What do the Pirates think of the Progressives?

I notice that the “New Choice” group has published a bit more about their new political party, the Australian Progressive Party.

Details in blog posts here, here and here.

While their intentions are similar to ours, the aim to be “not just another minor party”, so by definition intend to dominate the part of the spectrum covered by the Pirates, Hemp, Sex parties and the former Democrats - as well as some Greens and Labor supporters.

I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing them well and supporting their political aims but at the same time I don’t want to see support for the Pirates leaking.

Whether they can, or do, is another matter. Do any members have any more knowledge, information or comments about the new party?

I think that link’s meant to be http://www.progressives.org.au/.

I will be interested to see how the plan to be “not just another minor party” goes. ISTM your message and identity need to resonate with enough people to gain enough members and support for this to work. You would also need enough money to run candidates and campaigns everywhere. If they can make this work, and given that their values seem to be similar to ours, power to 'em.

I do think it’s a bit cheeky of them to use the word “unique” when describing how they’re going to do policy development though, given that this is exactly what we already do:

Make the policy for change (Really.)
We have a unique and comprehensive member based policy process where
all members can be involved in actually writing the party’s policies on
every single subject you can think of. The Policy Working Groups meet
virtually, working on a wiki, so it doesn’t matter where you are, you
can be a part of it. And then when a policy is ready, every single
member gets to vote to approve the policy before it is accepted into the
party platform. And our parliamentary representatives are obligated to
uphold member balloted policy – they can’t ignore it like other parties

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Given their initial “steering committee” was made up of at least two people who were members of the Pirate Party, it’s unsurprising that’s the policy development model they’re going with.

It’s good that we’re inspiring other movements to take our best bits and run with it. :smile:


I think it’s great to see another party forming with a keen interest in open democracy, technology, freedom of expression, etc. I support PPAU because I want to see the party’s values and policies reflected in our government - and I think we have many competent and intelligent people who can help make that happen. So if we lost members to another party because they were better at accomplishing the same goals, that’s still a net win for all of us!

However, I don’t know if I see the value in the sort of top-down organisation that the Australian Progressives plan to follow. They outline several ways they will “do things differently” from microparties (in what I think is a needlessly hostile tone), but of course, they haven’t actually had the chance to do any of those things yet. They won’t draft policies, hold party nominations, and so on until they have already received enough funding to hire core staff and build up their member base. What if they don’t get that funding, or can’t build up a large enough member base? What incentive is there for anyone to Kickstart a fledgling political party based off their mission statement?

I’d be interested to learn about parties from other countries that were formed in a similar way, and how successful they have been. But right now I don’t feel there is enough value in “waiting until the party has a strong base before we actually do anything” to offset the whole “not actually doing anything” part.


Personally I’m of the opinion that someone eventually will succeed in creating a party that fills what I’ve called the ‘pragmatic progressive’ space in Australian politics, and the sheer number of different efforts aiming at that space suggests there’s an unmet demand for it. I recently joined the Pirates however because I came to the beleif that it was by no means certain that anybody would succeed in doing that in the foreseeable future, partly because it seems to me that the only people with the political skills to make it work are all committed to established parties. In fact it seemed to me that the Pirates may be most likely to fill this space, so I thought it best to join an existing party I support, and try to help them succeed, rather than waiting to support some other party that may never exist.

I don’t see anything there that convinces me that those folks will succeed, but I think there are a couple of things that probably give them a better chance than other efforts. Firstly the name - they’ve gone with the most easily understood and obvious name for a party aiming to fill that space. It would’ve been my No. 1 suggestion for a name for such a party and I’m surprised nobody took it until now. If they can gain a foothold I think the name will be very helpful to them.

Secondly, the grassroots organising structure of teams and social clubs rather than traditional branch structures is exactly what I envisage as key to creating a new kind of party, plus the online decision-making of course (and of course this is stuff we are/can do too).

