The Socialist Alliance (SA) submitted a list of 1650 members to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on December 2 to maintain its electoral registration.
SA thanks all its members and supporters who campaigned to make this possible.
This campaign was necessary because the federal government, with Labor’s support, brought in undemocratic legislation in August that made it harder for small and progressive parties to appear on the ballot at election time.
Specifically, the legislation restricts the words that can be used in party names and requires all parties not currently represented in parliament to supply the AEC with a list of 1500 members.
Previously, 500 members were required for registration. (1650 is the maximum number that can be submitted.)
This legislation was explicitly designed to protect the major establishment parties - Labor and the Coalition - who are finding it harder to win popular support for their neoliberal policies.
However, these restrictions impact progressive parties such as SA much more than right-wing parties with wealthy backers, such as Clive Palmer's United Australia Party.
It is likely that some progressive parties will be struck from the AEC's party register. This will mean they cannot contest elections with their party name on the ballot paper.
We are proud to have overcome this new hurdle. However, SA remains completely opposed to this legislation.
The AEC will now go through a process of checking SA's submission, which is likely to take several weeks. The AEC will contact some party members to verify their membership.
It is important SA members be alert to any messages from the AEC and respond affirmatively if contacted.
The Socialist Alliance will be contesting the next federal election with Senate tickets and House of Representative candidates in Western Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
We are calling for your vote and broader support for our election campaign. However, voting is not enough.
One danger of the federal government's attack on small parties is that this undemocratic move will be extended in other ways.
The WA Labor government has already amended state electoral law to restrict smaller parties’ capacity to contest elections.
Democratic rights need to be defended by public mobilisation and popular campaigns. However, the fact SA will remain on the ballot is one small triumph against this bipartisan attempt to stifle the left.
[Alex Bainbridge is a national co-convenor of Socialist Alliance.]