A fledgling political party with the goal of representing Indigenous Australians has fired a shot across the bows of the major parties for making it harder for it to get registered political party status under amendments to electoral laws.
The Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia had got its membership up to 550 in order to get formal registered status and the Australian Electoral Commission has reviewed its membership list and other documents.
An objection period for the registration of the party had run out on September 6 but the commission contacted the party to let it know that the rules for a non-parliamentary party registration now require 1500 members.
Uncle Owen Whyman, the convenor of the proposed political party, has written to both major parties to ask whether the Liberal and Labor parties were so fearful of a small player such as the Indigenous Party of Australia that they felt they needed to push through changes to increase the membership threshold.
“People should feel they can vote for a minor party if that Party represents their views. At a time when many are ill at ease with the major parties, it will strengthen the suspicion that the major parties care only for their own skins and not for democracy or the people of Australia.” Whyman said.
“In our case it can be difficult to get Indigenous people to get on the electoral roll and join our Party for fear this will somehow come against them, become another stepping stone to having their children taken away or ending up with a fine they cannot pay. It’s been a huge community effort to get our application this far.”
Whyman said members of the party’s board and party candidates could only be Indigenous, but that membership is open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Policy areas of concern for the Indigenous Party of Australia include, but are not limited to, plans related to the Murray-Darling, the high rate of incarceration of Indigenous people, and the state of education of Indigenous children.