Formal proposal to rename the Pirate Party by 2018

Agree with most of it.

I agree with others, its good descriptive name, but its a bit intense. I dont like the ‘bike shed’, but we should try and at least come up with a short list of possible alternative names.

I think we should look at the name change within the context of developing a completely new brand, and maybe even try and identify the demographic we want to target, are there stats from the facebook page that help identify our current demogrpahic ?

We should aim for a brand that center-left non-conservative people would definitely want in their top 6 on the new senate paper.

Xenophon was 6th in 2013 with 1.93%, but its difficult to know what effect these changes will have, a lot of micro parties will disappear (EDIT: which will mean the rest will become concentrated at that % will go up), and also a lot of votes will exhaust (EDIT: which will push that % down), people will vote 1-6 and no more.

There are other minor/micro parties i consider in the Libertarian Left quadrant (i could be wrong) who ran in the 2013 senate vote; Total is 4.43%

  • Sex 1.37%
  • Hemp 0.71%
  • Animal Justice 0.70% (disafected greens?)
  • Wikileaks 0.66%
  • Pirate Party 0.30%
  • Democrats 0.25% (but close to center)
  • Voluntary euthenasia party 0.16%
  • Secular Party 0.09%
  • Drug Law Reform 0.08%

Greens would be the main competition for Libertarian Left IMO, and they got 8.65%

ALP+LNP have policy of a agreeing on anything security related, and i dont see that changing in the long term, so the Left Libertarian (And right Libertarian that we already have) is definitely going to be a valid minor party core value in the long term IMO. Particularly right now due to global security and at the state level with lockout laws.

EDIT: Age is a very telling demographic politically, that might influence our branding. If we are all old intellectuals a complex name isnt a problem, if we are strong in young politically naive people they wont understand

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“We’ve spent 8 years taking back the word ‘pirate’ and using it to our advantage”, and now you want to spend another 8 years explaining “Libertarian Left”?

(Incidentally, I used to like the term “libertarian” as a descriptor, but it’s been utterly destroyed by teabaggers and an assortment of other cranks over the last half century.)

Also, selectively quoting the arguments in the original post:

1: The Pirate movement is dead as a party political organ.
4: We have become a movement in our own right. We are the only Party in the lower-left quadrant of the political axes in Australia.

Don’t those statements kinda conflict?

TL;DR: I’ve read the arguments in favour, and I get what you’re saying about where we are in the political spectrum, but I’m having extreme difficulty seeing a name change as anything other than a large expenditure of time and effort, coupled with the loss of a certain spirit. Sorry, but I think I’ll be voting “no”…

Times changed, and Pirate isn’t useful anymore. Any more effort would be an irrational escalation of commitment.

It’s significantly easier to explain what left-libertarianism is than Pirate, particularly since you won’t get laughed at by the name itself and actually have the opportunity to engage. This, regardless of what name we choose, is the most important factor.

When we were strongly focused on core policy points, making a splash and getting attention on those entirely neglected policy points, Pirate was useful. It got us places we couldn’t get before. The problem is we were so successful that other organisations are happy to defend ‘pirates’ openly, and are invited to debates and advocacy situations in our place—CHOICE, ACCAN, and the Australian Digital Alliance, are just some orgs that used to shy away from these issues and now take them at the forefront, such as action against the TPP.

Let me remind you that prior to activity by the Pirate Party on ACTA and TPP in Australia, not even the Greens gave a shit. In fact, prior to Pirate contact with the Greens in the early days, the Greens were tentatively in favour of ACTA.

But, in the last three years? Very little. Cliche attempted trap interviews on the radio that always fail, nothing else. The brand no longer possesses the political value necessary for the party to grow without an extremely muddled discussion about party history, platform growth, and “yes the name is a bit of an anachronism now I suppose.”

When we put out a press release about refugees, some people asked “why?” — this is a major issue with branding and not something that can be resolved with Pirate, which people still either think is a one-issue party, a heavily focussed party, or worse still, some people still confuse us for the defunct and misnomered WikiLeaks Party. I get blasted every few weeks by an apparatchik idiot who thinks we preferenced fascists, lol.

No, though at least you admit the selectiveness.

