Citizens Electoral Council
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The Citizens Electoral Council of Australia (CEC) is a minor political party in Australia affiliated with the international LaRouche Movement which was led by American political activist Lyndon LaRouche. CEC was registered as a political party by the Australian Electoral Commission on 27 June 1997 and deregistered on 27 December 2006. For the purpose of federal re-registration, it reported having 549 members in 2007. and was re-registered on 4 September 2007. The NSW Division of CEC was registered on 5 August 2004 and deregistered on 27 December 2006.
CEC has been described as "far right", "fascist" and "lunar right", as well as "ideologues on the economic Left". However, the party has campaigned explicitly against "fascism", which is the term it used for certain policy trends that started under the John Howard-led Coalition government, specifically counter-terrorism laws, for their impact on civil liberties, and the mandatory detention and offshore processing of refugees.
Craig Isherwood is the founder and leader of the CEC.
The original CEC was established in 1988 by local residents of the Kingaroy region of Queensland. CEC candidate Trevor Perrett won the 1988 Barambah state by-election in Queensland, held after former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen resigned from State Parliament in 1987. However, Perrett switched to the National Party in December 1988. Members of the Australian League of Rights, an extreme right-wing group led by Eric Butler, tried unsuccessful to take over the new party. Its purpose was to lobby for binding voter-initiated referenda.
By 1989, the CEC leadership was under the influence of the Lyndon LaRouche movement. By 1992, the CEC identified itself as the Australian branch of the broad international LaRouche movement. National Secretary Craig Isherwood renamed the organisational newsletter The New Citizen, and moved the headquarters from rural Queensland to a Melbourne suburb, with direct communications links to LaRouche's US headquarters established.
League of Rights publications now warn their readers to avoid the CEC, citing attacks on the British Royal Family for supposed drug connections and LaRouche's criminal convictions. They warn that the LaRouche movement is "strongly pro-republican" and that they have received reports that LaRouche's organisation is being used by the Zionists.
In 1996, then-Liberal Party MP Ken Aldred, often tied to the CEC, was disendorsed by the Liberal Party after using parliamentary privilege to make allegations of involvement in espionage and drug trafficking against a prominent Jewish lawyer and a senior foreign affairs official, using documents that were later found to be forged, supplied to him by the CEC.
In the mid-2000s, the party found support from Muslim groups opposed to the detention of suspected terrorists by the United States at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In 2004, the CEC received the largest contribution of any political party, $862,000 from a central Queensland cattle farmer and former CEC candidate named Ray Gillham.
The CEC leader is National Secretary and National Treasurer Craig Isherwood of Melbourne, who has been a CEC election candidate numerous times. Other members of the Isherwood family are also prominent in the CEC; Noelene Isherwood is the party's former National chairman.
In 2001, the Citizens Electoral Council published "What Australia must do to survive the Depression", that outlines the party's policy to enact, development programs, writings by Lyndon LaRouche and a brief "history" of how the CEC was eclipsed by Pauline Hanson's One Nation.
"What Australia must do to survive the Depression" also has draft legislation for "the establishment of a National Bank and State Banks for provide loans at 2% or less to agriculture (family farms), industry and for infrastructure development" that in 2002 they launched a petition drive to support with a full page advertisement in The Australian newspaper. "Rebuild the Country with a People's Bank" being a predominant slogan on their election material.
In early 2008 the CEC started campaigning for a "Bank Homeowners Protection Bill of 2008", calling for legislation in the spirit of the Australian moratorium laws enacted in the 1920s and 1930s.
The party's official platform was:
- The establishment of a "New Bretton Woods International Monetary System".
- The establishment of a National Bank and State Banks.
- The repeal of all federal and state anti-union legislation
- The repeal of recent laws, such as the Australian anti-terrorism legislation, 2004, which the CEC believes have "taken away the civil rights of Australians"
- An immediate halt to the privatisation of Commonwealth and State assets and regulatory bodies
- An immediate moratorium on foreclosures of family farms
- The immediate elimination of the National Competition Policy
- The elimination of the Goods and Services Tax
- The reassertion of national control over Australia's oil and gas and huge mineral resources
- A "dramatic expansion" of resources to all public health facilities
- A "dramatic upgrading" of federal and state infrastructure
- A "real war on drugs"
- The establishment of "generous immigration quotas"
The CEC follows the LaRouche line of scepticism towards the theory of anthropogenic global warming, having lobbied the ABC to screen the film The Great Global Warming Swindle, then packed the audience for a post-program audience discussion with members who made comments about "carbon 14, eugenics, Plato's cave and Nazism", referring to fears of global warming as "Hitler-Nazi race science... this will destroy Africa".
