Smear 22: “He supported right-wing political parties in Australia.”

No he didn’t. In 2013 Australia’s WikiLeaks Party ended up giving preferential votes to right-wing parties in New South Wales as a result of over-delegation on Assange’s part while he was busy trying to help Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, along with what the WikiLeaks party described as “administrative errors”.

In 2012, WikiLeaks announced on Twitter that Assange was running for the Australian senate, and in 2013 the WikiLeaks Party was formally registered with the Australian Electoral Commission and fielded candidates in the states of Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. The other candidates in the party included a human rights lawyer, an ethicist, a former Greens candidate, a former diplomat, a law professor and a former president of the Ethnic Communities council in WA. It was a very left-wing offering with unusual political ads.

In Australia we have preferential voting, which is also known in the US as ranked-choice voting. You are given two ballots, a small one for the house of representatives and an arm’s-length one for the senate, which you number the candidates in order of your preference, number one being your first preference. Voting for the senate is an epic task so you are given the ability to number every single candidate in order of preference (which is called “voting below the line”), or back in 2013 you could simply nominate the party who you want to win “above the line” and if they were knocked out in the first round, their preferences were applied to your vote.

These preferences make up what’s called a “How To Vote” card. Have a look at an example here. It’s a pamphlet given to voters on the day that suggests how to number your preferences to support your party, but it’s also submitted to the electoral commission so that they can assign your chosen flow of preferences in the senate vote.

Every election there is a shit-storm over the How To Vote cards as parties bargain with each other and play each other off to try and get the flow of preferences to go their way. To make things even more complex, you have to create these cards for every state and seat you are putting up candidates for. The WikiLeaks Party preferences statement in one of the states, New South Wales, somehow wound up having two right wing parties preferenced before the three major parties. The WikiLeaks Party said it was an administrative error and issued this statement in August 2013:

Preferences Statement: The WikiLeaks Party isn’t aligned with any other political group. We’d rather not allocate preferences at all but allocating preferences is compulsory if your name is to go above the line.

In allocating preferences between 53 other parties or groups in NSW some administrative errors occurred, as has been the case with some other parties. The overall decision as to preferences was a democratically made decision of the full National Council of the party. According to the National Council decision The Shooters & Fishers and the Australia First Party should have been below Greens, Labor, Liberal. As we said, we aren’t aligned with anyone and the only policies we promote are our own. We will support and oppose the policies of other parties or groups according to our stated principles.

So, in short, the entirety of the WikiLeaks Party gathered and voted to put those right wing parties down the ballot below Greens, Labor and Liberal parties but someone fucked up the form. The WikiLeaks Party ended up getting 0.66 percent of the vote and in NSW those preferences went to those right wing parties who also failed to get the numbers required to win a seat. Was there mismanagement? Yes. Was it deliberate? At least with regard to Assange, there’s no reason to believe that it was.

This was all happening at the same time Chelsea Manning’s case was wrapping up and Assange was busy helping Edward Snowden.

“I made a decision two months ago to spend a lot of my time on dealing with the Edward Snowden asylum situation, and trying to save the life of a young man,” Assange told Australian TV at the time. “The result is over-delegation. I admit and I accept full responsibility for over-delegating functions to the Australian party while I try to take care of that situation.”

It’s obvious that some people in the WikiLeaks Party did some things they weren’t supposed to do, and Assange could have prevented them from happening if the election had been his focus during that time instead of the other things he had on his plate. But there’s no basis on which to reject his claim that this was an innocent oversight due to over-delegating and claim instead that it was actually a covert conspiracy on his part to funnel votes to right-wingers in New South Wales.

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This is an excerpt from the mega-article “Debunking All The Assange Smears”.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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