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Since it does not involve crocodiles or stranded backpackers, the news that Julian Assange is set for humiliation in Australia's election is unlikely to get much traction, but it should.
There was never more than a faint chance that he would be elected to Australia's Senate from the state of Victoria in the first place, according to Australia's version of Nate Silver, Anthony Green. It was always smelling of stunt politics because Australia has rules which near certainly bar Senators who cannot actually sit in the Senate, who attempt to do their job from foreign embassies in foreign cities.
But the past few days there's been a trio of hits showing the party for what it always was: an extension of Julian's massive ego.
First came Assange's love fest with Ron and Rand Paul, thanks to a question from an Australian student activist at an election forum about their version of libertarianism. Assange said:
“So non-violence – don’t go and invade a foreign country. Non-violence – don’t force people at the barrel of a gun to serve in the US Army. Non-violence – don’t extort taxes from people to the Federal Government with a policeman. Similarly, there are other aspects of non-violence in relation to abortion that they hold.”The guns statement hasn't got much traction, even though Australia is famously anti-gun, but the abortion one certainly has (the Paul's are anti-abortion and push for such measures as 'personhood' which would outlaw abortion and some forms of birth control). I guess Assange has to somehow twist to support the Paul's on that murky area of their politics, much as Paul supporters generally do. He avoided commenting on the Paul's racism.
Abortion is an issue in the election because Abbott, the opposition leader and likely next PM, is a Catholic like Mel Gibson is a Catholic. Former PM Julia Gillard made some noise about fears for what Abbott would do on abortion if elected. For women voters this isn't some minor issue.
Some of his other comments would no doubt rankle with most Australians, given that libertarianism holds little sway and Australians not only support free abortion access and gun laws but also their national health service. On taxes, he couldn't be more out of touch with voters concerns in an election being held in an economy going gangbusters where the potential PM's are outbidding each other on what programs voters' taxes should be spent on.
Then we had the Wikileaks Party preferencing the Greens last.
In the Senate you vote above or below the line, meaning that you either tick one box or write numbers in dozens of boxes. Above the line and that vote is allocated according to the party's ticket. This is how minor party candidates and independents get elected to the Senate, based on the preferences of people who voted 1 for someone else.
The Senate elections are actually descending into farce with some metre long ballot papers with candidates' names written in 8pt type and election officials buying up magnifying glasses. The host of minor parties now includes the Coke in the Bubblers’ party. Reforms are needed because these tiny parties actually wield some power when negotiating preference swaps with the big parties. So even though Assange must have known his election was unlikely, just setting up a party
Wikileaks claimed it was all a big typo and Assange put it down to teething pains and 'we're all volunteers'. It means they are preferencing last some of Assange's biggest supporters in Australian politics and putting ahead of the Greens far-right Australian parties including one which is allied to Greece's fascist Golden Dawn.
Now it has come out that the preferencing wasn't a mistake as there's been a spate of resignations, including Assange's #2 on the Victorian Senate ticket, the women who would have actually sat in the Senate if Assange had got up.
In a blistering statement, Ms Cannold said she could not remain as a candidate because to do so would be implicitly making a statement that the WikiLeaks Party was what it claimed to be - "a democratically run party that both believes in transparency and accountability, and operates in this way".Oh, the humanity.
Anyone who has seen a documentary on Wikileaks or read Guardian journalist James Ball or followed the saga of Julian's flight from Swedish sexual assault charges will know that the organisation is now little more than a front for his ego. How anyone knowing that would think his party could be 'transparent' or 'accountable' must have been asleep the past two years.
Among the flood of resignations, Party National Council member Daniel Matthews said this:
The final straw for me was Julian’s explanation of the fiasco on Triple J [national public service youth radio station] hack on Tuesday night — after a full day of frantic communication within the party, including to his inbox.I can picture the scene in a cupboard in the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange ranting and raving as he contemplates the utter humiliation due to him in a fortnight's time.
He said the following, in flagrant contradiction of everything that had been happening within the party, going to him and his inbox.
“There was a decision that preferences would be done by the states, by the candidates in the states.”
This is wrong. Preferences decisions were made by the National Council and were binding on the party. It was only in Julian’s proposal that candidates were given free rein over preferencing — and that proposal also gave Julian veto power and reduced the National Council to a sham, and was rejected.
If you'd like to continue having a laff at Assange's expense you can watch him 'dancing' after the jump.
Update: When in a hole ... Assange has now bitchslapped resigned Senate candidate Leslie Cannold and called her second rate.