Talk me out of resigning my membership

I’ve been feeling more alienated from the party over the last few months, and I find people asking me things like “Why do you have a greens placard on the front of your house if you’re part of the Pirates?” and the answer, I think, is that this party doesn’t represent me.

I’m one of the founding members, having bartered a laptop video dongle at the party’s very first in person meeting to pay for my membership at Sydney’s Customs House Library. We sat upstairs in our own room, chairs arranged in a big circle eyeing each other off as we introduced ourselves in turn. There were three people who stood out - a beatnik musician from a roach infested slanty walled slum in Newtown, a woman - apparently the disinterested girlfriend of one of the participating men, and me, a hippy-like girl inspired by the great works of the Swedish Pirates. There was also something like 50 completely unmemorable white male IT professionals, some of whom lead our party today!

Still, it was a start. Since then, we’ve registered, contested, and lost an election, now we’re set to do so again. And we do it with a team of candidates who are white men. I look at this, and see that meeting, and the values of the party. A party I joined with hopes that it would represent me as an artist, sculptor, and coder. A party which would value culture above nearly all else. A party which would embrace the “no copyright intended” attitudes of remix culture online. A party to help codify our culture of sharing in to law. A party to revive inventiveness, and help people build on the works of others, and stand on the shoulders of giants, and a party to help strengthen our democracy, through experiments with direct democracy and new ways of providing representation, as well as promoting technologies that distribute data, and power along with it. Technologies like BitTorrent, and presumably Bitcoin, which had only been invented a few months earlier.

I don’t think this party ended up being that thing at all. I don’t see the Australian Pirates taking stands against data silo’s like Google building nest eggs of risky personal data and hypocritically lashing out at governments when those governments dare to use their infrastructure to collect the same information (without paying google for it, of course!). I don’t see us speaking really at all about copyright, patents, or remix culture anymore. I don’t see the arts or culture itself valued, or any representation for remix culture beyond the bland mass market stale memes it publishes to try and stay relevant to an audience that is much more engrossed in the movements of Scott Ludlam than anything this party has ever done.

What I do see is a party that tries to distance itself from it’s heritage. Whose leadership openly discusses with great enthusiasm dropping the name Pirate, as if valuing remix culture is some shameful phase it has since has grown out of. I see a party desperate to be an issue party, but unable to decide what it cares about. Maybe it’s basic income? Maybe it’s broadband internet? Maybe it’s social welfare? Nobody knows! Perhaps cursed to retain a name with meaning and impact simply by it’s inability to figure out what it passionately stands for anymore.

So going in to this election, where I plan to give my primary vote to The Arts Party or perhaps The Greens, I wonder, why am I still a member of a party that I don’t even want to vote for?

Talk me out of it. I figure this could be an interesting topic.

A little about me: I’m a young lesbian, with severe illness, who has always been a non-worker on a Disability Support Pension. I spend my time creating new culture with people by building animatronic props and animating 3D VFX, helping build prosthetics for anyone whose life could be improved by it, trawling hashtags finding people like me and feeling less alone. I’m an award winning sculptural artist and game designer, and my software tools and libraries run on thousands of web servers around the world and tens of thousands of little hardware doodads used by Arduino fans. I contribute nearly all of my creativity to the public domain, or the creative commons. I value people, culture, and privacy, but not possessions, as I have always had a Basic Income of sorts.


I don’t think we’ve distanced ourselves from our heritage. I think we’ve extrapolated on the civil liberties and social equality areas that underpin our ideals. Privacy, freedom of speech, basic income, government accountability and anti-authoritarianism are all things related to allowing free, unencumbered artistic expression.

We don’t want homogeneity in the general membership or the leadership of the party, and I can see that we haven’t had enough diversity.

Please, instead of leaving the party, contest some positions on the national council at the congress in July and join the policy development committee to help us retain focus on the areas that are important to you.

If we seem spread thin, it’s because we are. We do believe in our broad platform - members having ratified all the policies with at least 85% acceptance, I think, and broadening the platform helps us communicate our ideals to a wider audience.

Could you please throw your hat in the ring at least for the policy development committee or media team, and help us put forward the message you’d like to see?

