I’m going to try to explain who Australia’s minor political parties are again because there’s never been a more important time to have some idea of who all of these people are. For a start, the recent Senate reforms mean that you have to vote for at least six groups even if you’re voting above the line (or at least twelve candidates below the line) so you need to know of at least a few parties you’d like to vote for. Also, as this is a double dissolution election, the percentage of the vote that a candidate needs in order to be elected to the Senate is halved, so your vote is more likely to be a deciding vote! There’s a huge amount of candidates running – which probably won’t be the case in the next election after most of these people don’t get any of their money back – so let’s get into it. I recommend using something like ClueyVoter to keep track of how you prefer each party compared to the others and then printing out the results to take with you on polling day.
I obviously have my own political beliefs but I’ve tried to stay relatively impartial out of respect for yours and just focus on the policies. I’m not covering the four largest parties (Liberal/National, Labor and Greens) because I assume everyone is already familiar with what they stand for and knows how they feel about them already. This list covers all of the parties standing in Victoria and NSW this election.
If you’re really keen, I’ve also written about the Independents running in Victoria and NSW.
The Arts Party
A left wing progressive party that want the creative industries to be much better supported and funded, as well as more accessible for everyone. They propose funding these measures by legalising and taxing cannabis. There’d be a joke in this, but most of the groups on this list have the same idea. Their policies outside of the arts are similar to those of the Greens.
Australian Christians / Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
The Australian Christians are mainly the WA & Victorian branches of the CDP, who split from the party a few years ago. Despite the rebranding, their policies are almost word-for-word identical, so I’ve bundled them together. As hard-line, conservative Catholics, their party stance on social issues is an unsurprisingly reactionary: they’re against reproductive rights, equal marriage, adoption by same-sex couples, sex work, the Safe Schools program, euthanasia, divorce, pornography and IVF treatment.
Australian Country Party
The ACP was formerly known as the Australian Country Alliance, which itself was a merger between a smaller rural-interests party and the Victorian wing of the Katter’s Australian Party. Their policies are pretty representative of those rural interests: supporting live export of livestock, allowing hunting and 4WDs into national parks, axing the “backpacker tax” to keep attracting travelling workers to rural areas (actually even raising the tax-free threshold for those on working visas higher than it had been), as well a straightforward platform of supporting Australian agricultural producers in both the domestic and foreign markets. They’ve also got a surprisingly forward-thinking program of constitutional reform in favour of Indigenous recognition the elimination of any legal basis for racial discrimination (even though I suspect they haven’t got all the details right).
Australian Democrats (David Collyer & Wanda Mitchell-Cook)
The Democrats have fallen so far that they’ve lost party status with the AEC and are on the Victorian ballot as a weird blank space with two candidate names that no one’s going to recognise. They blame “stupid new electoral laws” like needing to have at least 500 party members, which they’re calling a “suppression of democracy.” The Democrats used to be the sensible centre, a moderate third option between Labor and Liberal. Now they look like an unviable version of the Nick Xenaphon Team.
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
Might as well be called the Ricky Muir Party at this point. Under normal circumstances this should be a single-issue party but ever since they managed to somehow elect a fairly surprised bloke to the Senate, this party has had to extend its policy base from lemon laws and 4WD access to figuring out what they think about national security (they’re for it). Muir’s critics and fans both say the same thing about him: that he’s just a regular Australian who’s been elected to parliament and doesn’t have the experience of a career politician. It’s hard to judge him even by his voting record because he’s the first to admit he made mistakes and bad deals while he was finding his feet. On policies, the AMEP is similar to a rural-interests party on issues like hunting and fishing but they also want stronger support for the manufacturing sector, particularly the automotive one. They would prefer greater individual rights and a smaller government. Like most minor parties, they don’t place much trust in Labor or the Liberals and Muir has consistently voted for greater government oversight.
