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Aug 19, 2013

WikiLeaks Party's 'administrative errors' incense Greens

A decision by the WikiLeaks Party to direct preferences away from Julian Assange's strongest political supporter has incensed supporters. They should have known better.


The fledgling WikiLeaks Party has inflicted major damage on itself after a disastrous preference allocation that saw it preferencing far-right parties, apologising for an “administrative error” and preferencing the WA Nationals ahead of Julian Assange’s strongest political supporter, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

The Senate preference allocations revealed yesterday showed, in New South Wales, WikiLeaks had preferenced the right-wing Shooters and Fishers Party and the extreme-right Australia First Party, run by convicted criminal and former neo-Nazi Jim Saleam, ahead of the Greens and the major parties. Australia First wants to end all immigration and to restore the death penalty.

Soon after the release of the preferences and a firestorm of criticism erupted on social media, the party issued a statement on its Facebook page blaming the preferencing on “some administrative errors”.

The “error”, the exact nature of which remains unexplained, appears to have particularly incensed progressive voters who had assumed WikiLeaks would be a left-wing, Greens-style party. However, Julian Assange has already criticised the Greens’ totemic asylum seeker policy as “simplistic and foolish” during the campaign and backed offshore processing, while criticising both the major parties on the issue. On the weekend, Assange said he admired US libertarian Republicans Ron and Rand Paul, though he expressed concern about their position on issues like abortion. Swapping preferences with minor parties of very different orientations is also standard practice for all parties. One party source told Crikey the “administrative error” in NSW was quite intentional and aimed at the Greens.

However, the fury over the party’s decision to preference the Nationals ahead of the Greens in Western Australia is unrelated to ideology: the decision reduces the chances of the Greens’ Scott Ludlam, who faces a challenge to hang onto his Senate spot, being re-elected.

Ludlam has been Assange’s strongest supporter inside federal Parliament, hounding the government over its lack of support for him and its dealings with the US over its campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks. Ludlam travelled to Europe at his own expense in 2011 to talk to Swedish authorities and Australian officials in the UK about the case.

[pullquote position=”right”]The decision to preference the Nationals’ David Wirrpanda ahead of Ludlam, strengthening the chances of the Nationals snaring the sixth Senate spot ahead of the Greens, is thus an extraordinary betrayal[/pullquote]. The party’s WA Volunteer Coordinator, journalist and former political staffer Natalie Banks, announced her resignation after the allocation was revealed.

According to the party’s campaign director Greg Barns, the decision to preference the Nationals ahead of the Greens was made by the party’s main Senate candidate in Western Australia, Gerry Georgatos. Georgatos is an investigative journalist and former Greens member who broke with the party and sought to establish a party called “the Real Greens” in 2009.

Georgatos told Crikey he understood the Australian political landscape and had his “finger on the pulse”: “I’m a conviction politician and we haven’t done any deals for preferences. It’s all merit-based. Scott Ludlam will get all these votes. Wirrpanda won’t get any more than 3-4%.”

Ludlam, Georgatos claimed, was a “shoo-in” for the sixth spot and might even get the fifth Senate spot; it was, he said, “disingenuous” and “bullshit” to suggest Wirrpanda — a “good human being” — was a serious threat to Ludlam. “He’s our effective first preference. The work he’s done with Julian Assange is to be commended. All power to him,” he said.

But, Georgatos says, he himself has done a considerable amount of work among the disadvantaged in Western Australia. “And I don’t expect paybacks,” he said.

The Pirate Party, which isn’t running in the WA Senate race, revealed its own preference allocation methodology yesterday, based on a ballot of members. The party also endorsed Ludlam.

Georgatos’s confidence in Ludlam’s chances is shared by precisely no one else either within the Greens or elsewhere; Antony Green has explained in detail why the Nationals are a serious contender for a fourth conservative Senate spot in the west. If it’s the Nationals, the WikiLeaks Party will have helped drive from the Senate the Australian politician who has done more for Assange than any other.

Ludlam himself sees the preferencing decisions as clearly hostile, but he’s getting on with his “day job” of campaigning. “We’ve all got jobs to do,” he said.


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41 thoughts on “WikiLeaks Party’s ‘administrative errors’ incense Greens

  1. Xoanon

    I had planned to preference Wikileaks after the Greens below the line on the Victorian Senate paper. But after this bit of bastardry – made worse by lying about an “administrative error” – they’re getting shunted way down past Labor.

  2. Andybob

    I couldn’t see anywhere that the Wikileaks Party had changed its preference decision. Blaming an ‘administrative error’ but keeping the decision unchanged is neither transparent nor honest. The party has abandoned its own principles at the first hurdle.