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We are still heavily focused on culture, it just isn’t the only thing we talk about. I am a musician, I work part time in a warehouse to pay the bills and I spend too much time doing stuff for the party to put enough energy into my music as I would like. My partner is an artist, mostly a sculptor. I don’t get to talk about my art a lot because I don’t feel I can use the party to promote it, and unless you are interested in dance music, you wouldn’t care about what I do anyway.

I spend about a third of the time talking about culture when I represent the party in the media, a third of the time talking about civil liberties and internet freedom (which tends to be tangentially about culture) and the rest of the time dealing with everything else, like basic income, patents (the media almost never want to talk patents) and other policy areas.

What really changed the party from being focused on primarily on culture was Wikileaks. It was publishing really important stuff and we believe in transparency, so this set us on the path of fighting for civil liberties. On the back of that, both governing parties wanted to lock up the Internet through data retention, ACTA, the TPP, mass surveillance and now website blocking. Fighting against this stuff is important and a good use of our time.

Politics is determined by who shows up. We spent a lot of time with very few people showing up. We managed to hold the line with putting out press releases, responding to government inquiries and developing policy. That was what the people who wanted to contribute wanted to do. It isn’t what the party could be if more people put in time to help out.

If you want the party to talk more about culture, help us do that. We can’t do that for you, you have to use the party as a vehicle to make it happen. You have to participate. I have found that if you get something started, people are more than happy to jump in and help because enthusiasm is contagious. Just post ideas here and see what comes of it.

We want to be more diverse. One of our candidates is pushing to develop better practices because of the lack of diversity in the Party. He is enthusiastic about it and hopefully will pick up that ball and run with it after the election. See this thread. We will be better for it. Help with this if it interests you, I will try to help too.

The only way we can be what you want us to be is by getting involved. You can’t leave it to other people, we will stuff it up. :wink:


I would encourage you to stick around.

Whilst I am probably if not the at least a poster child for “unmemorable white male” I do share your passion for the roots of the party and stand vehemently against distancing from that tradition.

I personally have had a similar thought process to what your going through, and kept out of party activity for some time until I felt it time to try make a difference here, from the inside. There are others going through the same process. United we stand… if you can and want to be part of the ones who make the difference, make it into something relevant.


It should be a natural instinct of the left to work together, but it can get difficult at times.

The changes to the senate votings system mean if we stay the same we cant win at the federal level, thats going to become more apparent after the election.

If we are fragmented into dozens of separate specialist parties none of us will get a seat at the table, if the pirate party can bridge the gap between different micro parties we might be able to form the core of something larger. Perhaps enough to win a seat at the table.

This is a difficult stage we (and all micro parties) will have to go through, we have to try and define and carve out a larger niche, we need to look at other parties that are similar to us, like the Arts Party, the HEMP party, Voluntary Euthanasia (and others), and define what we have in common, and decide if we are stronger together. If we should merge our policies or parties, officially or unofficially.

We should have the goal to get a primary vote of 4% IMO, thats where we start getting funding, and when we will be taken seriously, it requires us to broadening our core policies, but it doesnt mean we have to compromise on them.

An alternative is to not focus of policy and become more of a lobby group, and throw stuff at them from the outside, which would be fun, but would be difficult to maintain (maybe a plan B)


G’day bluebie,
Interesting read and I understand what you are saying…but I believe single focus/issue Parties are going to have less and less say in the new senate.
After the Democrats I toyed with the idea of being a Green (admired Bobby B) but then I went to a meeting…(and this is what I saw)
“The old guard communists and neo-feminists were at each other hammer and tong, there was the free-marijuana group looking and smelling interesting in a corner, there were a group of commune enviro-extremist (honestly using running water would have been helpful), a bored muso and lonely looking gay were biding their time as a group of uni lecturers ran the meeting regardless of input from those present or no.” Diversity here was fucking useless!
I didn’t see a working meritocracy at work and new members had little or no say. Just my opinion but the Greens have become quite corporatised. Whereas here, you’ve got an opportunity to help shape the direction of the Party.

Your concerns:
** Mono-culture - yes it’s true. Even in your first meeting it mostly attracted white (very white!) boring IT pros. If we diversify and become more a Political Party (with a diverse portfolio) that Lobbies and Protests where Governments or Organisations are taking advantage of Aussies or is moving Australia backwards; then we become something very special and will attract more diversity in our membership.
** Losing Focus - partially true but people like you can help get that back.
** The name - I’m one of those that supports no name change. It stands out and fuck societal norms, we are what we are and we against stand for stuff that ignorant Australians just accept cos they could be bothered cos it’s too complex (which is the BS that they’re taught/brainwashed to believe from advertising, media and Governments).