The CEC also makes claims "the Crown, its oil and resource cartels and media assets are responsible for looting Australian Citizens". And declares the party's opposition to "synarchists", which they define as "a name adopted during the Twentieth Century for an occult freemasonic sect, known as the Martinists, based on worship of the tradition of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte... twentieth-Century and later fascist movements, like most terrorist movements, are all Synarchist creations". In opposition the CEC stands for "...a Republic and a government that governs for all the people..."
In its campaign literature, the CEC claims to associate itself with "a tradition" including such Australian figures as the Rev John Dunmore Lang, King O'Malley, William Guthrie Spence, Frank Anstey, Daniel Deniehy, Jack Lang, Ben Chifley and John Curtin. The CEC also seeks to associate itself with a "bygone tradition" of the Australian Labor Party, by which it appears to mean the democratic socialist and protectionist policies abandoned by the ALP since the reforms of Gough Whitlam in the 1960s and 1970s.
The CEC website advocates a number of positions of the worldwide LaRouche movement, including that the Port Arthur massacre, in which Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and injured 37 others, was instigated by mental health institute the Tavistock Institute on the orders of the British Royal Family. and that the Australian Liberal party was founded by pro-Hitler Fascists.
The Anti-Defamation Commission of the Australian branch of B'nai B'rith (an international Jewish organisation) has published a Briefing Paper with details of the CEC's alleged antisemitic, anti-gay, anti-Aboriginal and racist underpinnings. The document cites CEC publications and quotes former CEC members. The CEC in turn has published a response to the ADC's accusations and described the ADC "as a front for Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council, the ruling body of the British Commonwealth". This allegation, that there is a link between the ADC and the alleged power of the Privy Council, has been attributed to the fact that Sir Zelman Cowen, a former Governor-General of Australia and a member of the Privy Council, was a member of the ADC's board of advisors.
Former members of the CEC and families of current members have accused the group of "brainwashing" members and engaging in campaigns involving "dirty tricks". For example, former CEC staffer Donald Veitch has claimed that new recruits undergo "deprogramming sessions" and that recruits are probed for sexual peccadilloes. Veitch has stated: "The mind control operations commenced by Lyndon LaRouche in the USA in the mid-1970s are still being practised today within his movement in Australia".
Despite running in "almost every election of the past two decades" in no election has the CEC ever garnered more than 2% of the vote.
At the 2004 federal election, the party fielded candidates for the Senate and most House of Representatives seats. In some seats it distributed glossy full-colour pamphlets, setting out its views, as well as billboards and television advertising in some areas, suggesting that the party has access to sources of finance greater than its small electoral base would suggest. Australian Electoral Commission records indicate that the CEC had successfully raised several million dollars since 2001. Despite this fundraising, the CEC polled extremely low totals again in 2004. The day after the election, preliminary figures showed that in the House of Representatives the CEC received 34,177 votes, or 0.35% of the national total. In the 95 electorates in which CEC was represented, the CEC came last in 80.
Between September 2005 and January 2006 The Australian reported upon alleged infiltration by the CEC of the National Civic Council, claiming the latter organisation's dismissal of its state executives over the Christmas 2005 period was an internal coup. CEC chairman Noelene Isherwood, while denying outright infiltration, was cited by The Australian's reporter Greg Roberts on 17 September 2005 as saying: "We know that a lot of their [i.e. the NCC's] members are supporters of our ideas. That's good to see."
At the 2007 federal election, the CEC's previous form continued. Its first preference votes in the lower house was 27,879 (0.22%), and 8,677 (0.07%) in the upper house, both results were 0.14% down from 2004. However, in the Northern Territory Senate count, from where a quarter of their vote came, the CEC received 2.01% of the vote, overtaking the Australian Democrats. Territory candidates, however, require a much higher quota to gain election than state candidates.
At the 2016 federal election, CEC fielded senate candidates in every state and the Northern Territory and seven candidates for seats in the House of Representatives. Nationally, the party received 5,175 votes (0.04%) in the lower house and 9,850 votes (0.07%) in the upper house.
The CEC also includes the Australian LaRouche Youth Movement (ALYM), the Australian branch of the International LaRouche Youth Movement. It was founded in August 2002, and focusses on the economic thought of Lyndon LaRouche as well as what they regard as Australia's republican tradition, including figures such as John Curtin, King O'Malley, and John Dunmore Lang.