  3. paddy

    Whether it’s a stuff up or a conspiracy, the Wikileaks Party has just blown its supporter base to bits.
    It’s not like the supporters aren’t net savvy and haven’t noticed the outrage on Twitter and Facebook.
    An altogether #epicfail

  4. Interrobanging On

    The betrayal of Ludlam is vile.

  5. Gavin Moodie

    Until recently the Wikileaks Party’s position on the political spectrum has been ambiguous. Its web site isn’t very informative, yet Assange had made comments supporting a more libertarian than socially progressive stance. Now all doubts are removed.

  6. Julia Gollan

    This is a really foolish move on behalf of WikiLeaks Party, I couldn’t agree more with Paddy about the destruction to the supporter base (I’m part of it, and I’m appalled!). Bernard contrasts the effective grass roots approach taken by Pirate Party with the complete lack of consultation re preferences amongst WikiLeaks Party members. It’s a very disappointing scenario!

  7. zut alors

    A text book example of lack of political experience. The ‘administrative error’ is an insult to any thinking voter.

    Previously it was disappointing that, being resident in Queensland where there are no candidates, I was unable to vote for the Wikileaks Party. No regrets now.

  8. Venise Alstergren

    A good question to be thought about is, is the Wikileaks Party presumptuous and devious, or merely amateurish? By now it looks as if they are a combination of all three.

  9. mikeb

    Barns has never been backwards in criticising the Greens during his frequent media utterances over the years. This move is not surprising.

  10. Venise Alstergren

    Why oh why, Mr/s moderating machine, are all my comments moderated?

  11. David R

    A huge block of left and progressive voters who might have voted for Wikileaks will now have shifted their votes to the Greens or Pirate Party. This is probably a good thing for the Greens in NSW and Victoria. However, if the WA National gets elected with Wikileaks’ preferences that will be a huge blow for progressive politics in Australia. The NSW preference deal seems to show that Wikileaks more closely identifies with right wing libertarian politics than it does with the left wing progressives.

  12. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    Dodgy As. I’m with you on this one Xoanon. I’m preferencing below the line in the senate and I’m going to shunt Wikileaks down a little further now.

  13. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    BTW – there is a tool for pre-preparing your numbering in the senate here: http://belowtheline.org.au/. It should be available soon.

  14. beachcomber

    Maybe WikiLeaks itself is the “error”.

    Surely they knew what they were doing. The Greens have more in common with them than the neo-Nazi’s, so picking preferences should be easy.

    If you can’t tell your friends from your enemies, you shouldn’t be running for office.

  15. zut alors

    Much obliged to you for the link, Shaniq’ua.

  16. Venise Alstergren

    SHANIQ’UA SHARDONN’AY: Thanks for an excellent link.

  17. John64

    “Administrative error”? So, I assume the WikiLeaks Party will be releasing all internal e-mails and documents related to the negotiations publicly so that the truth of this error will be shown in broad daylight. Right?



    Yeah, right.

  18. JStephens

    I’ve just unsubscribed from their newsletter. I am a Green and have always been a supporter of Wikileaks, including making small donations to them. But that will now cease. The Greens have far more integrity.

  19. klewso

    More than a prick – this is harakiri stuff.

    But how many people voting for “Assange” would follow this sort of errant nonsense in directing preferences?
    Wouldn’t they be more inclined to vote with their heads?

  20. Rob Hamos

    “The “error”, the exact nature of which remains unexplained, appears to have particularly incensed progressive voters who had assumed WikiLeaks would be a left-wing, Greens-style party.”

    I agree with you all re the so called error. I also agree and understand re the treatment of Scott Ludlam, although, if in fact he is a “shoe-in” then maybe there is some merit in their thinking. It may not necessarily be a betrayal.

    But, why does the WikiLeaks Party have to be Left Wing, or any Wing for that matter. Why can’t it be all things to all people? Why can’t it be both Libertarian and socially progressive casting a wider net of appeal?

    We all call for a political approach outside the square but as soon as it appears we cry foul.

  21. AR

    Incompetence or malignity, a ludicrous position for WIKI to be in. I wonder how many of its activists are undercover spooks, as with the CPA membership of old being mostly ASIOe et al.
    More incomprehensible is Xenophon’s reported preference flow going Lib/Lab rather than to the Greens’ SH-Y.
    Please tell me it ain’t true.

  22. Serenatopia

    Ludlam flew at his own expense to defend Assange…Wiki has seriously Leaked on him!

  23. Djbekka

    OK, here is a ‘party’ either led by or supporting a man who is in ‘exile’ so he doesn’t have to answer questions about his personal sexual behaviour on the basis of a fear that looks a lot like a conspiracy theory about how governments behave. Why be surprised that the preference deals are also self serving?

    Sure more transparency in government is good but not everyone who calls for transparency is much interested in building a fairer world.