I was getting ready to be confused between this party and the Australian Progressive Party but thankfully they merged at the end of last year. The Australian Progressives were founded by some of the same people who were responsible for the March in March movement in 2015 and have a full set of policies which sit solidly in the progressive Left in similar areas to the Greens. For all their talk about being a radical, new progressive movement, most of their policy base seems very similar to that of the Greens and I wonder why they don’t simply join forces.
Australian Sex Party
The Sex Party are a left wing party with a libertarian bent. Their main focus is a series of progressive reforms of the sex industry including the full decriminalisation of sex work. Their other policies include the legalisation of euthanasia, the decriminalisation of all illicit drugs for personal use, and removing the special treatment of religious organisations such as tax exemption and government provisions for special religious instruction in schools.
Citizens Electoral Council
These guys are more or less actual fascists and that’s not even the craziest part. Their policies reflect a basic fascistic platform of reclaiming national control over utilities, banks, natural resources and other former state assets to further nationalist goals. This is paired with a futurist vision of things like space colonisation and maglev trains, but these are nowhere near to being their most outlandish beliefs:- they believe that overpopulation and climate change are myths, that there is a worldwide Jewish banking conspiracy, that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by the US government and that the British royal family runs an international drug ring. When I used to work at a university, the CEC would constantly email barmy racist tirades about “the Jews” to scientists seemingly at random.
Democratic Labour Party (DLP)
The DLP was a conservative wing of the ALP which split off in the 1950s and faded into obscurity before being resurrected in 2006. They started off quite similar to Labor and retain a social justice approach to many issues and strong support for the Australian manufacturing sector but their ties to the Catholic Church show through in their opposition to equal marriage, euthanasia, abortion rights, women’s rights, and so on.
Family First are a staunchly conservative party with a strong Christian element and the goals of preserving what they see as traditional family values in Australian society. Their values have seen them oppose marriage equality, the Safe Schools program, access to reproductive rights and legislation to address climate change. Surprisingly okay on disability policy.
Jacqui Lambie Network
There’s quite a few parties centred around well-known personalities this election and Jacqui Lambie is certainly a recognisable name. Lambie’s main slogan has been to put the interests of her state first and JLN’s is to do the same for any electorate that votes them in. There’s a particular focus on improving conditions for working class people but also to be a non-partisan voice and to increase government oversight.
Katter’s Australian Party
Katter’s focused on rural interests, particularly protecting the agricultural industry via some protectionist reforms (that is to say, tariffs and quotas that give domestic producers an advantage in our market, as opposed to free trade) and the construction of infrastructure to help regional development. He’s also against the sale of public infrastructure for similar reasons. The KAP have a moderate stance on climate change and asylum seekers, and are actually pretty good when it comes to Indigenous rights. I’m surprised to learn this, as he’s always been very poor on LGBTQI issues and he wears a large hat.
The LDP are generally regarded as a purist libertarian party and accordingly want small government, low taxation, deregulation, greater civil liberties, and economic measures based on the free market. These principles don’t quite fit into the traditional left-wing/right-wing views, although they share a lot of values with the right wing and the LDP are definitely far to the Right. They tend to have an “end the nanny state” approach and so have policies like the winding-back of firearm restrictions, the abolition of Medicare, privatisation of higher education and not recognising Indigenous traditional Law, but also a couple that look a bit like Left-wing policies such as the decriminalisation of cannabis or enabling equal marriage. This kind of libertarianism is usually the domain of people who believe that the protections of society only serve to hold them back. Their voter base is partially comprised of people who spend a lot of time on Reddit but mostly people who tried to vote for the Liberals but misread the form.
Mature Australia Party
MAP are a party aimed at the interests of older Australians, and seem to be moderates with a touch of conservatism. They’ve got a full range of policies though, unlike the more single-issue style Seniors United Party of Australia lower down on this list. MAP would like an easing of immigration restrictions but a stronger focus on assimilation into Australian culture and English language tests. They want nurse-run health clinics for the elderly to reduce strain on the rest of the healthcare system and to presumably make check-ups simpler for patients than a doctor’s visit. MAP want a guaranteed pension at 75% of minimum wage and to bring the pensions of politicians and public officers down to the same level, but to exempt the family home from the pension assets test. They’d like political campaign reform around election promises and advertising, as well as reform of Freedom of Information regulations.
