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Pirate Party Australia announces official registration

Tuesday 22 Jan 2013 9:47 a.m.

The Pirate Party Australia logo

The Pirate Party Australia logo

The way is now clear in Australia for pirates to make it onto the ballot.

Pirate Party Australia announced yesterday that its registration as a federal political party had been officially accepted by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Like other “pirate” parties around the world, Pirate Party Australia is founded on principles such as freedom of information, transparent government, and civil and digital liberties.

Party president David W. Campbell says that with registration completed, the party’s efforts will now turn to the nuts and bolts of their campaign.

“With this milestone reached, refinement of our policies will become the focus of our development teams leading up to pre-selection of our candidates later this year,” he says in a statement.

Rodney Serkowski, who founded the party in 2009, says its policies are more important now than ever.

“As the Prime Minister condemns whistleblowers and publishers without trial, the spectre of data retention looms, policy is laundered and Australia’s interests are sidelined by faceless diplomats and bureaucrats through ill-considered trade pacts there has never been more reason to put pirates in parliament,” he says.

International pirates

The first pirate party, the Piratpartiet in Sweden, was formed in 2006 – taking its name from the now defunct anti-intellectual property think tank Piratbyrån. Members of Piratbyrån were involved in the creation of The Pirate Bay, a website which facilitates peer-to-peer file sharing. The sites founders have been embroiled in legal disputes over the sharing of copyrighted material.

The Swedish Pirate Party won 7.1 percent of votes in the 2009 European Parliament election, winning two seats.

Since the formation of the Swedish pirate party, similar parties have appeared across the world – including in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Changing fortunes

In the 2011 Berlin state election the German Pirate Party received 8.9 percent of the vote, before going on to receive more than 7.5 percent in three further state elections.

But following this early success, the party was delivered a setback at the weekend’s state elections in Lower Saxony – where it took just 2.1 percent of the vote. The result was a shock to leading pirate candidate Meinhart Ramaswamy.

“I am totally flabbergasted, I can't explain it,” he told Spiegel Online, “I didn't think this would be possible.”

A Pirate Party for New Zealand?

The Pirate Party of New Zealand is not currently registered as a political party, and thus cannot contest the party vote. However the party stood two electoral candidates in the 2011 election – in Hamilton East and Wellington Central. These candidates won 0.41 percent and 0.72 percent of the vote in their respective electorates.

In a statement on its website, the New Zealand Pirate Party acknowledges its aim of one day becoming a registered political party.

According to Elections New Zealand, under the terms of the Electoral Act would-be registered political parties require:

  • an acceptable party name (and any abbreviation);
  • satisfactory evidence of at least 500 eligible members;
  • statutory declarations from its party secretary concerning membership, intention to contest general elections, and advising of any component parties;
  • party membership rules showing what is required for current financial membership, and candidate selection rules which provide for the democratic involvement of members in the process;
  • an auditor (or person who has agreed to be auditor when the party is registered).
  • a party secretary with a postal address (and ideally phone, fax and e-mail contact details);
  • either the secretary, or a sitting MP who is a current financial member of the party, to make the application.

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