Party registration decision: Socialist Alliance

Updated: 4 January 2011

Party entered in the Register of Political Parties

File reference: Reg2466, 07/318

The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the application by the Socialist Alliance to be registered as a political party under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 should be accepted and the Party entered in the Register of Political Parties.

Background

On 5 June 2007, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from the Socialist Alliance (the Party) for registration as a political party under the provisions of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act).

The Party's application was advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette and in 10 newspapers circulating in the various states and territories on Friday, 20 July 2007. No objections were received.

On 3 August 2007, the delegate of the AEC conducted a series of tests usually undertaken as part of the initial consideration of the Party's application and issued a letter to the Party suggesting the Party:

  • clarify the role of secretary in the Party's constitution; and
  • provide proof the Party is related to the other registered Socialist Alliance parties in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania as required by section 123 of the Act.

The National Coordinator of the Party responded on 18 August 2007 declaring the position he holds equates to that of "secretary" as defined in section 123 of the Act and provided evidence he was elected to that position at the Fifth National Conference. The Party also provided individual letters from the state registered parties in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania stating they are state branches of the Socialist Alliance and thus related to the national organisation.

Relevant legal provisions

Political parties may apply for registration for the purposes of federal elections in accordance with the requirements of Part XI of the Electoral Act. The Electoral Act requires the AEC to maintain a publicly available 'Register of Political Parties'.

The provisions specifically relevant for the current application under consideration are sections 4, 123, 124, 126, 129, 132, 132A and 133 of the Electoral Act. An extract of the relevant provisions is available adjacent to this notice on this website.

In relation to this Party, the relevant provisions require it to:

  • be an organisation with an aim of promoting candidates it endorses for election to the House of Representatives and/or the Senate (section 4);
  • be eligible for registration (section 123), that is have either at least 500 members eligible to be on the electoral roll, or a member who is a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, that have not been relied upon for registration by another political party;
  • make application for registration in the manner prescribed in section 126; and
  • propose a name and optional abbreviation for registration that is not prohibited by section 129.

Application of relevant legal provisions

Political party

The Party meets the definition as it is an organisation based on a constitution. The Party was registered as a political party with the AEC between January 2002 and December 2006 and is registered in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

The Party's constitution includes an objective to endorse 'candidates to contest elections for local and state government representatives and for the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate'. The AEC believes the Party meets the test of being a political party under the Electoral Act.

Application

The application conforms to the requirements in section 126 of the Electoral Act, in that it:

  • is made by ten members of the Party, of whom one is the secretary of the Party;
  • sets out the names and addresses of the applicants and particulars of the capacity in which each applicant makes the application;
  • sets out the name, address and signature of the person who is to be the registered officer of the Party;
  • sets out the name of the Party and the abbreviation that the Party wishes to be able to use for the purposes of the Act;
  • includes a list of the names of at least 500 members of the Party to be relied on for the purposes of registration and copies of their membership applications;
  • states whether the Party wishes to receive moneys under Division 3 of Part XX of the Act;
  • is accompanied by a copy of the constitution of the Party and is accompanied by a statutory declaration affirming the membership details.

The applicant Party was de-registered on 27 December 2006 as a result of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006 (the 2006 Amendment Act). Item 4 in Schedule 3 of the 2006 Amending Act provides for the waiver of the normal application fee where a party deregistered by force of Schedule 3 makes an application to re-register within 12 months of the commencement of the Schedule.

The Party has satisfied the technical requirements in section 126 for an application for party registration.

Secretary

Section 123 of the Electoral Act defines a party secretary as the person who hold the office that is responsible for carrying out the administration and the conduct of correspondence for the party.

The AEC noted that the role of secretary was not well defined in the Party's constitution with the only reference to a secretary being made in clause 8.3 which stated that 'each branch meeting shall have a chair and a minutes secretary'.

The Party has now rectified this issue, providing the AEC with the declaration from the National Coordinator that in that role he performs the role of "secretary" as defined in section 123 of the Electoral Act.

The Party passes this test.

Membership

Section 123 of the Electoral Act requires a non-Parliamentary party to have at least 500 members (who are entitled to enrolment).

The criterion for membership including the payment of a membership fee is set out in the party's constitution and the statutory declaration by the secretary states that each of the members on the list has been accepted as a member of the party in accordance with the rules of the party.

To test that a party has 500 members who are entitled to enrolment, the AEC:

  • removes from the list members under 17 years of age;
  • removes any duplicate memberships on the list;
  • removes people who have already been used by another party to establish its eligibility for registration; and
  • conducts a random test for fraudulent membership.

The test for fraudulent membership involves contacting a random sample of 20 people from the membership list by phone and by mail if necessary. Where more than one of the randomly selected people from the membership list cannot be confirmed as a member, then the membership test has been failed.

A random sample check of 20 members was completed in July 2007 where 19 out of 20 members confirmed their membership. A check against all available membership lists was conducted, and of the 508 members provided by the Party, no duplicates were found.

The AEC is of the view that the Party has demonstrated that there is no fraud in its membership list and that it has the 500 members to be eligible for registration.

Constitution

The Party has an up-to-date constitution that was provided with its application. The constitution contains the following matters relevant to registration:

  • an aim of promoting candidates for election to the Federal Parliament;
  • a secretary with a well defined role; and
  • membership criteria.

The Party passes this test.

Party name

Section 129 prohibits the registration of parties with certain names. Specifically, the name shall not be approved if any of the following conditions are met:

  • more than six words;
  • perceived to be obscene;
  • the name, abbreviation, or acronym of the name of another political party (not being a political party that is related to the applicant party) that is a recognised political party;
  • so nearly resembling the name, abbreviation, or acronym of the name of another recognised political party (not being a political party that is related to the applicant party) that it is likely to be confused with that other recognised political party;
  • one that a reasonable person would think, suggests a connection or relationship with another registered political party, if that relationship does not exist;
  • comprised of the words 'Independent Party';
  • comprised of, or contains, the word 'Independent', and the name, abbreviation or acronym of a recognised political party; or
  • comprised of, or contains, the word 'Independent' and matter, that so nearly resembles the name, or an abbreviation or acronym of the name of a recognised political party, that the matter is likely to be confused with, or mistaken for, that recognised political party.
There are several socialist parties registered at state level as set out in this table.
REGISTER REGISTERED NAME REGISTERED ABBREVIATION
NSW Socialist Alliance no abbreviation
Vic Socialist Alliance (Victoria) not shown on VEC website
Tas Socialist Alliance not shown on TEC website

Paragraph 129(1)(d) of the Electoral Act means that the Socialist Alliance needs to show that it and each of the above parties are related parties in terms of the definition in section 123 of the Electoral Act to be able to register its name and abbreviation. The Party's constitution states that it is a "coalition of socialist parties and socialist individuals supporting a common action platform".

The party provided evidence in the form of individual letters from the states concerned to demonstrate that it is the federal arm of the Socialist Alliance and that it is related to all the other parties registered.

Conclusion

The application from the Socialist Alliance to be registered as a political party is approved.

Paul Dacey
Deputy Electoral Commissioner
Delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission
4 September 2007

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