WikiLeaks Party risks Abbott controlled Senate

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, one of Julian Assange's top supporters, risks losing his seat to the National Party.

The WikiLeaks Party has come under fire for its Western Australia and New South Wales preference allocations for the federal elections, which put right-wing and racist groups ahead of Greens and socialist candidates.

WikiLeaks Party senate candidate for Western Australia, Gerry Georgatos, has defended a decision to preference two National Party candidates ahead of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. Of all Australian parliamentarians, Ludlam has been the most outspoken in defence of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

Despite Georgatos’s claims on Twitter that Ludlum is sure to be re-elected regardless, most election observers agree the move could result in Ludlam losing the closely contested sixth WA Senate position to the Nationals’ David Wirrpanda and hand an incoming Tony Abbott government control of the Senate.

The WA Greens have given the WikiLeaks Party "their second preference, before all other parties. The WA Nationals have placed the Greens last, but have given Georgatos their third preference, second only to their Liberal Party coalition partners.

That Nationals would give such a high preference to the WikiLeaks Party is surprising given National MPs past record of voting against pro-WikiLeaks motions.

National Party senators voted against a November 2, 2012, motion moved by Ludlam that called on the federal government to ensure that Assange not be extradited to the US from Sweden. No National Party Senators supported another motion from Ludlam that called for the Senate to recognise Assange is a journalist.

Georgatos has denied there is a preference swap deal between the WikiLeaks Party and the WA Nationals.

The move has reportedly alienated WikiLeaks Party supporters in WA. Crikey’s Bernard Keane reported that the party’s volunteer coordinator Natalie Banks resigned after the WA preferences were made public on August 18.

Following an August 19 interview with Julian Assange, Perth radio station RTR-FM’s Indymedia show presenter Alex Whisson said: “I can confirm that most of the volunteers for the Western Australian branch of the WikiLeaks Party ... have resigned their membership, have withdrawn from involvement in the party in disgust at this preference deal flowing through to the Nationals.”

In the interview, Assange — the WikiLeaks Party Senate candidate in Victoria — said he was “not personally involved” in the preference decisions made in WA and NSW. He said the decisions “were made by the party candidates or their officers in those two other states”.

Assange said Ludlam “has been a big supporter of me and I think he is one of the best guys in the Australian Senate. That’s my personal opinion but the WikiLeaks Party is a party, it’s not a plaything of Julian Assange.”

Assange added that “we’re not sure what happened in New South Wales. We don’t know whether that’s the AEC [Australian Electoral Commission] or exactly what the confusion is there.”

The WikiLeaks Party has blamed an “administrative error” for NSW preference allocations submitted to the AEC that put the far-right racist Australia First Party, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the “men’s rights” Non-Custodial Parents Party ahead of the Greens.

In an August 18 statement, the WikiLeaks Party said its National Council had voted to put “The Shooters & Fishers and the Australia First Party ... below Greens, Labor [and] Liberal”. The details of the “administrative error” are still unclear.

The Australia First Party (AFP), which says even the One Nation Party is too soft on refugees, wants to suspend all immigration to Australia, deport all refugees that have arrived since 2007 and bring back capital punishment.

The AFP is led by former Australian Nazi Party member Jim Salaem. Saleam was jailed for three and a half years for his involvement in the 1989 non-fatal shooting of the African National Congress representative in Australia, Eddie Funde.

The NSW WikiLeaks Party preferences placed the Socialist Alliance even further down the list behind the Greens. The Socialist Alliance is placed below the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the National Party, The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party and extreme-right groups such as Family First, The Democratic Labour Party and the Australian Protectionist Party.

The WikiLeaks Party has as yet offered no explanation as to why the Socialist Alliance appears below political parties that have denounced WikiLeaks releases and cheered on the persecution of Assange.

Socialist Alliance NSW Senate preferences flow to the Greens, then The WikiLeaks Party, followed by progressive small parties, and to Labor before the Liberal/Nationals.

[The author is a member of the Socialist Alliance.]

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