Who are the minor and micro-parties competing for a the votes of the denizens of Western Australia? Yesterday we told you about the minor parties you might have heard of, such as One Nation and Family First. But today we go into truly fringe territory and will introduce you to the ultra-marginal, single-issue or just plain strange.
Julie Matheson for Western Australia
Julie Matheson doesn’t like what she sees as eastern states’ domination over WA — her website proudly proclaims that she and her candidate are “parochial Western Australians”. There’s a small-government focus — she wants to abolish all payroll tax, household tax and vehicle utilities, and shut down the Planning Commission, WA’s Environmental Protection Agency and 21 other “shonky” (a word she uses a lot) government agencies. The recurring theme of the party’s policy is a distrust of lawyers in public agencies.
“Agencies are run by lawyers rather than expertise,” Matheson told Crikey. “If I were premier, that would change.”
Micro Business Party
Recently merged with the Small Business Party of WA (and taking on their secretary and former liberal candidate Cam Tinley as a candidate), the MPB seeks to bridge the gap between Labor’s traditional worker focus and the Liberals’ eye on the “big end of town” and focus on the issues facing small or micro businesses in Western Australia. Apart from a predictable focus on small business issues such as raising the payroll tax threshold and increasing apprentice numbers, the party opposes the privatisation of public works like Western Power and wants support for farmers promoting non-GMO food.
Fluoride Free WA Party
The registration of a political party offshoot of the Fluoride Free WA advocacy group was initially “largely for advertising purposes,” upper house candidate John Watt told Crikey.
“It started in September last year, when we submitted a petition to Parliament of over 7000 signatures, and it was virtually put in the bin, totally ignored,” he said. “We were advised if you found a political party, the phrase ‘fluoride free’ would be on every ballot paper. So at least every voting person in Western Australia would ask ‘wait, isn’t fluoride good for your teeth?'”
But this was turned on its head when ABC electoral analyst Antony Green said preference deals could mean as few as 750 votes (or 0.2%) could get Fluoride Free elected.
“It’s fantastic,” Watt said. “But I think we’ll get more than 0.2% of the vote.”
FFWA is single-issue, but the party has reams of information as to why mandatory water fluoridation should be opposed on its website. The party sees the issue in terms of personal health, freedom of choice and regulation of medicines, among many other things. Single issue, faintly conspiratorial, thrust into unexpected levels of responsibility by the quirks of voting? Is it optimistic to hope we have another Ricky Muir on our hands?
Daylight Savings Party
The party does pretty much what it says on the tin.
“We’re looking at getting a lower house candidate elected to advocate for the introduction of daylight savings, without the need to go to a referendum,” party leader Wilson Tucker said. WA has had four referendums on daylight savings, in 1975, 1984, 1992 and finally in 2009 following a three-year trial. In each case, it was rejected. The party’s other policies all flow from the improvements it sees daylight savings bringing: helping the environment (“less use of lights”), and improving physical and mental health (“more outside time”).
Animal Justice Party
“We’re not a single-issue party, but we are a single-purpose party — that is, everything we do relates to the welfare of animals,” WA convener Katrina Love told Crikey. “But we have a raft of policies across different areas — we’re probably the least single-issue of the minor parties.”
Love conceded the party’s chances at the election are “slim to zero”.
“This is because we didn’t participate in the minor party preference swap deal, because it would have meant swapping preferences with the Shooters and Fishers party, and we simply were not going to preference them ahead of, say, the Greens,” she said. “So we lost out on preferences, but we kept our integrity.”
Socialist Alliance WA
Socialist Alliance WA is running candidates in the seats of Fremantle and Willagee and two in the South Metropolitan division of the upper house. SA advocates for abolishing “the institutions that protect and defend this ruling elite, like Parliament, and the military”, the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and a range of social (LGBTQI+ rights, indigenous issues, civil liberties) and environmental issues. The party has not gotten near state or federal representation in the past, but has had two councillors elected in Moreland and Fremantle.
Describing its platform as “issue based direct democracy”, Flux wants to allow registered Western Australian voters to direct how elected Flux members vote on legislation via what the party describes as the “highly secure” Flux app. Of course, that leaves something of a vacuum in terms of policy promises. Does Flux voters actually know what they are voting for? Campaign manager Daithi Gleeson told Crikey Flux’s position was that people needed a more direct say in the legislation that gets introduced into Parliament.
“If you put it to people like that, that they can decide on an issue by issue basis where they stand, rather than being polled every three years on whether they agree with a certain ideological position, they really respond,” he said.
Gleeson said he believed the party had a “better than 50% chance” of having a candidate elected.