State Branch Formation

This is a primer for the Strategy Meeting on Wednesday January 13, at 8:30pm AEDST in IRC.

When Pirate Party Australia first formed it was obvious that we needed to engage at a Federal level more urgently than at state or local levels. This was easy because the Internet removes geographical barriers and we could immediately campaign on Federal issues and have an impact without the need for local activism. At the time we had so much on our plate that we barely commented on state issues, but state governments are an important piece of the political puzzle that is Australia. We have reached the point (in fact, are probably well past the point) where we need to establish ourselves at a state level.

Some work has been done to prepare for state branches of the Pirate Party, but we are at the point where members are going to have to step up and run the branches for themselves.

Mozart has drafted state Constitutions based on the Party Constitution, that take into account the conditions laid out by each state’s electoral laws. Check the link below:

There has been a detailed discussion of state branch platforms on Discuss here:

We need to form a Team to stitch together state branch platforms based on our federal platform. We also will need volunteers in each state to form Teams to get each State branch on its’ feet. This means holding state congresses, ratifying both state Constitutions and Platforms and should there be enough activity, electing Councils to run the branches.

Just expanding on this to explain the common elements and differences between each draft. These drafts are quite old now, as I believe Brendan and I worked on these before Congress 2014 (Brisbane). Also readers should bear in mind that these are not set in stone and were intended to be modified by the Branch Formation Working Groups, the National Council, and the State and Territory Branches.

The WA legislation does not provide for a Registered Officer. Consequently the final member of the State Executive Council for WA is the Policy Development Officer. This decision was made by the WA Branch Formation Working Group and may be changed. The role of Agent under the legislation has been assigned to the Treasurer as it relates to electoral finance reporting.

The ACT, NSW, NT and Qld legislation require a Reporting Agent (ACT and NT), Party Agent (NSW) or Agent (Qld). As a result, the draft constitutions for those branches assign the role of Reporting Agent/Agent to the Registered Officer.

Under the ACT, SA, Tas and Vic legislation a Deputy Registered Officer must be appointed. The branch constitutions allow the State Executive Council to appoint any of its members except the Secretary or Registered Officer to this role.

The Qld legislation requires a number of provisions which are explicitly set out in the Qld branch constitution. It states that for the purposes of ss 76(1)©(i)–(ii) of the Electoral Act 1992 (Qld), the membership requirements in the Federal Constitution apply, subject to any further requirements of the legislation. In accordance with ss 76(1)©(iii)–(iv) it prohibits membership for persons convicted of a disqualifying electoral offence within 10 years before their application, and requires revocation of membership if an existing member is convicted of a disqualifying electoral offence.

Besides that, they follow the same structure of the Federal Pirate Party Constitution with some changes.

  • Definitions are essentially identical.
  • Provision is made for the Federal Party Constitution to confer responsibilities, obligations and limitations on branches.
  • They establish that the National Congress may make binding motions and directives and exclusively controls mergers and affiliations.
  • Disputes are resolved by the Federal Dispute Resolution Committee (including on interpretation of a branch constitution).
  • Only the National Congress can decide to dissolve a branch.
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The second half of last Wednesday’s strategy meeting covers the debate started here:

After reading the minutes of the strategy meeting I thought it would be appropriate to throw out a three word slogan I came up with a while ago

“Solutions. Not illusions”

And in longer form

“Real solutions to real problems”

A fair call from doggie015 requesting solutions not illusions.
I reckon real solutions require real people, getting real about their contributions. I live in West Aust, I see not much on site from my home state. So here is something on State / Fed policies.

The Federal policy platform is very workable and publicly presentable document. Despite the party vote gaining less than 1% at last best chance here - the Canning by-election. I believe a large part of that low score was that Pirates did not capitalise local issues. Roe8, a transport initiative that has become a quagmire, reminiscent of the wetlands it intends to go through. Light rail to Eastern 'burbs, not progressing, despite federal cash incentive. Fiona Stanly hospital initiatives that are yet to bear untainted fruit,Drug related crime hotspots. And lately, a notion dear to our hearts; a govt intent on stalling more FOI requests and questions in parliament than I think is decent, with commercial in-confidence statements. Read recent articles in “The West Australian” news.
These are all local issues that have federal implications via funding and policy.
SOLUIONS: PPAU policies regarding more open and accountable govt would have made EPA targets more available for Roe8, now in courts.
PPAU policies go some way to dealing with Health and Transport, but need more local fleshing out, after doing some community consultation at local forums.

My overall comment then is that while State parties need to adhere to governance from Federal party, State candidates will need to comment on local issues, in both State and Federal elections. They will need local knowledge and to have some forward plans to garner local votes. I do not think that Fed party would have resources to canvas issues in each state.