Movement is the concept at large: what it means to be a Pirate, who you work with, the ethos, etc. It has constantly been muddied by people who refused to actually build anything other than a ‘vibe’ of what the Pirates are, or always defaulting to something written on Falkvinge’s blog once. That’s not a movement. That’s a cult.

The international movement is largely gone, many parties either no longer exist or never really grew sufficiently to work with anyone in the first place. We’ve always largely worked alone, and worked in spite of the name, taking advantage of it in the few places where it was worthwhile: getting media attention, drawing voters to talk to you in an extremely apathetic environment, and having the comfort to grow in an experimental environment where powermongers have no interest in being. The name Pirate specifically pushed those people away who were the types who would walk away just because of a name.

That’s not useful anymore however. I do not see the point expending effort in a Party that in the Australian system stands approximately 0% chance of getting more than one seat anywhere in the country. The most likely outcome would be a few choice spots on some random councils, and maybe an accidental elections to a Senate-equivalent in one of the states due to ballot exhaustion. 0.5% is not a convincing argument to keep a name.

Talk to anyone who has lobbied on behalf of this Party and you’ll quickly see a pattern of disenfranchisement due to the difficulty of dealing with other people when they can’t see how you’d be useful to them at all, because the name drives people away. I want the Party to actually effect change in a post-GVT country where we will no longer have one of the most useful political tools that the Party was actually designed to take advantage of. We already largely got other parties to adopt our copyright policies (LDP and Greens to a large effect), so our original goals have been met.

The “loss of a certain spirit” is simply FUD. The Pirate organisation will continue to exist as the Pirate Bureau without the burdens of being a ‘serious political party’. If anything, the spirit will be enlivened by not being limited to walking the line of “radical digital activist org” and “serious political party”. We were never a protest party and never will be, so we need a name that reflects that.

Now, if you have constructive feedback on a name that will actually work, or a constructive argument on why Pirate is that name, I’m all ears.

Social Democrats is a similar description for our policies, there is a “Social Democratic Party” in lots of countries, but there has already been a Social Democratic Party, it only stood in one election.

Anything with “Democratic” in its name is hard to paint as extreme.

Liberal Democratic Party.


I definitely agree with the description vs name dilema. I really don’t like the term “Libertarian” as I feel it carries bad connotations, especially considering what the LDP policies are like…

Maybe something with “Progressive” in the title might work, I don’t know what permutations of that are still available, though.

Say I proposed instead “Left-Libertarian Party”, would that change things? Simply put, left-libertarianism is a separate concept from right-libertarianism, which has over time captured the label and tried to make it generic. One of the benefits of recent turmoil regarding confusion between Liberal and LDP is that we can take advantage of the inertia and really change the perceptions of ‘liberal-’ based words going forward. A risky strategy to be sure, but one I think that’s worth attempting.

Never forget that politics has no memory. You can rename a party as many times as you want, and the electorate will be very forgiving, because there’s never a lack of desire for something better. If this doesn’t work, then we can try something else. Though, again, if someone can suggest something better, I am all ears.

I feel that ‘progressive’ simply invokes feelings of populism and ‘centrism’, which is not something I think we want to convey, though that’s worth discussing.

Seems one of the major gripes so far has been a lack of hyphen. Let the bikeshedding begin!

Pick your preferred variant of the name.

  • Left‐Libertarian
  • Left Libertarian
  • Libertarian Left

0 voters

Does anyone have any ideas of what demographic we should be targeting ?

My thoughts through a process of elimination are that the quadrant is centred around middle aged (25-50) educated males;

  • Conservatives are mostly 50+, influenced by religion, sceptical about science (arch enemy)
  • The Left are generally seen as more educated (or having pockets of more educated people)
  • Greens are strong with under 25, but i dont think they generalise about authoritarian vs libertarian, its more taken on a case by case basis.

The brand we develop should consider this (or a more accurate version) as the context which a new name will be judged.

If we are targeting more politically literate groups a descriptive name might not be a problem, but if we can come up with a name that has an initial appeal to the center it might help open the door.

