Quite a few commentators have noted a few interesting preference allocations released today. While Wikileaks has not joined the Sex Party in allocating One Nation a relatively high preference (there are some worrying allocations that have been made in Victoria and NSW. The excuse of administrative mistakes is not that reassuring, either.
Refugees and Asylum Seekers
In both NSW and Victoria, Wikileaks has preferenced the Liberal Democrats quite highly (NSW: 15 and 16; Victoria: 10 and 11). Given Julian Assange’s recent support for the libertarian wing of the US Republican Party (and specifically Rand Paul and his father, Ron) this isn’t exactly surprising, but this decision should not sit well with Wikileaks supporters who have been involved in the refugee rights movement: in the Liberal Democratic Party’s policy statement on immigration the Party states that it “believes the free movement of people, within and between countries, generally contributes to greater prosperity.” Despite a supposed commitment to the principle of free movement as a basic human right the Party proposes to install economic barriers to allow immigration to be governed through price theory, which will both destroy their commitment to free movement and also dehumanise immigrants as mere commodities. When it comes to granting Permanent Residency through a fee the Party is also advocating the restoration of a property-barrier to participation and (semi-)citizenship – quite a remarkable position for a supposed libertarian party to take!
Policy1. Negotiate Free Immigration Agreements (FIAs) with compatible countries to allow unrestricted movement of citizens between those countries.2. Replace the current points-based quota system with a tariff system where immigrants pay for the right to become a permanent resident (PR) in Australia.3. No eligibility for welfare for PRs except where reciprocal arrangements have been established through a FIA.4. Increase barriers to citizenship so Australia can sustain a high level of immigration and relatively free movement of people without the risk that new immigrants will undermine our democracy or social harmony.5. Adopt a liberal approach to temporary residency for workers and tourists.6. Detain unauthorized arrivals for security and health checks, after which they can be temporarily released on payment of bail equivalent to the immigration tariff while their application to stay (as asylum or other) is processed.
The Party says that this policy will not apply to humanitarian immigrants (asylum seekers and refugees) but, as their last policy point indicates, unauthorised arrivals will still be detained until they pay bail (note: seeking asylum by any means is not a crime!). Any realistic reading of this very idealistic policy would recognise that this policy would in effect translate to boat people having to pay bribes to their Australian gaolers as well as boat-smugglers and in this political climate (and with this Party’s preoccupation with money) one would imagine that it would quickly reignite calls to bill refugees for their detention, as was previously policy.
The Australian Democrats (NSW: 11, 12; Vic: 20 – 25) have proposed a similar policy except that, instead of asking asylum seekers to pay a bribe when they reach shore, they want to establish ticket offices overseas and sell permanent residencies to prospective humanitarian immigrants. Prices for visas and air fares would be set in line with the rate charged by local people smugglers which will undoubtedly prompt numerous handy consumer choice guides to spring up with detailed information about whether the Government or local smugglers offer the best value for money and the relevant consumer and immigration laws to consult to learn more about your rights after purchase. The next season of The Checkout would undoubtedly be worth a watch, too.
To avoid people making the dangerous crossing by sea The Australian Democrats propose selling permanent residency and air tickets to validated asylum seekers in neighbouring countries. The price would be set at about the same rate as that charged by people smugglers for the boat trip.
Some of the other parties that aren’t selling tickets to refugees that Wikileaks have placed highly are the Uniting Australia, Australia First, Stable Population parties, the latter of which actually sounds half reasonable on refugee immigration given its general, hand-wringing anti-immigration stance (“South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon was elected on a narrow platform of ‘no pokies’ – and whilst this is also an important issue, it is nowhere near as important as ‘the everything issue'”). Australia First is
literally Hitler an openly fascist party which, together with it’s splinter rival “Australian Protection Party”, has been preferenced higher than Socialist Alliance in NSW: an awkward arrangement if the support for Wikileaks from Socialist Alliance in Melbourne is replicated to the north. Uniting Australia, ostensibly a nice progressive party (or a front for the Presbyterians), has this to say about refugees:
10. Decrease the incentives for illegal immigrants, make it harder for the people smugglers who are risking the lives of the refugees arriving by boat from Asia, while maintaining our moral obligations for legal immigrants and refugees. We welcome all new Australians who cherish the Australian way of life, and are willing to fit in and help to keep Australia a strong nation.
So a beef sanga in one hand to our new, legal cobbers and Christ-knows-what for those refugees who arrive to a country with fewer incentives than currently available under the ALP’s No Advantage policy. Again, I must stress that seeking asylum through any means is not illegal.
Yet none of these have anything on the pure batshit insanity of the Australian Independents (NSW: 25, 26; Vic: 34, 35), who propose that “asylum seekers who arrive by boat [be] transported back to their own countries by plane, for processing.”
Coming in at 32 and 33 in NSW and 40 and 41 in Victoria is the Building Australia Party. Aiming to restore “commonsense, respect and business acumen” to Parliament, Ray Brown registered the party in 2010 and has been working to come to power ever since. As well as declaring war on bureaucracy and paperwork, the BAP has pledged to introduce a Building Industry Commission to oversee “all legislation and regulations” relating to the Building, Planning and Construction industries including, presumably, union and worker rights. The previous iteration of this concept, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (which became Fair Work Building and Construction), was established as an anti-union watchdog by the Howard government and granted wide-ranging coercive powers. After threatening to gaol Adelaide worker Ark Tribe for failing to attend an interview, the ABCC had its back-end handed to itself in court and was quietly dismantled – but Tony Abbott, and the BAP, is threatening to bring it back.
