"Keep the Bastards Honest!"

16th Aug, 2021
This was the rallying cry of the Australian Democrats when they first formed as a minor political party in 1977. Back then, Australia had only a handful of small parties. The federal parliament was dominated by the ‘big two’ - the Liberal-Country Party (now the Liberal-National Coalition) and the Australian Labor Party.
 
Although we are still dominated by the big two today, Australia has 46 federally registered political parties.  These small parties represent a diverse range of public interests, including gambling reform, housing affordability, climate change and medical freedom, all of them aiming to keep the ‘bastards’ honest.
 
Up until now, in order to be registered, political parties needed at least 500 members who were on the electoral roll. But last week, the federal government introduced to parliament an amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act [1] &[2] that would raise the minimum membership requirement for the registration of non-parliamentary parties to 1,500.
 
This bill is clearly a tactic to drive smaller parties from participation in the national political conversation. The Australian public understands the role these small parties play – they give voice to unrepresented opinion and causes.
 
 
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