Gender is not relevant, and the person who wrote this proposal (me) would fit squarely within the 18–25 age group, so your thinking might be a bit off. Specifically, I wanted a name that wouldn’t have consequences for diversity like Pirate simply does. It evokes “IT people fuuuu” which makes women think the culture here will be like that of an IT company (which, let me just say, is usually really fucking bad). It has never been that in practice, but convincing people is a different issue.

Our target audience is non-conservative non-authoritarian folks. That’s it. I don’t think we need to target in any more detail that that because politics isn’t a game for specific groups, and we’re not trying to sell a product for profit. You market specific policies in specific seats during election time to appeal to that constituency best, but that’s not the same as building a “25 to 50 men’s only club” party. That would suck so very much.

I think the argument is backward. The name appeals to both groups: the literate know it means the not-fucking-lunatic variant of libertarianism, and the illiterate have no idea what liberal means, let alone libertarian, but aren’t taken aback by it like Pirate and are more likely to engage as you seem serious compared to the other micros.

Also, the number of people I’ve spoken to in my time as a Pirate representative who would identify as “capitalist” and realise they aren’t really was intense. They’d say “so, I think I’m a right wing capitalist,” expecting me to explode at them, yet just got a “haha, okay, why?”. Talk about their belief that people should get paid based upon the work they put in, etc. I ask simple questions like “do you think people should be able to sit on capital and do no work, and merely make profit off the ‘risk’”? This usually resulted in “that’s capitalism?!” People have no idea.

To not be descriptive in our naming simply makes it harder to explain who we are, which if considered deeply can be interpreted as an attempt at deception, which I think is contrary to everything we’ve built to this point.

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First up, I only partially match your designated demographic. I am attracted to the fact this represents a technology party and don’t really, fundamentally, care what the party is called (I accept that neither criterion is necessarily usual.)

I regard those who go only by a party name as shallow thinkers, and if we are going to use this sort of reasoning we might as well plump for the “RALLY, RALLY FUN TIMES, VOTE HERE PARTY.”

(It could be I am just too cynical for anyone to seriously ask my opinion?)

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I wasnt implying that we should be a specific demographic, diversity is a core principle of any non-conservative group.

Identifying our current demographic, or a demogrpahic we think is sympathetic to our values is useful for “marketing”, which is what election campaigns are all about.

A practical example is that say we paiid for some facebook advertising (which i dont know if we have ever done or not), it could help promote the current or a new brand to people who dont know us. We could target the advertising for a specific demographic that is more likely to respond.

Even if we dont advertise its useful to know where we stand from a diversity pov.

Just some interesting perspective from beyond our typical demographics, from my father and his partner, respectively typically Liberal and swing/personality voters - from their own admission neither are particularly politically literate in the technical sense, nor were they familiar with the term “Libertarian”, but for context are both active in local politics and come from a marketing background. Both voted for the Liberals in lower house for the 2013 election, but PPAU in the Senate.

They both remarked that they were immediately dissuaded by the “left” part of the proposed name, stating that to them it implied “extremism” / “radical”, and despite largely agreeing with PPAU’s policy base, state they wouldn’t wish to be identified as “lefties”.

Some of their alternative suggestions were “Libertarian Party”, “Progressive Libertarians”, “Libertarian Progressives” or “Modern Libertarians”.

Not making any particular judgement or evaluation of their comments & suggestions, just thought it an interesting perspective worth noting down.

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Must admit my main gripe with the name change is putting ‘left’ in the name


I don’t think “Libertarian” works without the “Left” bit or “Left” works without “Libertarian”.

Big L Libertarians, as in the Ayn Rand loving, tax hating, gun toting, radical capitalists are a long way from us on a wide range of issues. Essentially, we believe the State should provide healthcare, education and a social safety-net and they do not.

That said, libertarianism as a broad definition fits with our view of civil liberties and the importance of individual choice. We don’t support censorship, drug prohibition or media ownership laws. We don’t believe the State should have unfettered access to our information to protect us from terrorism or criminals because the State must have its power over individuals limited as much as possible whilst providing benefits for society. As often stated, ‘it is the government who should fear the people, not the people who should fear the government.’

From Wikipedia:

Libertarianism (Latin: liber, “free”) is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as its principal objective. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association, and the primacy of individual judgment.