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I think state members should be free to write and promote short, catchy election manifestos if they wish, as long as they don’t directly contradict the existing platform. These would be written specifically for elections and cover whatever the candidates think is best for that specific time and place.

Writing really detailed long-term state platforms would be a poor use of resources IMHO. The existing platform draws no distinction between state and Federal issues so a separated state-specific platform would be either full of redundancy or full of gaps. The states would be better focused on outward-looking things (recruitment, community building, meetups).

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Does anyone know where to find info on requirements for establishing a state branch? I know Qld doesn’t have enough members yet for a branch but I can’t find anything on government or AEC websites about how many members we need/other requirements. It would be good to know where to find such things before next year for recruiting reasons. Cheers. :slight_smile:

Each state has their own electoral commission.

Electoral Commission Queensland


@Emily, the guts of it for Qld are >500 prospective members (or one MP) and a complying constitution.

Thankfully, contrary to my previous belief, we don’t have to use the model preselection ballot rules (which have no provision for online).

@alexjago that’s a lot better than I anticipated. Do you know how many Qld members we have now?

About 250 Queensland members, according to @Feenicksreport at Congress.

Only 250 or so to go then. :S Thank you kindly!

As a Queenslander with no proportional-representation upper house, I’ve been ambivalent-to-against the idea of needing a formal Qld branch, on the grounds that it’d be a waste of effort. (Other states should 100% go for it.) I’ve changed my mind. Fellow Queenslanders, read on!

So, I now think it’s worthwhile, even up here. Obviously we’ll need a state-level platform, but we need that anyway.
Some of the most important things in any elections are services and infrastructure. Now, these are actually core State issues, much as @WestAustMicko identifies, so with positions on those, we’re relevant to the state elections too.

And the best way to get the platform out there is to run in elections.

In the other states, one could run for the upper houses with their low thresholds and statewide constituency, no dramas. But I’ve realised up here we have something worthwhile too: the Brisbane City Council Lord Mayoral election. BCC has over a million people in it, and its elections are due in early 2020.

Meanwhile, state elections are due in 2021. This sets up a virtuous cycle: the expected-2019 Senate election pushes us over the 500-member hurdle. Register by end of 2019. BCC LM election 2020. Run in just a couple of high-profile State seats in 2021. Have dramatically better name recognition for the expected-2022 Senate election.

I hope I’ve demonstrated that even in Queensland it’s worth running at a state level.

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In the leadup to Congress I sketched out a plan to activate State Branches. Due to the focus on Strategy I left it off the agenda because we have more important things to discuss. With Congress over and a demonstrated lack of organisation at the State level in NSW, this is probably a good time to lay it out.

I put it in the old thread to give the current proposal some context and history.

State Organisation

In order to bridge the gap from where we are to where we want to be, we will need to make state branches functional. It is easier to get elected to local councils or State legislatures than it is to get elected to Federal Parliament. If we manage to get into government somewhere, it will be easier to get into government anywhere, in part because being elected lends legitimacy and in part it makes getting media much easier.

I propose we try to recruit a few volunteers in each active state to be a steering committee, each with their own role. If we don’t have enough interested people, filling any of the roles would be better than having none filled. I think the roles should be:

State politics coordinator- Responsible for keeping abreast of state politics, using social media to share related content and organising Pirate participation in politics. Talking about state level politics will hopefully generate interest in state level politics which will help draw in more activists.

Bureaucrat- Responsible for collecting details etc. in order to get to the position where we could register a state party. Getting registered is a serious pain in the arse, we need someone to take on this onerous responsibility. I pledge to buy anyone who successfully deals with their state electoral commission to get a branch of the Pirate Party registered a beer, everyone else should make the same pledge for it is an onerous task.

Organiser- Responsible for organising meetings and events and communicating with the NC and the rest of the party. Also responsible for sharing Pirate events on social media.

This can be expanded as required by the steering committee as volunteers get involved. Each state should eventually have their own tasks for pirates page on the wiki, so actions on the state level can start happening.


I honestly don’t think we have the manpower to crystallise state steering committees like that, even for 3 base level positions. I’m slowly coralling ideas for a push from minor pate -> state registered party here in Queensland and once I do I will have an active roadmap but in the meantime it’s all we can do to share ideas and play by idea.

Starting a meetup group, putting up posters and doing flyer handouts is a great start. I’m also thinking of ways we could do organise a “sit in” as an informal protest for some of the more egregious civil rights abuses at a Federal level.