Fuck! Complacency is an Australian curse. If you feel we’ve become to conservative get up and protest against the TPP, against the shit sandwich artists get cause of lack of laws safeguarding artist’s income, against data retention - write to the local paper, write to your local member make you own focus/lobby group. If your not inspired, like any artist - make inspiration to inspire others…and us too! WE NEED PEOPLE LIKE YOU! You won’t get that opportunity in the Greens unless agreed upon by their bureaucracy.


Caveat: I’m not one of your IT pros. Worked 20 years in the Disability Field, started 3 businesses all of which just made me poorer, an amateur Digital Audio artist, a muso, a Linux advocate, a child of the 60s, unemployed (going to be a full-time student soon) and atheist. I’m currently volunteering at a Depression drop-in centre that’s lost all funding so we’re in a struggle to stay alive. But I am white, male and hetero…sorry about that…


Just adding my thoughts, which are likely to already have been echoed by the posts above:

  1. I have been around since near the beginning, like yourself, having been around since end of 2009. My first meeting attendance was the Congress at the NSW RSL, Ever since I started, I’ve observed lots of change growth wise, but with growth comes requirement for maintenance. The struggle we’re facing is lack-of volunteers to help with that maintenance. This is of course NOT a potshot at anyone at all, all members have varying degrees of availability due to individual circumstances, in some cases none at all, and that is acknowledged and respected. Some prefer to help only when asked for it, and that’s OK as well, because at least they’re doing something for the party as a whole, even if it isn’t proactive, but without some people putting their hand up asking what help they can provide, resourcing is strained. No one will be judged if they say “I’ve never helped before but would like to do so now”, in fact this is encouraged, because we then know they want to help make a difference.

  2. In extension to the above point, All our candidates are a male whitewash, yes, HOWEVER that is purely coincidential, because they are the only people who put their hand up. We never put any stereotype restrictions and never will, and in fact it goes against our own beliefs to do so, it just happens to be unfortunate that no nominations from female members had been put forth. This does not mean we have never had females in leadership/authoritative roles. We had Melanie Thomas who served as Deputy President in 2013 and also contested under our banner for the Griffith by-election. Michelle Allen contested at the Canning by-election last year. Rebecca Howard who for a time served as our Social Media Officer, and Nilay Crafti who is on the Dispute Resolution Committee. This should help show and suggest that we’re more than happy for female members to come forward, and we recommend it. We WANT female participation, but first we need them to put their hands up in nomination.

  3. As far as our focus is concerned, I don’t believe we’ve lost it, just expanded on it. Yes, the Pirate Movement came about as a political defence of the prosecution of The Pirate Bay, but that’s a single issue. The way I see it, we turned into a party of about 3 or 4 issues to about a dozen or more, because I envision our representation to not be of just the technology-savvy generation, but to also represent the future of what we need, at the same time as improving quality of life for those not-so-savvy. We represent the modern era.

  4. As a party, we’ve been represented at a number of debates and protests, but the reason why still no one knows about us is because the media doesn’t care, and the reason why we’ve not been to some is because we were either not invited, or the whole thing turned into radicalism/extremism. The media only want to talk about sensationalised events as that’s what rakes in the $$$, not things that you and I and the rest of us know really matter, because they think society doesn’t give a shit about what we want to fix. With the radical debates/protests, we don’t want to be seen as another “LEFTY COMMUNIST” party as staunch Liberals like to say (I have some friends who are like this, and they say it plenty when the topic of the Greens is brought up). Yes, we’re a Left party, but we are NOT “LEFTY COMMUNISTS”.

  5. The whole meme thing. This is just PR stuff. Memes weren’t really a thing back when we first started, but now they’re so mainstream that society has made it near-necessity to for the average person to know what memes are, and almost some expectation to use them at least once. Yes, our initial attempt at memeing may have been a little to be desired, but it’s one of those cases that you don’t know what will or won’t work unless you try it. Memes might not be for everyone, but then again almost everything in life is going to have some sort of opposition to its existence. The memes are just a means to engage with our community. It might not be the best quality stuff, but we’re trying, and evolving as feedback is provided.