Libertarians generally share a skepticism of authority; however, they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling to restrict or even to wholly dissolve coercive social institutions. Rather than embodying a singular, rigid systematic theory or ideology, libertarianism has been applied as an umbrella term to a wide range of sometimes discordant political ideas through modern history.

We definitely fit under the libertarian ‘umbrella’, but firmly to the left of said umbrella.

The term ‘Left’ has been damaged by the authoritarian strain of left wing politics, most notably through the various Communist Parties around the world and the (now waning) influence of Marxism. Even the Greens are more authoritarian than us (relatively), with support for media ownership laws and limiting free speech more than we believe healthy. That said, our outlook is firmly to the left.

From Wikipedia:

Left-wing politics support social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. They typically involve concern for those in society whom they perceive as disadvantaged relative to others and a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.

Our approach to social policies quite clearly fit in with this outlook. We don’t support social hierarchy such as Monarchy or systematic inequality caused by discrimination and many of our policies are aimed at addressing inequalities.

As Brendan suggested in the OP:

Q: I think you’ll lose the ‘right’ for calling it left and the ‘left’ for calling it libertarian. What do you think?

I think that is a reasonable assertion based on the traditionally narrow minded views of the mainstream media that paints Australian politics on a one-dimensional axis.

However, the argument falls apart very quickly as it becomes evident that the Party stands on a platform that significantly differs not only from the two major parties, but even the Greens and the LDP. We are an independent and unique party that is largely the only one that fits in the left-libertarian part of the political axis. I again invite you to consider the a left-libertarianism page on Wikipedia and see how well the Pirate Party fits within this broad quadrant of politics and how no other Australian party does.

Read the wikipedia entry. Whilst I don’t know the philosophical backgrounds of every person in PPAU, where I do know where people come from, we all fit within the definition of left libertarian as stated. As soon as you mess with the name, you start to exclude parts of our current active membership base.

All of this said, I still like the name Pirate Party and would only want to change if the proposed name is better. Libertarian Left Party is IMO the first name that has been suggested that accurately encapsulates what the Party stands for and is decent. I’m open to other ideas, but names like ‘Social Democrats’ or ‘Libertarian Party’ are much worse than Pirate Party and in those cases I would prefer our name remained the same.


Now this is an interesting question. On balance, I agree that a name change could be good, but I would take a different direction in terms of the name itself. I’ll come back to that, but the first question is why change at all?

Here are some of the advantages of the existing “Pirate” name:

  1. It has currency in the digital rights community, being a well known global brand. That relative fame gives us a vote floor of around 0.5% (which dips only when we’re running against wikileaks). It’s kept us consistently among the top tier of small parties.
  2. The name stands out from the crowd and sparks interest among curious voters.
  3. The name sums up our platform and what makes it unique.
  4. It is a name and brand that lured a lot of us to join, so we’re naturally attached to it.

But then there are the problems:

  1. It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t nerds. This risks us not being taken seriously enough and may mean our vote ceiling is not far above our vote floor. And of course “among the top tier of small parties” in no way means electable.
  2. The name could be an affront to people we ought to have on-side (creators and artists).
  3. The global pirate movement is declining and the name could be losing its currency.
  4. Digital rights issues are increasingly being decided by technological change and consumer choice, and not by political parties.

So fair enough—there is a reasonable argument for changing the name. My first thought was “Progressive Libertarian Party”; Brendan has suggested “Left Libertarian” and we have also heard “Social Democrat”, “Liberty Party”, “Digitarian Party”—and various others including some at the Sydney meetup.

Before we pick the name though, we need to step back and look at the big picture. The whole game is about to change for minor parties. Senate reforms are passing which will attach optional preferential voting to a 14% quota—this will categorically lock out parties with little money. We are seeing parliament turn into a gated community for large publicly funded party machines and ‘outsider’ billionaires.

In this environment, the best (perhaps only) option for small parties is to run for state parliaments instead.

There are good arguments for this. The quotas for state senates are low enough to allow small parties through, if they can build support in the community. The resources needed to campaign are lower in state elections. Parties that get into parliament gain resources, staff, publicity, and generally stick around. Registering for state elections might be more difficult, but the flip-side is more clear air and less crowded ballot papers for the parties that manage it. (The exception here is NSW, where the requirement for groups to run 15 candidates has created tablecloths).