    Voters who want to decide for themselves should look at the site suggested above and make their own ‘how to vote’ for the Senate. Take it to the polling station and follow it.

  24. WDUFO

    @Rob Hamos

    You are so politically unsophisticated, almost naive.

  25. supermundane

    Whilst I’ve long supported Julian Assange against the charges laid against him and his efforts to expose unaccountable and opaque power I’ve long been unsettled by his political and ideological views, which at best, can be described as ambiguous. There is a very telling interview with Forbes magazine in 2010:

    Forbes: “Would you call yourself a free market proponent?”
    Assange: “Absolutely. I have mixed attitudes towards capitalism, but I love markets…To put it simply, in order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information…For a market to be free, people have to know who they’re dealing with”.

    This strikes me as profoundly Austrian school-leaning anarcho-capitalist or Rothbardian rather than left-progressive or even left-anarchist. In essence, Assange appears to advocate for a more extreme form of neoliberalism and a perfection of the status-quo rather than a serious challenge to it.

    In the Forbes article, Assange asserts: “It’s not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I’ve learned from many. But one is American libertarianism, market libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I’m a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free.

    WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical.”

    Like the Silicon Valley behemoths such as Google, the hacker and cypherpunk culture out of which Assange arose, contends that the myriad of complex and multi-faceted problems facing the world essentially boil down to imperfect or incomplete information. Silicon Valley and cypherpunk culture alike are imbued with what Evgeny Movazov has termed, an ideology of ‘solutionism’ – where all social and political issues can be recast as quantifiable problems whose objective solution involves the application of a particular technics.

    However, where Google wishes to contralise the ‘problem-solving’ in their own hands bypassing the messiness of social and political institutions, Assange desires to throw it open to the ‘markets’.

  26. supermundane

    Thus, in my view, Google and Assange are flip-sides of the same coin. They are quintessentially neoliberal – a utopian vision of the status quo – a radicalised version of our neoliberal present – that is that tending towards perfect information will invariably result in more perfect markets. That society is an information processing system requiring tweaks and optimisations and appropriate resource allocations in order for information to flow more freely.

    Although nebulous, areading of Assange’s own words on his position and the aims of Wikileaks puts him firmly in the anarcho-capitalist camp infused with the crypte-anarchic belief that ‘freeing’ information breaks monopolies and the concentration of power.

  27. supermundane

    Why the moderation Crikey? Please fix this. There is nothing in my latest post meriting moderation. The moderation system is infuriating because it’s so arbitrary.

  28. Ian

    Disgusting and truly stupid. Where did the Wikileaks Party think it support would come from if not the progressive left. The right is by and large their enemy.

    The trouble is now that the Greens will be left with the impossible task of creating awareness amongst progressives in general that a vote for Wikileaks will not harm the Greens. Too little time for that.

    I wonder if the potential beneficiaries of the Wikileaks preferences will be out their advertising the deal. Not likely.

  29. BSA Bob

    After an initial burst of feelgood enthusiasm, I’ve simply regarded Assange as a user. Just more people who’ve stumped up support or dosh to help him & been shat on. They should have known better.

  30. Suzanne Blake

    Labor have done nothing about Assange, I guess they figure the LNP will.

  31. supermundane

    In short, while I commend Assange on exposing atrocities and abuses of power, and helping to make us more cogniscent of the cosy relationship that exists between the military-industrial complex, pharma, agribusiness, silicon valley and the state against the common good and while I firmly believe that the charges in Sweden smack of a witch-hunt and of the overreaching power of the interests that he has helped expose to sunlight I also find the philosophical and ideological underpinnings for his actions, questionable at best. As a person with left-anarchic leanings, I contend that he ultimately stands for the tyranny of information as an instrumentalist power and hold to a view that the markets are both rational and morally neutral, which is something I vehemently disagree with. The virtue of the markets brings its own tyranny.

  32. supermundane

    I’m therefore not surprised at this turn of events. Assange isn’t of the left – a study of crypto-anarchism (arising from the anarcho-capitalist position) should alone tell anyone that. It shouldn’t be assumed that anyone who opposed imperialism is by default ‘of the left’.

  33. Alex Carter

    From what I’m hearing this was already known. But even if it were an administrative error we should expect more from our political parties. I had some hopes for WikiLeaks but for what it’s worth (and that’s probably not much) now they’ll find a place down with the parties they’ve placed above the Greens when I place my vote. The Greens have form and have garnered my trust through the years and WikiLeaks Party? So far just this idiotic or deplorable (depending on who you talk to)incident really.