However, the idea of starting by hiring a bunch of staff to run a non-existant party seems odd. It may be quite useful if the party takes off, but I don’t believe it can in itself cause the party to take off. IMO, and after some experiences over the past year talking to various people who were interested in forming new parties, for a party to gel you either need a respected ‘leader’ who brings people together and thus overcomes the various differences of opinion that everyone has regarding what the new party should be like, or you need some specific issue or cause that serves as the catalyst for bringing people together. These folks seem to be explicitly rejecting both, so I’m not sure how they will inspire/motivate people to join them and believe that they are the real new powerful force in Australian politics.

Also, the idea that their MPs, if they ever have any, will be bound to vote in accordance with the party’s balloted policies is a common bit of idealism, especially from the left, but as a former member of the only parliamentary party in Australia that claims to do something similar, the NSW Greens, I can assure you this is far more complex in practice and even with online processes I think it would still be quite impractical in such a strict sense. It may discourage better candidates if they feel they’re not going to be able to have a say in deciding how to get the best policy outcomes for the community in parliament.

Good luck to them, but I’ll be sticking with the Pirates thanks :slight_smile:


I think their success will most likely hinge on what they do between elections. It seems that the micro-parties exist for the once every three year election battle and don’t really campaign between elections. Our success so far is because we want change and therefore go about trying to make it happen. Elections aren’t the sole vehicle for that. If we can change the policies of the major parties to reflect our own, the result is the same as if we get elected, hence the review work and political campaigns we get involved in.

Erm, we expect that of our candidates.
7 Pre-Selection of Candidates for Election to Federal Parliament

6 All members wishing to run as candidates for Pirate Party Australia must sign a declaration to the effect of:
a) I hereby pledge to advance and adhere to the platform and ideals of Pirate Party Australia, both during the election campaign and upon election to Parliament.

Generally, we want people who will represent our politics and not sell us out once elected. It may not be completely enforceable, but we want to build the culture where our elected representatives actually do what we put them there to do.

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Well yes we should preselect candidates who support the platform. That’s the most straighforward control to try to ensure the right people are getting elected to represent the party. I think the problems come in interpreting how the platform is to be implemented. Unfortunately there’s no perfect answers. I think it is inevitable that any party which gains elected representation will have some kind of dispute over policy with or amongst its elected reps. To put upfront, as they have, a claim that they’re going to avoid that is unrealistic unless they expect to select candidates incapable of independent thought (and I guess you could say some parties appear to do that).

Personally ideally I’d like a party to have a core platform that candidates have to support, but a second layer of policy detail where some more flexibility might be tolerated provided prospective candidates indicated upfront anything they didn’t support, and members can then decide if they still want to vote for that person in the preselection. That way if you had a potentially outstanding candidate who supports everything the party stands for but has a problem with a specific policy detail, perhaps because of a local issue, they wouldn’t be dsqualified from being a candidate and members could still choose to preselect them if they’re happy to tolerate that disagreement.

I would point out that the vast majority of Australians dislike and distrust political parties. There was some recent polling that I seem to recall found only about 15% of people trusted political parties. People see them as machines that are unrepresentative of the wider community and exercise disproportionate power. We should always be careful to remember that those of us who join political parties and get actively involved in them are not ‘normal’ people. The larger political parties in Australia have memberships that are somewhere around 1% of the people who vote for them. Parties are however necesary institutions, because they enable the pooling of resources, geographic reach and an ongoing presence that independents can’t achieve. Parties must have policy platforms to give them a common, distinguishing purpose and an enduring reason to exist. I am certainly hopeful that the more transparent and participatory model of party organisation that we’re seeking can avoid the negative perceptions of traditional parties. I think it’s possible for example that mechanisms like timely online polls may be able to go some way to enabling practical mass membership participation in MPs’ decision-making, but given the unique position that MPs are in to have access to expert advice and contact with stakeholders and thw broader community, I don’t think it’s realistic or desirable that you can have a party where members can always dictate how the elected reps will vote. We advocate deliberative and/or direct democracy processes to give the whole community, not just one party’s members, more influence over public policy-making.