If our avenue for succeeding is at the state level, then it makes sense to look at which parties have already succeeded there. And this is where the name issue really matters. Here are all the minor parties which currently have seats in a state upper house:

Shooters party
Christian Democratic Party
Animal Justice Party
Local Jobs Party
Democratic Labour Party
Shooters Party
Sex Party
South Australia
Family First
Dignity for Disability
West Australia
Shooters and Fishers

There is a clear common factor here: every successful minor party has a name which is a “resonant phrase”. All of the names appeal to an easily-understood cause and avoid reference to generic ideology. (yes there is the Democratic Labour Party, but that begun as an offshoot from a major party rather than something which had to grow up from the ground).

If we take an ‘ideology’ name—even one as technically correct as ‘left-libertarian’—we will be going against the evidence about what actually works for minor parties. Broad ideological terms are poorly understood by the general public and would leave us struggling to punch through with a clear message. We’d risk melting into the ballot paper as a generic party and being overlooked.

So if we change, I think we should pick a ‘cause’ based name. There are various causes we could pick out from our policies. One is digital rights—which we could use literally (Digital Rights Party), or slightly figuratively (Internet Party). The problem with that is that the digital rights voter base is small, and most of those involved probably know us already. Also, as noted, the future of digital rights is increasingly being fixed outside of the political arena.

IP-reform type names share many of the same problems.

I see a possibility in being called something like the Basic Income Party. Basic income is a much bigger cause now than when we first adopted it. The name and concept generate real energy and could infuse the party with a larger volunteer base. It could also draw members and help us get registered for state elections. The basic income movement has a long way to rise yet and if we rose along with it we may get the critical mass to break through in one state or another.

On the other hand, there’s some controversy around basic income, and many other possible causes we could pick instead, so if you favour one then let’s hear it.

There’s also a middle path we can follow. Look at what the Christian Democratic Party did in marrying a cause (“Christian”) with an ideology-type name (“Democratic”). A name like Basic Income Digital Society Party or Basic Income and Liberty Party (or whatever) would allow us to keep the punch-through but also have something which reflects our broader platform. We will have to think of something that doesn’t sound awkward and make sure we put the memorable part (cause) first so people can find it on the ballot paper.

The risk in all this is that some other group will take on a version of our cause and/or name and split our vote (it would be particularly awkward if the other group got the name ahead of us). But to be fair, that’s a risk we’ll face to some degree with any name, including our current one—wikileaks clearly split our vote last time.

Finally here’s the ritual reminder that all of this needs to be considered at length by our members. The reception to our social media posts makes it pretty clear that the focus of our supporters is digital liberty, and they may not appreciate a paradigm shift out of the blue. We will need to retain our digital rights advocacy no matter what guise we take, and nobody should feel ambushed by any change or get a sense that the party is moving out from under them—or we could schism.

Thanks to Brendan for opening up this useful discussion.


Let’s do a little dialogue.

Random Person: “Oh, you’re a political party, what’s the story?”

PPAU Member: “We’re based around the core tenets of freedom of information and culture, civil and digital liberties, governmental transparency and participatory democracy”.

Random Person: “Oh, cool. Why Pirate?”

PPAU Member: “Because a group with copyright reform as a core policy were always going to be called Pirates by, for example, the movie industry, so we claimed the name for ourselves”.

Random Person: “Ah, I get it”.

(Yes, I have actually had this conversation several times)

Now, change the name and play the second half of the conversation again:

Random Person: “Oh, cool. Why Left Libertarian?”

LLP Member: "Because putting politics in terms of only left and right creates an overly simplistic binary which is incapable of expressing the full political spectrum. If, instead, we have two axes, and use left vs. right for economic issues and libertarian vs. authoritarian for government control over personal behaviour, we can much more accurately express someone’s position. In our case, that means we support social equality (the “left” part) combined with individual freedom (the “libertarian” part).

I’ll leave the random person’s answer up to someone who’s had this conversation recently (I’ll assume it’s also “Ah, I get it”), but suffice it to say I’m not buying the “significantly easier to explain what left-libertarianism is than Pirate” argument. IMO it’s about the same effort/difficulty either way.