Hopefully John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party isn’t actually on the ballot as just “MFP” but that’s what they’re down as for now. Madigan used to be a senator for the DLP (see above) but fell out with them over “political intrigue” and struck out on his own. If there’s a policy difference between Madigan’s new party and his old one, I can’t see it. Maybe it’s just free of the establishment interests of… a similar-sized minor party?
Nick Xenophon Team
The NXT are going to be quite important in this election, judging from their predicted seat count and how much the major parties are sledging them. Xenophon was originally elected on a No Pokies platform and his party retains this stance, wanting to reduce maximum losses on pokie machines and ban ATMs within pokie venues. His popularity has sky-rocketed largely thanks to his efforts trying to protect manufacturing jobs in his home state as well as other broadly protectionist economic policies, and the NXT is expected to pick up at least 3 or 4 seats in SA alone. They’re roughly a centre-left party, with policies of a harm minimisation approach to drug problems, greater transparency in government (including support for a federal anti-corruption commission), improved health care and an emissions trading scheme.
Palmer United Party
PUP are a somewhat protectionist party with more of an emphasis on business than a party like Bob Katter’s. Their main policies this election are to change company taxation to be charged annually instead of quarterly and for the first $10,000 on home loan payments each year to be tax deductible, with the assumption that this money in private pockets will boost consumer spending and improve the economy. They also want to raise the aged pension and increase funding to the health and education sectors. Palmer also wants to reform Australia’s insolvency laws to include the equivalent of America’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws, which allow companies to reorganise during bankruptcy – not surprising since he has now presided over several large companies that have gone bankrupt. Presumably he would also like for his party’s senators to stop defecting.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party
God help us. Pauline Hanson. It seems she’s forgotten all about the horde of Asian people that was coming to destroy our society and now thinks it’s the Muslims that will ruin the country. The main difference between One Nation and the hateful bigots they’ve inspired to threaten people over halal labelling is that One Nation are dumber. The only thing more depressing than the fact that Hanson is still around and running for the Senate is that she’s almost assuredly going to get voted in.
The Australian wing of the Pirate Party, which is quite popular in Scandinavia. Their focus is civil liberties, particularly digital rights, copyright reform and censorship. Their main focus this election is demanding that the government roll back the data retention scheme.
Rise Up Australia Party
Last election I described this party as a continuation of Pauline Hanson’s ideas, but this time around she’s back anyway so who even knows. Rise Up champion White Australian culture and are vying with Australia First to be the most far-Right party on the ballot. Their policies come largely from hard-line Christian values, so they’re against reproductive rights, against equal marriage, want to ban the burqa and niqab, and don’t believe in climate change. In fact the party leader, Danny Nalliah, is a young-Earth Creationist, which means he believes that the planet is only roughly 6,000 years old as it says in the Bible. Just like your regular bigots at the pub, Rise Up feel the need to repeatedly clarify that they aren’t racist, pointing to Nalliah’s South Asian heritage as an example. Their anti-Islam focus and desire to wind back the clock to a time before political correctness and multiculturalism has made them a very popular party among racists, and is why people keep assuming that they are too.
A progressive left-wing party similar to the Greens but with an emphasis on dramatically increasing research funding and a few futurist ideas such as high-speed trains, an Australian space agency, and legalising driverless cars. They want to build a charter city (a city that would have its own laws, e.g. different immigration laws) between Canberra and Sydney to act as Australia’s Silicon Valley.