  34. Anon

    The Wikileaks Party doesn’t ‘have’ to be anything—and, frankly, as a progressive, I find their refusal to toe the orthodox left-wing line somewhat refreshing—but screwing over Ludlam (pretty much the only decent politician in parliament) is beyond the pale, particularly in the senate where many will vote above the line. If it’s an administrative error, it needs to be fixed ASAP; otherwise, to be honest, I’m seriously considering canceling my party membership.

  35. Malcolm Street

    I was going to say WTF, but I think supermundane has his finger on it – he’s coming from the libertarian Right. It would be ironic if this decision elected a National – they’re the complete opposite of libertarians, socially conservative and economically interventionist.

    If it was just an “administrative error”, why not correct it?

    Anyway, that’s any thoughts of voting Wikileaks out the window.

    And yet again what gratitude to show Scott Ludlam!

  36. bluepoppy

    Agree with most of the comments. This was a huge blunder and while the party may not like the preference system the reality is under the current arrangements preferences have to be made. One would think this most likely to be for parties who share similar policies especially about how information is shared and about corruption.

    Lots of mixed messages from the Wikileaks Party camp. Especially as one candidate tweeted in defence of the preferences that the Greens were responsible for supporting sending refugees to “Gulags” (tweet now deleted) while Assange says Greens policy simplistic and supported offshore processing. Contradictory statements. As if the Nationals, Shooters and Conservative parties would not be worse on the issue of asylum seekers.

    Scott Ludlam as a vocal support of Wikileaks and Assange must be wondering what the hell….

  37. Ian

    It’s not only Scott Ludlam but all the Greens that supported Wikileaks. Scot has been the spokesman for them on the issue.

  38. Ajsta

    Gerry obviously can’t count if he thinks “Scott Ludlum is in”. If the 2010 result held true for the 2013 preferences then the preferences for the Sex Party & Labor would flow through to the Greens and they would get 17.97% of the vote, which easily enough to get into the Senate (14.3% = quota). If Libs/Nats increase their primary vote by 2% (highly feasible) then if Wikileaks Party get 2% of the vote (reducing Labor/Green primary) their preferences will flow through to the Nationals leading to Wirrpunda getting the final senate seat (Greens stuck on 13.97%).

    If I was a betting man, I’d say the Greens are probably a 50/50 chance to retain their seat but will depend on how much the Labor/Green vote goes down and how much Libs/Nats vote goes up. Given the enmity between Gerry and the Wikileaks Party base in WA (indicated by the resignation of pretty much all their volunteers), I can’t see him getting more than 1% of the vote.

    Ref: 2010 Senate Results

  39. Interrobanging On


    Informed progressive potential wikileaks voters should shun them now, especially in WA with the knifing of Ludlam.

    But a wild card might be how many Internet Libertarian Nerds emerge blinking into the sunlight on election day with the idea of voting for Wikileaks because Assange is cool and against ‘The Man’ on the Internet. Even if their libertarianism only extends to wanting the freedom to download illegal torrents with no sanction.

  40. J Goj

    It seems to me that the reason WA candidate Georgatos preferences the WA National candidate Wirrpanda is because he wanted to show support to a candidate of Indigenous background, a group he has passionately and intimately worked with in his capacity as an investigative journalist and human rights campaigner. I do not think it was a hostile gesture to the Greens Candidate Ludlam. Georgatos has said that he acknowledges the great political support Ludlam has provided to Assange. While the Greens have said that it should never be assumed that any candidate is a “shoo in”, Georgatos obviously feels different and that it is near certain that Ludlam will not be affected by the flow of preferences to Wirrpanda. The reasoning behind Georgatos’ decision is simply a gesture of a show of support to an Indigenous candidate rather than than a hostile one directed to the Greens.

  41. Leo Braun

    “A good question to be thought about is, is the Wikileaks Party presumptuous and devious, or merely amateurish? By now it looks as if they are a combination of all three”!

    • Indeed, fooled citizen such as myself awaited in vain to receive the membership card, yet instead of the formally issued attestation by the WikiLeaks Party, having to face their cavalier styled email: “With the election date set for Sept 7 exciting days lie ahead as we take the fight to Canberra. We’re proud to have you with us”!

    “We’re pleased to link to your WikiLeaks Party membership card. Simply fill in your name and your unique membership number 645 and you are ready to print or share a copy on Facebook, Twitter and beyond. Let everyone know you’re part of the party that stands for Transparency, Accountability and Justice”!

    • Although earlier, 18 Apr 2013 email dispatched from John Shipton, Secretary WikiLeaks Party, informed me: “Dear Leo, thank you for your application to join the WikiLeaks Party, I am pleased to advise that your membership is now confirmed”.

    “As a foundation member of the party you may be contacted by the Australian Electoral Commission to confirm your membership for the purpose of registering the party. The AEC will check 50 of our first 550 members by phone or email. Your assistance in providing this confirmation to the AEC is appreciated”.

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