FUD is a disinformation strategy used to influence people based on fear. That’s not what I’m aiming for here. The “loss of a certain spirit” has nothing to do with how I think we’ll be perceived, and everything to do with how I, as a member, will feel if the name is changed. The Pirate Bureau of the Libertarian Left Party has all the spirit of a wet bar cloth. Call me a cultist or irrational if you like, but there it is.

When people join a movement, a political party, a sports team, whatever, part of the reason they do so is because something about that group resonates with them, and to a greater or lesser degree tends to mesh with part of their identity. An important part of that thing is the name of the group (people, myself included, along with being irrational, also tend to be rather tribal).

If I was shooting for FUD, I’d have asked “how many of our current membership will leave if the name is changed?” and “how many people who’ve backed our crowdfunding campaigns won’t know who we are anymore?”

You seem to be assuming that a name change is inevitable, and that I am somehow obligated to argue either for Pirate, or for some other name. I’m quite happy with “Pirate” myself, and, as far as I’m concerned, no sufficient argument has been presented to initiate a name change in the first place, so I’m not going to fall into this trap.

Despite the long list of arguments in the original post in favour of a name change, the only one that might hold water is “Pirate scares people off”. But who are these people? Potential voters? Potential members? Other groups we might partner with?

To be fair, I can actually see this being a problem in some circumstances, but it’s in no way clear to me how much of a problem it is in practice.

AFAICT, a name change is, effectively, a gamble.

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I am quite certain we’ve all had that conversation several times, and it is great when it goes that way. The other side of the coin is that sometimes it will simply go: ‘Pirate? What a stupid name!’ and they’ll walk away, or they’ll obsess over the fundamental non-electability of name (which happens frequently, at least to me).

But I will agree that Pirate is easy to explain if given a chance.

I think this is unfair. Explaining the name does not require such a long response: ‘The “left” part reflects our support for equality and government services. The “libertarian” part reflects our dedication to personal freedoms.’

I personally find that explanation more appealing than explaining ‘Pirate’.[quote=“tserong, post:30, topic:682”]
The Pirate Bureau of the Libertarian Left Party has all the spirit of a wet bar cloth. Call me a cultist or irrational if you like, but there it is.

I had assumed the NGO would simply be ‘The Pirate Bureau’ (that is, the English translation of Piratbyrån).[quote=“tserong, post:30, topic:682”]
You seem to be assuming that a name change is inevitable, and that I am somehow obligated to argue either for Pirate, or for some other name. I’m quite happy with “Pirate” myself, and, as far as I’m concerned, no sufficient argument has been presented to initiate a name change in the first place, so I’m not going to fall into this trap.

It would be helpful to have counter-arguments in my view.

That is true of almost any branding (or rebranding) decision.


My experience of talking Pirate politics with a variety of people from outside the party, is that there is almost never any disagreement on the substance of our policies, but they baulk at the name. “You can’t be serious with that name”, “I thought it was a joke party”, “Arrrrrr”, “Do you parley and stuff” and “Do you wear costumes?”.
It’s a barrier to entry for most of the population, and so a barrier to our growth.

I see you also describing this as “a gamble”.
I agree. It is, but like the saying goes, “A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”.
Safety is not what new political parties are for either.

I’m not 100% sold on the proposed new name.
I prefer “Libertarian-Left” to “Left-Libertarian”.
I think we start from a cultural libertarian position, but care about equality and opportunity.
I think our policy base reflects this focus, in this order.

I think there’s a huge portion of the population that has a generally libertarian outlook, but hates what that seems to mean on the right wing, capitalism obsessed, gun toting side of the arena.
The gap to the left of libertarian in the Australian political space looks like us.

Maybe the “Left” bit will draw in some disenfranchised and disillusioned ex-Labour supporters.
Maybe our openness and dedication to democratic process will feel like a breath of fresh air to them.

Whatever the name, the proposal is not to change overnight.
The name discussion itself is probably a great basis for public exposure.
“Brash new party stakes claims new territory in political landscape”

Including the term Libertarian would lead me to leave the party.

My impression of the party is that it focuses on equity. Equity Party or Equity Australia might get my vote.