Left disadvantaged by new laws

Issue 

BY LISA MACDONALD

SYDNEY — On February 26, the Socialist Alliance received confirmation from State Electoral Office that the alliance has been registered as a political party in NSW.

This enables the alliance to have its name printed on ballot papers alongside its candidates in NSW elections and, under certain circumstances, to claim electoral funding.

That's the good news for the left in NSW. The bad news is that, with the deadline for registration for the March 2003 state election having passed on March 7, none of the other left parties that had endeavoured to become registered had succeeded.

Instead, the only other newly registered parties in NSW are all from the right — the Australian Family Alliance, Australians Against Further Immigration (AAFI), Horse Riders Party, One Nation NSW Political Party, Country Labor Party, No Privatisation People's Party and the Fishing Party.

The NSW Greens, Unity Party and Peter Breen-Reform the Legal System, along with Fred Nile's Christian Democratic Party, Outdoor Recreation Party, Shooters Party, Australian Democrats, Labor, Nationals and the Liberals are automatically registered because they already have elected MPs.

It doesn't take much political nowse to see that the electoral registration laws passed by the NSW parliament in 1999, straight after the last state election, have done the job that the conservative parties intended: favouring the right-wing side of politics.

Since its formation early last year, the Socialist Alliance has campaigned publicly against the new electoral laws, precisely because it foresaw this outcome. The requirements for registration — to provide signed membership forms for 750 correctly enrolled NSW residents who are not a member of another registered party, pay a $2000 application fee and ensure that 75% of 300 randomly selected members reply by mail to an SEO query about their membership — stack the odds firmly against any political organisation that is not already entrenched in parliamentary politics or that does not have access to a lot of resources.

From Green Left Weekly, March 13, 2002.

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