The BAP also expresses a strong commitment to contract and sub-contractor labour which they say has been unfairly maligned by “some minority groups”; this is likely a reference to the work of groups like the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) who have been involved in protest action against sham contracts around the country.
But most importantly, The BAP’s statement that “we support the individual’s right to work as he or she chooses” is a very thinly veiled reference to a desire to see unionism in the construction industry destroyed. The words chosen by The BAP could just as easily have been uttered by Daniel Grollo in a press conference to lambast the CFMEU and have much the same implication. This is not a party that should receive votes from any worker.
To a certain extent the hype over preferencing deals is a bit of a wank. Just because a party has decided on a preference deal does not mean that you, the voter, cannot choose your own voting preferences. Unfortunately, John Howard did do away with the Langer Vote so that option has (somewhat) disappeared, but if you have the patience it’s not that difficult to fill in the boxes as you please. The main point about the preferencing deals is it illustrates the potential policy agreements that might be reached if that party gains some form of minority power in one of the Houses and their desperation to gain that power. Already, the Pirate Party has trumped the Wikileaks Party – both in the process of determining preferences and the transparency afforded to that process and the aftermath, and with claims of administrative errors having caused false preferencing (which has been very strongly challenged and protested by some WA and NSW supporters) Julian Assange’s confidence must surely be shaken.
The reasoning behind the AEC removing some of the preferencing lists from its website has not been explained yet and, until it has been and the files are restored, it is too soon to say for sure whether there was a monumental administrative fuck-up or this is the true preferencing spread. It is very concerning that a party like Wikileaks would preference anti-refugee, anti-union and even neo-nazi groups above their allies in the Greens and the Socialist Alliance. At least they did not stoop as low as the Sex, Stop the Greens and Smokers’ Rights parties in offering high preferencing for One Nation!
But for now there will be very strong questions asked of and by Wikileaks’ supporters about what has happened: and, (un)fortunately for them, their policy and creed of transparency will demand disclosure.
Wikileaks Preferences NSW
1, 2 Wikileaks
3, 4 Future Party
5, 6 Pirate Party
7, 8 Sex Party
9, 10 Stop CSG
11, 12 Australian Democrats
13, 14 HEMP
15, 16 Liberal Democrats
17, 18 Animal Justice Party
19, 20 Uniting Australia Party
21, 22 Voluntary Euthanasia Party
23, 24 Drug Law Reform
25, 26 Australian Independents
27, 28 Bullet Train for Australia
29, 30, 31 Australian Voice
32, 33 Building Australia Party
34, 35 INDEPENDENT
36, 37 Australia First Party
38, 39 Socialist Equality Party
40, 41 INDEPENDENT
42, 43 Australian Republicans
44, 45, 46 Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills Issues)
47, 48 Carers’ Alliance
49, 50 Shooters and Fishers
51, 52 Fishing and Lifestyle Party
53, 54 Non-Custodial Parents Party
55, 56 Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62 Greens
63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68 Labor
69, 70 Family First
71, 72 DLP
73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78 Liberals
79, 80 Australian Protectionist Party
81, 82 Socialist Alliance
83, 84 Palmer Untied Party
85, 86 Stop the Greens
87, 88 Smokers’ Rights
89, 90 Stable Population Party
91, 92 Secular Party of Australia
93, 94 Katter’s Australia Party
95, 96 No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics
97, 98, 99, 100, 101 Christian Democrats
102, 103 Rise Up Australia
104, 105, 106, 107 Ungrouped
108, 109, 110 One Nation
Wikileaks Preferences – VIC
1, 2, 3 Wikileaks
4, 5 Pirate Party
6, 7 Animal Justice
8, 9 Sex Party
10, 11 Liberal Democrats
12, 13 Drug Law Reform
14, 15 Senator Online
16, 17 HEMP
18, 19 Secular Party
20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 Australian Democrats
26, 27 Stop CSG
28, 29 Australian Republicans
30, 31 Bullet Train for Australia
32, 33 INDEPENDENT
34, 35 Australian Independents
36, 37 Bank Reform Party
38, 39 Socialist Equality Party
40, 41 Building Australia Party
42, 43 Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
44, 45 Stable Population Party
46, 47 Smokers’ Rights
48, 49 Australian Voice
50, 51 Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party
52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57 Greens
58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63 Labor
64, 65, 66, 67 Liberal/Nationals
68, 69 Family First
70, 71 Country Alliance
72, 73 Katter’s Australian Party
74, 75, 76 Palmer United Party
77, 78, 79 INDEPENDENT
80, 81 INDEPENDENT (Anarchist)
82, 83 Stop the Greens
84, 85 Australian Christians
86, 87 Shooters and Fishers
88, 89 DLP
90, 91 No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics
92, 93 One Nation
94, 95 Rise Up Australian
96, 97 Citizens Electoral Council