My suggestion to you is to please stay, and put yourself forward in whatever capacity you feel you are competent and capable of doing to help us to help you. You never know, the level of impact you could have could influence you to rekindle your interest in the party all over again and possibly even dramatically improve our chances of getting a single seat, but first we need to know what you need/want. This of course does not have to be discussed publicly.

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@Frew You have a new follower on soundcloud. It makes me really happy you shared that. Dance music drives people better than just about anything. I am now curious to see how your sound evolves. Keep at it! A party with goals to disrupt or perhaps even abolish copyright, and promote culture and the arts, surely should celebrate the individual works of it’s contributors. It’s super important for creators to be highly visible to dispel the image of Pirates as greedy consumers that media industries try to portray.

@bug1 why should the pirates bridge the gap? seems better equipped to work around this issue.

@ all who suggest I participate more:

  • My illness is unpredictable and severe. I can’t plan what I will do beyond today. I don’t know how I will be tomorrow. I can’t be depended on.
  • My traumas are severe, and the shouting, the intimidating riot police, the smell of pot wafting through the air at many protests… I don’t like the flashbacks. I don’t like painful physiotherapy to undo what that stress does to my body. I don’t go to many protests anymore.
  • Angry men too, terrify me and bring about flashbacks. Passionate debates, or even arguments, are something I can’t regularly have in my life.

What I do, is I try to survive. I’m not doing very well at it, and I’ve lost a few friends in this term of government. Just last week, a friend of my friend-family died in the Orlando massacre. The world is not a safe place. What little spare energy I have, goes mainly to helping my friends be okay, then i fill in the gaps with art that help fill up my brain and stop me from thinking the bad things. I’m not made of the right stuff to be passionately political. At least, not yet. But what I do need, is strong voices to represent me. People who are passionate about things like making sure poor kids who just want to watch some cartoons aren’t criminalised by copyright cartels, or demanding funding for mental health, so next time I try to check in to psych ward, maybe they’ll have a spare bed - they didn’t last time, because of the budget. This week, I’m trying to figure out who those voices are, so I can vote early and avoid the scary crowds.


You don’t have to do much to participate, starting this discussion is participating. If you ever have ideas for art, culture jamming, flashmobs or anything please suggest them. If you don’t want to do so publicly, email a member of the NC and we can share it without you having to own the project. There is no minimum requirement of how much you must do (unless you run for the NC or something), every little bit helps. :slight_smile:


Actually i think Progressive Alliance has a better chance than Our formal involvement in something like that really depends on how or if our niche changes, it can be difficult to change, but its also difficult to start again, so im not sure how its going to end up. But i do expect there is going to difficult choices ahead for a lot of small parties.

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woah. okay. convinced. they lost my primary. that does not align at all with the attitudes of one of their candidates, who I talked with for hours a couple months ago. what the hell.

It’s also worth pointing that that the Greens are backing away from fair use.

I’ll quote that article as it’s behind a paywall:

Greens arts spokesperson Adam Bandt told an audience of arts sector members at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on Wednesday that the Greens were not in favour of the US fair use model.

“I think this is something we have to get out in front of so it doesn’t become the subject of litigation, and the real question has to be: how do we ensure people are fairly remunerated? For me it is a question of fair pay rather than fair use… If that’s our question, then we can approach the subsidiary questions of how we deal with digitisation, the fact that people’s works can be reproduced easily … I think there’s two camps developing here. One that’s just unequivocally pro-US style approach, pro-fair use, and another that is saying, ‘we’ve just got to maintain existing settings and everything will be fine. If only we prosecuted more people for breaches of copyright it would be fine.”

Bandt said Australia needed to work out how to “get in front of that” because “otherwise Google is going to win".

Whatever our flaws might be, you can be certain that we’d never retreat from supporting fair use and we’d never recycle the copyright industry nonsense that fair use is about “google vs artists”. It’s always good to get a nudge from people who’d like the party to pivot a bit more towards issues they’re passionate about. But be fair to us: we’re clear where we stand on the really big questions. Greens and others who see IP as a peripheral issue are not clear.

I’ve been wondering along similar lines, except that I do still want to vote Pirate.

My misgivings began to gel with the proposal to put Libertarianism at the forefront of the Party.
For me, Libertarians are people who don’t like being told that they can’t do what they want, where they want, when they want. I’ve never seen anything to convince me that a society of such individuals would work.