Secular Party of Australia
The Secular Party want to remove religious influence from government policy and to correct legislation that religious beliefs have historically influenced. This largely means they have progressive policies in the areas of women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQI rights, sex ed, stem cell research, and voluntary euthanasia. They’re libertarian but with the explicit focus of the separation of church and state.
Socialist Alliance / Socialist Equality Party
Now we come to the Trotskyist Internationalists, who both have a platform of democratic reform to ensure fairer representation for workers. They’re demanding the complete withdrawal of military and intelligence personnel from overseas, including keeping our military presence out of the South China Sea. They share a major goal of reducing economic inequality by nationalising the banks, utilities, health and retail organisations. They want to roll back national security legislation that restricts freedom of assembly and more or less dismantle the police and intelligence services entirely. They’re against detaining asylum seekers as well as the idea of borders in general. Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Equality Party both describe each other as “pseudo-left” and have irreconcilable differences which are completely imperceptible to anyone outside the movement. I’ve grouped them together and I’m sure that they would be furious about that.
The “sustainable” thing in the name of this party is a sustainable population – they want to put policies in place to try to halt the country’s population growth at about 26 million, chiefly by reducing non-humanitarian immigration. Improving access to reproductive health advice and contraception is also a big ticket item, which makes sense if limiting population growth is their aim, and they want to increase the foreign aid budget for those programs as well. They have an interest in environmental sustainability also but the idea seems to be that if they can bring population growth can be brought into line then the central problems in health, housing, environment, transport, etc., will follow.
Animal Justice Party
The AJP believe in banning live export, banning culls of animals like brumbies and kangaroos, encouraging veganism and plant-based agriculture, and the protection of native habitats. They also want to ban any and all testing on animals, including medical testing. This seems extreme to me but smarter people have told me that medical testing on animals could benefit from better oversight and regulation, at the very least.
I hadn’t heard of this party and prejudged them a bit because of the name, but they have a thorough program of level-headed policies aimed at tackling the problem of child abuse in Australia. The main tenets of this seem to be widespread reform of the Family Court (including a Royal Commission), the appointment of an ombudsman, and a lot of education for child services, the police and the courts so that they are able to more reliably identify cases of child abuse.
Australia First Party
With more of a nationalist bent than other anti-Islam, anti-halal parties like One Nation or Australian Liberty Alliance, Australia First come off as the most hard-line of the far-Right parties. Oddly they’re quite pro-union in a protect-our-jobs-from-these-dangerous-foreigners kind of way. They want to repeal the Racial Discrimination Act, abolish multiculturalism somehow, ban dual citizenships, reinstate the language tests we used to enforce the White Australia policy, and “end immigration” in general, though I suspect they have a specific kind of immigrant in mind. Similarly, their policy to “keep legislating and deporting until true Australian identity is assured across Australia” is not so much a dog-whistle as a blaring White Supremacist fog horn. They call Pauline Hanson a cuckservative and a race traitor, so they’re pretty much off the scale and off their heads.
Australian Cyclists Party
This group is focused entirely on improving conditions for cyclists, mainly through increased infrastructure funding and better road safety laws. They also want a national inquiry into whether the mandated wearing of bicycle helmets has been effective at improving rider safety.
Australian Liberty Alliance
While they do have a wider raft of policies as federal party should, this is largely an anti-Islam party. They’re not as rabid as some similar parties on the ballot because they don’t want to ban all Muslim immigrants like Pauline Hanson but they still have the same paranoia and misunderstandings about the supposed dangers of “Islamisation”, halal certification and sharia law. They see multiculturalism as “divisive” and want greater “free speech” protections through repealing the Racial Discrimination Act and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.
Bullet Train for Australia
This party want high-speed rail infrastructure to be built along the country’s east coast. Their minor policies include campaign finance reform, marriage equality, legalised euthanasia, more limitation on pokie machines, and stronger action on climate change. But mostly it’s about fast trains.