The ALYM's responsibilities have included managing the groundwork in Federal campaigns, aiding State Campaign efforts, collecting signatures for petitions and mobilising the public and Parliament against anti-terror laws. Members are often found on the streets of Melbourne, home of the National CEC office.
In October 2003 the members of the ALYM, with the help of some members of the International Youth Movement, organised its first "Cadre School". The ALYM hopes to "organise the youth population of the country and harness the enthusiasm and optimism that they offer". The ALYM works for CEC candidates in election campaigns, distributes LaRouche literature and collects signatures for petitions.
The ALYM claims that its membership grew during the 2004 federal election campaign, during which they worked for CEC candidates in three election campaigns in the Melbourne region, in Maribyrnong, Calwell and Melbourne Ports, where they went door-to-door handing out copies of the election edition of the New Citizen, which featured articles on the fight for a National Bank in Australia and the founding of the Australian Liberal Party in the 1940s, and explaining the potential of "LaRouche's New Bretton Woods" and the "dirty state of the Australian political scene".
Twelve ALYM members ran for the House of Representatives and for the Senate in Victoria at the 2004 election. They also managed three flagship campaigns in the Melbourne Region, including the campaign of Aaron Isherwood, himself a member of the ALYM, standing against Michael Danby (one of the few Jewish MPs in the federal parliament and a well-known LaRouche opponent[not in citation given]) in the seat of Melbourne Ports. All candidates were unsuccessful.
- "Party Registration decision: Citizens Electoral Council". Aec.gov.au. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- Citizens Electoral Council of Australia (NSW Division)
- Colebatch, Tim (5 November 2007). "Preference deals take a conventional turn – FederalElection2007News". Melbourne: Theage.com.au. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
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- Election 2013 - Craig Isherwood - SENATE
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- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Eric Butler; Jeremy Lee; Betty Luks; James Reed. "OnTarget Vol.31 – No.34". ALOR. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- Eric Butler; Jeremy Lee; Betty Luks; James Reed (19 October 1990). "OnTarget Vol.26 – No.40". ALOR. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
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- "Fed: Latham gone but the money flowed to ALP, AAP General News Wire. Sydney: 1 February 2005. pg. 1
- "Ex-defence chief shies from 'cult' petition" By Martin Daly The Age 16 June 2004
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- "Community leaders launch bid for new national bank". Abc.net.au. 26 September 2002. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- "Point 2 – Establishment of a National Credit Banking Scheme". Cecaust.com.au. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- "Bank Homeowners Protection Bill in the news". Cooberpedyregionaltimes.wordpress.com. 9 October 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
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- "Minority group in TV hijacking". The Australian. Archived from the original on 16 July 2007.
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- Sweetman, Terry (8 June 2001). "Dark side of the loons". Courier Mail.
- Green, Jonathan (20 May 2004). "Workers of the world, take fright". The Age. Melbourne.
- "LaRouche's Record on Fighting Racism". Citizens Electoral Council of Australia. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- Families fight back, Martin Daly, The Age, 30 January 1996; Dark side of the loons, Terry Sweetman, Courier Mail, 8 June 2001; Parents say candidate brainwashed, Adam Cooper, Australian Associated Press, 19 June 2001; and Jana Wendt (3 October 2004). "On the fringe". nineMSN. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
- Veitch, Don, Beyond Common Sense – Psycho-Politics in Australia, 1996
- "Sex, socialism and shooting lead the charge in microparty race". Sydney Morning Heralddate=20 August 2010. 20 August 2010.
- "First Preferences by Party". Results.aec.gov.au. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- "Candidates for the 2016 federal election". Australian Electoral Commission. 11 June 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- First Preferences by Party – National, AEC
- "Citizens Electoral Council of Australia". www.cecaust.com.au.
- The (Victoria) Age: "Workers of the world, take fright"
- The Australian: Putsch to extremes[permanent dead link]
- The (Victoria) Age:"Fascist Australia" (about CEC)
- Green Left Weekly: "Beware of the Citizen’s Electoral Council!"
- The Age: "Families fight back"
- Courier Mail: "Dark side of the loons"
- Australian Associated Press: "Parents say candidate brainwashed"
- nineMSN: "On the fringe"
- Australian Electoral Commission website
- CEC page on Australian Electoral Commission Website
- Catholic News reports charges of CEC infiltration of the National Civic Council
- AIJAC: Taking Extremism Seriously