One thing that needs to be done before state branches can be formed is amending the Privacy Policy’s section on application forms to include state-level Electoral Commissions.

I also agree with miles in getting a better way to organise - are the Paragon meetups promoted anywhere outside of the calendar? (I recall one twitter post, but not with enough notice to really count)

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The way I envisage it, each role could exist without the others being filled for some time and still benefit the Party. Most States are too large geographically for all members to be able to attend meetings. The Organiser would need to live in or very near the capital city, but the State Politics Coordinator wouldn’t need to be able to attend meetings. Think of it as a framework as proposed in Swarmwise. We have the positions available and volunteers can step into the roles as they wish and just start making stuff happen.

For example, if I was NSW State Politics Coordinator, I would keep a close eye on NSW politics generally and could help run a NSW twitter account. This would generate a bit of discussion about the Pirate role in state politics and might convince others to want to contribute. To do this I wouldn’t need to live in Sydney or attend physical meetings. It could be a solo role for a long time.

Equally Organiser could function without a politics coordinator and just organise monthly meetings at a minimum. If someone was keen, they could try and get other actions and events going and organise Pirate contingents at broad protests that we support organisatonally. They would need to live in or very near the Capital so they can regularly attend meetings.

The Bureaucrat has to do the dance with the electoral commission, collect the forms, check member data is correct etc. With some help from the National Council, they could get us well on the way to registration without the other roles being filled.

@Simon is working on a new Privacy Policy, is this covered? It should be.

Not really, we don’t have anyone in charge of organising meetings. I have tweeted them in the past and can when I remember, but since it isn’t my chief responsibility I don’t always think of it. We lack dedicated people in the inner city of Sydney, everyone lives on the outskirts or further or only attends sporadically.


That makes much more sense as a swarmwise model, de-emphasising roles as titles and highlighting how people can contribute.

This is great, I see three types of issues:

National issues being handled by State Governments
Don’t forget that many “State” issues are actually issues also in the minds of people in other states or around the country, even though the current political structure of Australia puts that responsibility on State Governments.

For example, with Classification (Censorship), all the states collude together to make laws against us from watching content they don’t like, but it’s still an issue which affects us all.

Issues which are a hot topic in a particular state, but could apply anywhere in Australia
For example, in Victoria, Safe Injecting rooms are coming into the news again. State Government are in control, but it’s an issue the whole country faces even if it’s not currently in the headlines elsewhere.

Issues which are specific to that State
Things like specific transport policies (i.e. “build x freeway”, not “lets encourage more electric cars”) , this would be most suited to a State branch of the Pirate Party.

The point is, we can still make policy on a Federal level for many topics, but we need eyes and ears on the State level to see what’s important to the public, and not be afraid to address the issue from a national perspective (within the main Pirate Party formation) instead of accepting that it’s only a “State” issue just because that’s the existing structure.

Idealistically yes, realistically no, or we get another Sydney meetup where only a new person turns up and finds nobody there. We should encourage swarming, and we’ve had it done many times before, but the party needs to provide some basic assistance to help make sure it’s running smoothly. a State Organiser has access to official twitter/facebook accounts to help promote, they don’t necessarily have to be the organiser of that specific event. Also, informal groups can’t form a state branch.

Is a State Branch considered to be a Third Party?

This is already how we do policy. Drug policy and transport policy are mostly state issues covered by our platform, there is also land tax which is currently administered by states, which we see as being a major revenue source if we were to form government. The process for developing policies for state issues will continue.

That said, there is nothing in the plan that even mentions policy, we would need functioning state branches for there to be official state policies outside our national platform. Our stance on specific issues like the anti-protest laws in NSW is self evident based on our platform and principles. We can weigh in state issues already.

The idea of swarm organising is for the organisers (in this case, the NC) to create the framework and let volunteers fill roles or complete tasks as they come along. This is the exact sort of thing it should be used for.

The proposal is for volunteers to take on roles, not specific tasks. A state organiser would be the person responsible for meetings. The politics coordinator would be responsible for the political messaging from the social media accounts. We create the vacant positions for each state and fill them as we get people putting their hand up.

The roles can function autonomously for quite a while without the other state roles being filled, so someone volunteering doesn’t need the other roles filled to get on with it, with the possible exception being the bureaucrat. I put that in because there are rare people who love fulfilling bureaucratic roles and we need to bring them on board when they appear because they are very useful indeed. In most states, there wouldn’t be a great deal to do without the other steering committee members, in NSW it would be a full-on task in itself.

Not, but State Electoral Commissions are, and they aren’t mentioned in the privacy policy. It would pretty much be the same as how we handle our data with the AEC, but for states and territories.