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
As well as being a long-time media personality, Hinch is famous for having served multiple jail sentences for publicly naming sex offenders before their trials were completed. Unsurprisingly, his Justice Party’s main platform is a series of reforms to make sure the justice system is harder on sexual and violent offences. The main points of reform are that those who commit violent crimes receive harsher sentencing and have no right to bail, and the creation of a public sex offenders register. I’ve categorised the DHJP as a single-issue party because of the prominence of their justice policies but they do also have a number of surprisingly left-wing social policies, namely that they’re for marriage equality, legalised euthanasia, and a ban on live export.
Drug Law Reform
This party want a much more progressive approach to drugs as can be found overseas in places like Colorado or the Netherlands and want a parliamentary conscience vote to drive these changes. Their reform ideas are: a harm minimisation approach to the treatment of drug addiction, the decriminalisation of cannabis and ecstasy, and a regulatory approach to the production and sale of drugs that are currently illegal here. Actually less extreme on drug legalisation than the Sex Party.
Health Australia Party
The main platform for these guys is legislating against “big pharma” and conventional medicine in general, instead embracing alternative medicine, homeopathy and anti-vaccination. They want to take fluoride out of the water supply and some of them have issues with “chemtrails”. They’re quite progressive on their social policies, in the same way that someone who has spent a bit too much time at Maitreya festival would like to see the detention centres closed but also believes that you can cure cancer with reiki. Presumably big fans of Michael Leunig and polio making a comeback.
Marijuana (HEMP) Party
I doubt you’d be surprised that these guys want cannabis to be legalised for both medical and recreational use but it’s worth noting that they also want any people who’ve been convicted for cannabis-related offences to have their convictions overturned and removed from the record. More and more parties are advocating for the legalisation of cannabis as both a social policy and a way to raise revenue this election but as far as I can tell this is the only group that have mentioned granting clemency for those who’ve been convicted for past use or possession.
Some confusing naming here for the Australian Equality Party, who were previously recognised by the AEC as Australian Equality Party (Marriage) but now they’re listed as Marriage Equality so I’m putting them down as that as it’s how they’re likely to appear on the ballot. A straightforward enough policy goal from this party: removing discrimination against LGBTQI Australians and empowering and protecting them.
Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
This group want the Family Court reformed to grant more rights to parents who have lost custody of their children, and to reduce the obligations on them paying child support. They would like to roll back no-fault divorce and generally return divorce law to how it was several decades ago. And they really, really don’t want to pay child support.
Online Direct Democracy – (Empowering the People!) / VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy!
Besides an affection for exclamation marks, these two parties also share a belief in direct democracy, whereby voters directly decide for or against legislation, instead of the current system of representative democracy which gives this responsibility to the elected MP or senator. These are parties for people who are so convinced that politicians will never represent their interests that they’re willing to put the internet in charge instead.
Renewable Energy Party
As well as moving Australia to 100% renewable energy by 2030, this party wants to put a price on greenhouse emissions and restore funding to the CSIRO for climate research.
Seniors United Party of Australia
We’ll probably see a lot more of issues affecting the elderly in politics as the baby boomer generation drifts into retirement age. This party wants to protect the rights of senior citizens and ensure they’re not exploited or disadvantaged, as well as address specific financial issues relating to care in retirement homes.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
Once known as the Shooters Party and then later as the Shooters and Fishers Party, this group have added “Farmers” to their title to reflect their support for regional issues and to make sure no one confuses them with the Greens. The Shooters identify as right-wing and champion individual rights above all, particularly in regards to lessening restrictions around firearms, hunting and fishing.
The main focus of the Veterans Party is to legislate for greater support of veterans when it comes to employment, healthcare (including mental health and suicide), and homelessness, and it’s worth noting that their definition of veterans includes not just former military personnel but also emergency services and healthcare workers.
Voluntary Euthanasia Party
This one really does just what it says on the tin. The VEP want the legalisation of assisted dying for those with terminal or incurable illnesses.
Feel free to comment if you think I’ve missed anything. Happy voting!