This is a bigger issue for the ‘Progressives’ than for PPAU. PPAU has a more specific ideological base that should see a naturally much higher level of policy agreement. Those folks are proposing a far more broad-based platform and even community preselections, which would make policy disagreements internally, and divergence between majority views of members and views of the voter base who’ve preselected MPs, far more likely. MPs will feel they have a broader ‘mandate’ from their community preselection and quit the party if they don’t like an official policy. It’s presumably based on a desire to avoid the problem the Democrats had with the GST, but maybe those situations are sometimes unavoidable, and maybe more likely avoided by other mechanisms.


Some of you may have noticed that the story of the Progressives took an interesting turn when another party also calling itself the Australian Progressive Party also appeared on the scene last month, as reported here

The other Progressives are connected with the March in March movement, which according to that Guardian article, had ‘a very public split’ with the March Australia movement - I thought they were the same thing but apparently I missed something. They appear to be aiming at being a left-wing populist party, and they have compared themselves with the Spanish party Podemos. They’re clearly beating the Kath Crosby Progressives in terms of social media audience.

Presumably whoever gets their registration application into the AEC first will secure the name. Crosby is saying in that article that she thinks her party will get 500 names by December, but I suspect the MiM Progressives will beat them to it at that rate.

It looks to me like a genuine coincidence that these parties have simultaneously sought to claim the same name. It was an obvious name for someone to snap up and although it appears the MiM Progressives may have rushed forward their launch in order to secure the name once they saw someone else trying to get it, I think it is quite plausible that they both independently planned to use the name and came up with similar colours.

Either way though, it’s a bit of a disaster for both of them.

I noticed that too @ncasmirri. The “Tony Abbott - Worst PM in Australian History” FB page was promoting it - then I noticed the FB and Twitter URLs were different to the Kath Crosby ones. Asked a couple of questions and my posts were deleted - which pretty much told me what I needed to know. After a few tweets to Kath Crosby I found they had been in discussions only 2 weeks earlier.

Of course, having a FB page with 200k likes is going to be VERY beneficial (as I’ve noticed already, the MiM Progressives have just over 1000 likes, the Crosby Progressives have about 200.

I don’t really have any allegiance to either - only to the Pirates :slight_smile: - but I do feel sorry for Kath Crosby - having spent much of a year doing her best to ensure this would “not be another minor party”.

That’s interesting. They do seem to have different visions for what kind of party they want to be, which is why I’m inclined to believe they did form independently, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some BS surrounding their fight for the name. I was always under the impression that MiM had a deeper objective behind it, so this kind of makes sense, and the MiM Progressives are pointing out they created their Facebook page in 2013, placing it before MiM was launched, which certainly seems to cast MiM in a new light.

No allegiance to either of them from me eithier, just interested to see who’s doing what.

I’m surprised neither of them made more effort to secure the name before going public, eg through nailing down all the potential variants of the name on social media.

I don’t personally know Kath Crosby, and have had nothing to do with her except for some partisan sledging in blog comments a few years ago. I just know she attracted some controversy over her role with the Democrats - see here for instance http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/09/21/democrats-brave-foray-into-21st-century-hits-a-snag/

I reckon a lot of people walk up to a ballot box and derpily read down the list of names and tick the ones that sound good. In that regard, Pirates may be at a disadvantage while Progressives sound comparatively more sensible and may appeal more to frustrated Labor voters who don’t care that much about the environment and so don’t vote Green.

A group of minor/micro progressive parties all directing preferences to each other - sounds like what the RW parties did last election. Is that a good thing? Will it help capture more votes and channel them?

I would like to see greater collaboration between various progressive people. Maybe we could go meet these parties’ representatives and figure out what’s going on and why they don’t like each other.

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For anyone following along - FB updates - first from the “Australian Progressives” (the MiM one)

March 3:
For the past several months we’ve each worked our rear ends off to form this new party and lodge a successful registration with the AEC. We are officially a Party now! We thank you for your support, now and into the future.