More recently, Frew indicated that he would vote against anything that he didn’t understand. I see that as a very Conservative attitude. What I don’t understand, I don’t vote on.

That slow drift to the Right worries me. I am looking for alternatives.


We are a party founded on the need for civil liberties, on the need to limit governmental power over individuals. That has been front and centre of our Party since our foundation. Look at our drug policy, our attitudes to free speech, to surveillance and censorship. They are all about limiting the power of the state over individuals. We are civil libertarian. We don’t go for the user pays, free market everything, screw the poor attitude of right wing libertarians however.

I am the chief advocate for our platform to the media. How the hell do I advocate for something I don’t understand? How the hell do I know if the idea is any good? Why would I support something if I don’t know it is any good? How is that conservative? I don’t understand Christian Theology, it doesn’t mean supporting it would make me progressive, quite the opposite I suspect.

It is incumbent on anyone advocating for any policy within the Party to explain it to members in a way that they understand what they are voting on. It is important to deal with questions and opposition respectfully and not resort to insults. It is the only way it will pass.

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This is absurd. Voting against something one is not knowledgeable is the way we play our critical thinking, and is how our policies have matured in detail. Challenging something gives meaning to debate, to insist on clarity.

To do so otherwise (voting on something you don’t understand) is how the government has fucked us over to begin with. Brandis’ inability to define an “Internet address”, for example, showed the Australian public that he’s not fit for that part of his role, and dealing with this technology is something he’s voted on to support control of.

Do you really want any of us to follow this way of thinking? Do you really want us to undermine our principles?


Civil liberties and Libertarianism aren’t synonymous. The latter, in particular, has taken on a very dark hue. Even terms like “free”, “freedom” and “liberty” have taken on negative connotations. Perhaps we need a different descriptor.

Advocating for something and voting for or against are different concepts. None of us understands everything. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll concede that. You’ve indicated that you see only two options. I’ve pointed out a third.

If you concede that none of us understands everything, then you’ll inevitably find yourself “advocating” what you don’t understand. It comes down to a question of trust. Observe other political leaders.


If it’s any consolation, it could well be that their policy on this only really solidified since then.

Hi Bluebie,

I feel you, both from the face of the party at present and the fact that I cannot contribute easily. I’m very proud to have worked on the Cultural Policy, which I believe at least sets out the bread-and-butter of what the movement is about – stuff that I think everyone “gets” and “believes” but isn’t really spelled out for those outside the movement. Hopefully this will evolve over time.

However, there’s a problem. We can’t even talk about culture in a world where our liberties are so far gone. We aren’t operating in the 90s where only certain individuals in certain industries were annoyed and wanted to destroy us. In a way, that was a simpler problem for simpler times. Today, we have hostile governments arming themselves against anything which would constitute a citizenry. I can’t worry about the positive parts of our party when so much is at risk. I can’t think about remix culture when the entire internet is being monitored.

I, too, was disheartened with the proposed name change (I am strongly against it). However, I’ve seen what other Pirates have said. They too are against it. They, too, constantly talk about Patents and IP law, about valuing remix culture. We have a broad policy base which I believe has roots in “Pirate”. You only have to look at the pirate wheel for that. Overall I think it’s a good thing to have a policy for every situation because then it is clear how an MP will vote.

I can identify a couple of problems: One is that the party is spread too thinly. We have to be economical, and that means we cannot speak about our core issues at times. We also have no solid “movement” attached, in that the arts and culture which represented pirateness (for lack of a better term) has been thoroughly co-opted into mass culture. Part of the problem here is that there is no safe space where we can operate with impunity. We’ve often used anonymity to great effect, and we feel the chilling effects of the Snowden revelations very strongly. Finally, the centralisation of the internet (videos are on YouTube nowadays, not on BitTorrent) means our channels are dry.

In short, we need pirates more than ever. But in order to do so, we need a community with the ability to create a safe space where we can operate freely and impactfully. We just have to figure out a way to get there from here.


Agreed. It’s best not to vote on something you don’t understand. Voting against anything however, simply because you don’t understand it, is the democratic equivalent of witch-burning.

Brandis was advocating something that either;

  • was beyond his intellectual grasp or
  • he hadn’t bothered to study.
    Nobody would expect anyone in that position to understand everything about a field so complex. That level of ignorance however, does not show him as fit for the position.
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