Image Source: ABC News
By David McManus Jr | @davidmcmanusjr
There are 16 different political parties for South Australians to choose from in the Senate in the upcoming federal election, with each party fielding between two and four candidates.
It remains a priority for voters to know who they are voting for in a democratic process, but the obscurity of the so-called ‘micro parties’ often causes confusion.
Australia knows the Liberal-National Coalition as its major centre-right party, the Labor Party as its centre-left, the left-wing Greens as the largest alternative to the two main parties, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation as the smaller, nationalist alternative to the Coalition.
Australians are left on their own to discern the beliefs of the other parties that occupy less media time.
This list provides a short background on the history of the other 12 parties and what they stand for, to help you make a more informed decision this Saturday.
The Great Australian Party
Former One Nation Senator Rodney Culleton founded The Great Australian Party after resigning from One Nation in 2016.
Culleton is no longer in the Senate after the High Court ruled him ineligible in early 2017.
This party claims that the current court system is invalid and propose constitutional law reform, the end to the Family Court of Australia, the abolition of personal income tax and the nationalisation of the Commonwealth Bank.
Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party
Fraser Anning founded the party after he was expelled from Katter’s Australian Party for racist comments on immigration, having already resigned from One Nation.
Mr Anning’s party prioritises social traditionalism and economic nationalism along with strict restrictions on immigration.
Nick Xenophon founded the Nick Xenophon Team on the platform of opposing digital poker machines, but later expanded it to encompass a broader political identity.
The party was renamed Centre Alliance following Mr Xenophon’s departure from politics.
Centre Alliance focuses primarily on South Australia, acting as a compromise to the division between the left and right in the current political landscape.
Centrist economic policies and social liberalism guide their policy positions, which include supporting same-sex marriage, action on climate change and the legalisation of euthanasia.
The party further reinforced its economic positions through a statement given by the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekah Sharkie, in which she announced the party’s opposition to the dividend imputation arrangements endorsed by Labor.
The Australian Democrats formed in 1977, following the merger of two minor parties that split from the Coalition.
It was the largest minor party from its formation until 2004.
Similar to the Centre Alliance, the Australian Democrats considers itself to be a centrist party that is not bound to represent ideological interests.
They emphasise the importance of supporting regional Australia.
Citizens Electoral Council
The Citizens Electoral Council (CEC) formed as the Australian branch of the global LaRouche movement, which seeks left-wing economic reform and views climate change as fake.
The CEC has also generated controversy over claims that members are “brainwashed” and need to be “deprogrammed” in order to be free of the party rhetoric.
Sustainable Australia formed in 2010 as a centrist party interested in limiting immigration due to economic and environmental concerns.
The party promotes economic protectionism from foreign purchasing with the intent to fix the housing market in Australia.
Timothy Tedmanson is a supporter of Sustainable Australia and a voter in the upcoming election.
“I support the Sustainable Australia party because—in the current climate of culture-war politics—it’s nice to see a group of moderate people take progressive yet responsible and considerate stances on energy, immigration and housing without throwing any Australians under the bus,” Mr Tedmanson said.
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party
The HEMP Party (based in the cannabis capital of Australia—Nimbin, NSW) is devoted to the decriminalisation and deregulation of marijuana for both medical and recreational usage.
The party views Australia’s attitudes towards the drug as being draconian compared to the laws of other countries.
HEMP party secretary and Medicinal Cannabis Limited founder Andrew Kavasilas has been campaigning for marijuana law reform for years.
“HEMP will step up as the buck-passing continues and make sure the federal government adopts an imperative approach which brings the states and territories together to develop a meaningful cannabis regime that will appropriately address the needs and concerns of an increasingly significant number of Australians currently using cannabis every day for medical purposes,” Mr Kavasilas said.
United Australia Party
Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) distinguishes itself through its policies and heavy marketing conducted by the party.
Formerly known as the Palmer United Party, the UAP is vehemently pro-market, pro-mining and anti-centralisation of government.
It intends to implement measures to reduce climate change, such as the use of carbon pricing and nuclear power.
The Australian Conservatives started in 2016 following SA Senator Cory Bernardi’s departure from the Liberal Party over ideological differences.
The party supports the reduction of government power overthe economy, with plans to support tax cuts and privatisation across the public sector, along with a socially conservative ethos that is antithetical to that of The Greens or Labor’s left-wing faction.
STEM student at the University of Adelaide Khuong Nguyen said, “I am voting for Australian Conservatives, as they are a voice for traditional Australian values and history.”
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party formed in 1992 as a response to New South Wales’ Firearms Legislation (Amendment) Act (1992) and the perceived marginalisation of regional Australians.
As the name of the party suggests, their target demographicmainly consists of firearms users, fishers and farmers.
The party’s policies outline an overhaul of the restrictions placed on gun laws and public lands.
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) formed in 2001 with roots in economic conservatism and social liberalism, resulting in policies that are reflective of both classical liberalism and right–wing libertarianism.
The party shares economic stances with the Australian Conservatives but is supportive of recreational and medicinal drug reform, marriage equality, firearm law reform, ending taxes on alcohol and tobacco, the legalisation of assisted suicide and an emphasis on the increased decentralisation of federal policy.
Senate candidate for the Queensland LDP Gabriel Buckley reiterated his stance on why the LDP is a good alternative for voters.
“The conduct of others should only be held to the requirement that it be peaceful, voluntary and provide no impediment to others wishing to go about their lawful business,” Mr Buckley said.
“The Liberal Democrats seek to change the fundamental nature of politics in Australia—to do what is right, regardless of whether or not it is popular.”
Animal Justice Party
Animal rights activist Richard Poon formed the Animal Justice Party (AJP) to review the environmental social, ethical, health and economic considerations of dietary choices.
A manifesto is available on the AJP website, along with policy stances which support the discontinuation of live animal exports, detail the consequences of the livestock industry as it is in Australia today, and suggest possible alternatives for the future.