And from the “Australian Progressive Party” (the Kath Crosby one):

March 3:
Congratulations to The Australian Progressives for achieving party registration with the AEC!
We are now taking the opportunity to rebrand our party to better articulate our centrist position.
We’re for working together, with integrity, with the facts and with context.
We’re for for reason, not just ideology.
There’s plenty of room for new thinking in Australian politics. Here’s to new choices!

March 13:
We are excited to announce that we’ve joined forces with the Mutual Party!
Mutual Party President Colin Ball said the compatibility between the two organisations is very strong, with both parties at the sensible centre of Australian politics.
If you too value reason over ideology, join us! http://www.progressives.org.au/mutual_party_joins_app

March 18:
We’re halfway through our renaming consultation period, and we’ve had some great discussion over at our Members’ site. Have you had your say yet? http://members.progressives.org.au/forum/30

That release says they are in talks with a number of other small parties.

Do we know which parties?

Also is that something the Pirates would consider? I’m new. But I imagine strength in numbers can only be a good thing.

At the start pretty much every left to centre party was mentioned: Greens, Democrats, Pirates, Sex, HEMP, Future, probably some others. This was months before the party formed though.

PPAU is probably different to others as we are part of an international movement of related parties and we have a shared identity with them, I guess you could say. (Not withstanding the withdrawal from PP International)

A merger with the ‘Australian Progressive Party’ would cost us our identity and leave Australia without a representative of the global pirate movement. I can’t see much in their policies that touches on our areas of interest- but then most of their manifesto is blank. Which is odd in itself - they’re strategising, appointing, merging and so on without having defined what they’re actually about. Any party without a meaningful and defined agenda is at high risk of flying apart, Palmer United style. They won’t have a common purpose to bind them and the various divergent and absorbed groups won’t be able to agree on one after the fact.


We also have one of the most developed platforms of all political parties in Australia, and strong evidence-based policies.

We would be doing ourselves a disservice by being subsumed by a “big church” party.

The strength in numbers mentality also seems to be an unique concept in the political world, particularly as it only seems to arise within Anglo-based political systems, regardless of voting system.

Sweden since the early 20th century has been a five-party system with proportional representation (communists, social democrats, conservatives, agrarians and liberals). UK, US and Australia have mostly been two or three party systems at most. This by definition cannot lead to representative governance, as your interests can never be wholly represented as there are competing interests within the parties themselves.

What is more troubling is that the UK and US have first-past-the-post voting systems while we have a preferential system, and yet a two-party system still developed. This seems largely due to the house of governance, the House of Representatives, being majoritarian in construction and not proportional, ensuring the dominance of two parties except in exceptional circumstances.

So given that the constraints of our current system make it very difficult for PPAU to gain seats in the House of Representatives, what are we doing? I quote the Party Constitution:

Objectives of Pirate Party Australia also include:

  • To construct, advocate and implement policies in accordance with the principles stated within this constitution; and
  • To generally educate and bring awareness to the issues that are stated within this constitution; and
  • To educate and encourage other political entities to adopt our objectives, whether that be through advocacy or preference allocation.

The Pirate Party, and by extension the movement itself, has always been simultaneously about lobbying and activism while attempting to achieve political power. It is also worth noting that a balance of power situation can be just as effective as having dominance in the lower house, which is another part of our general strategy.

It is imperative that we remain an independent organisation. This doesn’t mean we cannot forge alliances and work closely with others. No, what it means is that we can do that. Once you’re consumed into a big church party, your specificity is killed. We wouldn’t be able to strongly fight on international issues such as copyright, nor take “radical” positions as everything becomes insular and focused on taking power.

It just perpetuates the cycle, and Pirates aren’t about perpetuating cycles. :smile:


Great response. Thanks.

I didn’t think of it as perpetuating the cycle but after you point it out it does seem quite obvious.

Thanks for your kind words. :smile:

As it’s an extremely slow cycle so it can be overlooked as a natural and positive occurrence, big church parties are symptomatic of systemic issues. Single issue parties are however the opposite end of the spectrum, which Australia also suffers from.

Why? Because we have a partially proportional house which attracts single issue parties, and we have a majoritarian house that attracts big church parties. It’s really quite amazing if you think about it.