot was deemed unnecessary.

However, the political situation has changed significantly in the two years since we last undertook this process for the WA Special Senate election[1] and the Pirate Party’s National Council thought it appropriate that a new ballot be conducted to determine the recommended order of candidates on its how-to-vote cards.

A significant development since the 2013 Federal Election has been the formation of the Alliance for Progress[2]. Members of the National Council have been attending these meetings to see what benefit may come from collaboration and preference sharing among currently divided progressive parties. We have attended these meetings with the position that our member-decided preferences was a non-negotiable aspect of our participation. As the participants have agreed to this, we are forging ahead in building closer ties to other progressive parties.

We have had to act rapidly on the issue preferences due to the brief time between the by-election being called and the polling day itself. Katrina Love, candidate for the Animal Justice Party (AJP), contacted us to advise that they were preferencing us second and asked if we could do the same. The Sustainable Population Party is also participating in Alliance for Progress meetings so we included information on both parties in the email we sent to members.

The email was as follows:

[Dear WA Members],

The voting period will begin immediately and finish 12pm AWST, Thursday, 2 September, 2015.

The following information has been provided by the National Council to explain the proposed order as listed in the ballot:

We have been meeting with the Progressive Alliance, a collection of smaller parties on the progressive side of politics. It includes a wide array of smaller parties, including the Future Party, Sex Party, the Australian Progressives, Animal Justice Party and the HEMP Party. The idea is to swap preferences among ourselves before voting for any of the larger parties, including the Greens. Our fellow alliance members are aware of the primacy of our member voting system however, and so the choice is yours.

This loose alliance has been formed in part, as a response to the right-wing minor party alliance, organised by the so-called ‘preference whisperer’ Glenn Druery. We chose to stay well out of the Druery alliance due to the requirement to preference right wing parties. However, with the creation of a progressive alliance and the push for electoral reforms that would make it harder for minor parties we feel that it is prudent to forge closer ties with like-minded minor parties.

In the Canning By-Election, there are two other parties in the Progressive Alliance: the Animal Justice Party and the Sustainable Population Party. The Animal JusticeParty has put us at number two. If you agree that supporting these reciprocal preferences is a good idea then please vote as such.

For your information, links to the policies of these parties:

* Animal Justice:
* Sustainable Population:

After our WA members voted there was a tie for our second preference between the Greens and AJP. The National Council decided to go with the negotiated preferences and put Katrina Love of the AJP ahead of the Greens candidate. This gave us a preference order of:

  1. Pirate Party Australia
  2. Animal Justice Party
  3. The Greens (WA)
  4. Sustainable Population Party
  5. Liberal Democrats
  6. Australian Defence Veterans Party
  7. Australian Labor Party
  8. Palmer United Party
  9. Liberal
  10. Family First Party
  11. Australian Christians
  12. Teresa Van Lieshout (Independent)

As can be seen from the AJP’s how-to-vote card[3], the AJP reneged on giving us second preference, which instead went to the Greens. We suspect that this was due to the uncertainty of our democratically-determined preferences, and could have been related to the turnaround time in our ability to confirm their second place position. In discussions with members of the AJP we did not promise what we had no control over, explaining that we would put the deal to our members (which as demonstrated above is exactly what we did).

Our full how-to-vote card can be found on our Canning By-Election webpage here:

As always, we encourage people voting for us to preference as they see fit. Take into account your personal inclinations and the information included in this statement and decide how you would like to order the preferences yourself. Please note that in a House of Representatives election like Canning, our preference order only impacts the presentation of numbers and order how-to-vote cards. It does not hold any formal weight in the counting process (unlike the Senate Group Voting Tickets) and only apply if voters choose to follow the order. They do hold some influence however, since in Griffith, for instance, over 70% of Pirate voters did follow the order in regard to where they placed their preference for the major parties[4].

There are advantages and disadvantages to using democratically-decided preferences. Most importantly from our perspective, it ensures our members’ views are correctly reflected in our preference flows. This has the added benefit of directing (directly or indirectly) our preference flows to Parties with principles we share, and avoids the risk of some of the debacles experienced by other parties in 2013[5]. The main disadvantage of member-decided preferences is the occasional difficulty in negotiating preference deals, due to uncertainties and turnaround times. We feel though that these disadvantages are worth it to ensure our members have a say and that we stick to our principles.

We will continue to democratically determine preferences for the forseeable future.

Simon Frew
Pirate Party Australia


Previous preferencing statements:

One thought on “Canning By-Election HTV preference statement

  1. Hi all

    I’d just like to take the opportunity to clarify the circumstances around the placement of the Pirate Party on our HTVs.

    In the one conversation I had with PP representative, I said “we currently have you at number 2 and am interested to know at what position you have us.”

    It was clarified to me that the order would be put to PP members but that it would be recommended that AJP was placed at No. 2.

    With no assurances but the probability that we would be at no. 2 on the PP HTV, I was very happy to have PP at no. 2 on our card, but meanwhile in Victoria, NSW and ACT, AJP president and two national committee members were debaitng placement and Vic Convenor was in discussions with Greens, without knowing that I was making enquiries of PP.

    He assured the Greens that we would place them at 2 and unfortunately, national committee and preferencing sub-committee dictates final preferences. To this day I don’t understand that decision, given PP votes would have flowed to the Greens anyhow.

    I’m sorry that this resulted in me unintentionally reneging on my implied assurance that PP would be at no. 2 and am pleased that in the final outcome, it was of no relevance.

    We will make sure we communictae more clearly in future.

    Kind regards

    Katrina Love
    WA Convenor
    Animal Justice Party

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