The Wikileaks Party
|The Wikileaks Party|
|Founded||23 March 2013|
|Politics of Australia
The Wikileaks Party is a minor political party in Australia and a separate entity from the WikiLeaks publishing organisation. The party was created in part to support Julian Assange's failed bid for a Senate seat in Australia in the 2013 election, where they won just 0.66% of the national vote.
Julian Assange's decision to run for the Australian Senate was announced via the WikiLeaks Twitter account in March 2012. The intent to form a WikiLeaks Party was announced by Assange in late 2012, and Assange stated that the party was to be a vehicle for his candidacy for a seat in the Australian Senate in the 2013 election.
On 23 March 2013 the WikiLeaks Party submitted its registrations to the Australian Electoral Commission. The party had over 1300 fee paying members. The application was accepted and the party was registered as a political party on 2 July 2013.
Assange is a native of Australia. Since July 2012 Assange has lived in the Embassy of Ecuador, London, having been granted political asylum by Ecuador in an attempt to avoid arrest by UK authorities. Assange is unable to leave the Embassy without being arrested by the Police Forces of the United Kingdom acting on an extradition order placed on him to travel to Sweden to answer questions regarding allegations of rape and sexual molestation of two Swedish women. Assange fought the extradition order in the UK Court system from December 2010, however, subsequently both the UK High Court of Justice and the UK Supreme Court ruled that the extradition order had been lawfully made and duly dismissed Assange's request for an appeal against the extradition warrant. No charges have ever been laid and Assange refutes the allegations.
The party fielded candidates for the Australian Senate in the states of NSW, Victoria and Western Australia. Two polling experts rated the WikiLeaks Party's electoral chances as '‘highly unlikely'’. Nominations closed in August 2013, and the federal election was held on 7 September 2013.
Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens, was positive about the emergence of the WikiLeaks Party as part of a move away from Australia's two-party system. However, the Greens said they had no intention of stepping aside for Assange in the Victoria Senate election. Similarly, the Socialist Equality Party reaffirmed its intention to defend Assange against perscution but refused to endorse the Wikileaks Party, stating that this position represents the "interests of the working class".
Professor Anne Twomey, an expert on Australian constitutional law at the University of Sydney, suggested that if Assange were elected, this could be found invalid in the event of a legal challenge if a court ruled that his relationship with Ecuador breached the prohibition against the election of people "under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power".
The party's campaign was thrown into turmoil just weeks before the election when members objected strongly to the Party's voting preferences - see Instant-runoff voting. In New South Wales, a Fascist group was placed above the Greens, while in Western Australia the National Party was placed above Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, a strong supporter of WikiLeaks and Assange. Leslie Cannold, Assange's running mate in Victoria, resigned along with many volunteers and members of the National Council. The WikiLeaks Party blamed the preferences on an "Admin error" and promised a public inquiry after the election.
Assange failed in his bid for a Senate seat, receiving only 26,000 votes or 1.24%, the 7th highest primary vote in Victoria, and reaching the 26th round of ballot before being eliminated before any opportunity at preference flows while the party received only 88,100 votes or 0.66% nationally but only contested seats in three States. WikiLeaks Senate candidate Gerry Georgatos came closest to winning a Senate seat for the WikiLeaks Party, reaching the 19th round with only 7 rounds to go before being eliminated also before any opportunity at preference flows, falling short by only 3,000 primary votes of being elected 
New South Wales
The WikiLeaks Party subscribes to a Libertarian ideology. Specific policies for the 2013 election included: introduction of a national shield law to protect a reporter's right not to reveal a source and; "promoting free information and protection for whistle-blowers."
CEO John Shipton stated that "The party stands for what Julian espouses — transparency and accountability in government and of course human rights." Assange himself has said the WikiLeaks Party would combine "a small, centralised leadership with maximum grassroots involvement,” and that the party would advance WikiLeaks' objectives of promoting openness in government and politics, and that it would combat intrusions on individual privacy.
Assange has been reported as saying that he envisions the WikiLeaks Party as bound together by unswerving commitment to the core principles of civic courage nourished by understanding and truthfulness and the free flow of information, and one that will practise in politics what WikiLeaks has done in the field of information. The Constitution of the WikiLeaks Party lists objectives, including: the protection of human rights and freedoms; transparency of governmental and corporate action, policy and information; recognition of the need for equality between generations; and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The Wikileaks Political party has criticised the Telstra Group's relationship with the FBI and US Department of Justice.
In December 2013 a delegation from the party, including its chairman John Shipton, visited Syria and met with President Bashar al-Assad with the goals of demonstrating "solidarity with the Syrian people and their nation" and improving the party's understanding of the country's civil war. In a statement issued shortly before the visit, the Wikileaks Party stated that it opposed outside intervention in the war, supported a negotiated peace process, and described reports of the Ghouta chemical attack by forces loyal to al-Assad in August 2013 as being "unsubstantiated" and comparable to the concerns which were raised over the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program prior to the Iraq War. The meeting with President al-Assad was attended by National Council members John Shipton, Jamal Daoud and Gail Malone.
The meeting with Assad was criticized by the Australian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and many WikiLeaks supporters. Shipton stated that the meeting with al-Assad was "just a matter of good manners", and that the delegation had also met with members of the Syrian opposition. These meetings with the opposition have not been verified. National Council member Jamal Daoud (resigned from the Greens over differences), who accompanied Shipton on the trip, expressed support for Assad on Twitter and on his blog.
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- McKenny, Leesha; Wroe, David (1 January 2014). "WikiLeaks Party defends its 'cup of tea' with Bashar al-Assad". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
- WikiLeaks Party National Council