In a first since new Senate voting reforms were passed, an Australian political party has issued a direct challenge to the Australian Electoral Commission inviting a prosecution.
Sex Party President and Victorian Upper House member, Fiona Patten, has written to Senator Mathias Cormann, the Minister responsible for the Electoral Commission, inviting him to initiate proceedings over her party’s decision in the Northern Territory to recommend its supporters “Just Vote 1” above the line.
There are only seven parties running for the two Senate spots in the Northern Territory. Apart from the three major parties, the Sex / HEMP joint ticket is up against extremist right wing parties Rise Up Australia, the Citizens Electoral Council and the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group).
“The Electoral Commission has been spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a campaign telling voters they must vote 1 to 6 above the line but that is just not true”, Patten says. “The legislation has a savings provision that says marking a “1” above the line and no other boxes will still count as a valid vote.”
“We can’t in good conscience ask our supporters to put a number against parties we are diametrically opposed to. In the Northern Territory even if we were to run a so-called open ticket telling people to fill out six boxes that still means we are asking our supporters to put a number against a bigoted party, a homophobic party and a racist party. Conversely these racist, bigoted and homophobic parties will also face the prospect of putting the Sex Party in their list of six”.
“In the Northern Territory, the AEC is effectively telling voters they must decide which prejudice they prefer least. Senator Cormann argued that the reforms were all about putting choice back into the hands of the voter. Any action or direction by the AEC to the contrary is against the spirit of the reforms.”
The Sex Party’s recommendation is designed to challenge key aspects of the Senate voting reforms. “This should raise the ire of Mr Cormann. We hope it does.” Patten said.
The three major parties have published How to Vote cards telling voters to vote one to six in their recommended order.
The announcement comes just days after Greens leader, Senator Di Natale, defended his party’s decision to preference the Fred Nile Christian Democrats ahead of an indigenous gay lawyer running in the seat of Sydney.
“With the Senate voting reforms the Greens have been too smart by half”. Patten went on. “They got the reforms they so desperately wanted in order to stop other progressive parties like my own getting a toe in the door. They have played right into Malcolm Turnbull’s hands, giving him a system under which he felt safe calling a double dissolution. In so doing they have created the perfect storm.”
“If Pauline Hanson or any other racist or homophobic group gets elected on July 2, the blame can lay fairly and squarely on the Greens.”
In the 2010 Federal Election in the Northern Territory the Sex Party received over 4 % and received Federal funding. In this election they are running a joint ticket with the Marijuana (HEMP) Party in order to draw attention to one of its main policy platforms of regulating and taxing cannabis.
“The Northern Territory has a dreadful problem where indigenous pot smokers are forced to pay outrageous sums of money for their cannabis on the black market. We say legalise cannabis, regulate it, tax it. Problem solved”
Sex Party media release.