David Jackmanson

Journalist in Brisbane, Australia

Yesterday the hashtag #TerfMonday, started by Twitter user @Miss_Sudo, had a very visible time on Twitter. The hashtag refers to the term “TERF”, or “Trans-Eradicating Radical Feminist”, the sort of feminist who believes that transgendered women are actually men in disguise trying to move in on “real” women’s spaces.

(Call me crazy, but if I wanted to invade women’s spaces, I wouldn’t do it by adopting a “disguise” that means I’d be at a huge risk of being bashed or murdered).

The hashtag has a specific point – to encourage people to lodge formal complaints about one leading TERF, Cathy Brennan, who is a lawyer in the state of Maryland in the USA. Brennan has a history of vicious harassment of transgendered people, including outing 2 trans girls at different schools, contacting employers and health insurance companies, labelling women who don’t fit her definition of “woman” as “pretendbians”, and so forth.

@Miss_Sudo has created a template for anyone who wishes to complain about Brennan to the Maryland Bar Association: Maryland Bar Grievance – Cathy Brennan Template (this is in Microsoft Word .doc format)

There is also a zip file containing a copy of that template, and screenshots, links etc documenting Brennan’s harassment of trans women.

 

In August this year, a faction claiming to be the legally-registered Australian Democrats political party lied to the Pirate Party. They said they were the legally-registered party, when they knew full well they were not.

The faction of lies, which includes “National President” Hayden Ostrom-Brown, went twice to the Australian Electoral Commission to get themselves declared the official, legally-registered party. Twice, the AEC refused. The faction then went to the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal, who handed down a preliminary decision on Monday. Ostrom-Brown is now desperately spinning a line in that decision out of context to try to prove he is right. But once again, he is lying.

Some background: The AEC was originally asked to make Paul Morgan (a member of the faction of lies) the official Registered Officer for the Australian Democrats. The other faction of the Democrats challenged this, as the Registered Officer is an important post – the RO is the only person who can officially lodge a party’s election candidates with the Electoral Commission. Because the request to make Davey the Registered Officer was challenged, the AEC gathered evidence from both sides, and finally decided that the Democrats’ internal rules hadn’t been followed, and that Davey wasn’t the Democrats’ legitimate Registered Officer. That decision is what Davey is challenging at the AAT.

The AAT’s preliminary decision was about a request from a number of other people, including Ostrom-Brown, that they be formally included as parties to the AAT challenge. That request was refused because, says the AAT, 1) their interests can be properly, represented by John Davey, who is formally challenging the original AEC decision and 2) a final binding legal decision on the farce inside the Australian Democrats can only be made by a court.

Ostrom-Brown has jumped on point 2) and wrestled it into something it doesn’t say at all. Ostrom-Brown is now claiming the AEC “acted unlawfully and without power”, but the AAT decision says no such thing. In fact, the current AAT decision says *nothing* either way about the way the AEC handled the original decision. All it says is that because the final decision about the Democrats will need to be made by a court, it would be a waste of time and money having ten different people as officially part of the case at the AAT.

Ostrom-Brown also claims the AAT’s decision is “a legal finding that it [the AEC] had made inappropriate decisions about the party’s internal election of office bearers”. The AAT says no such thing in Monday’s decision.

Hayden Ostrom-Brown is a proven liar,  yet he wants to lead the party whose most famous slogan is “Keep The Bastards Honest”. Anyone who wants integrity and honesty in politics should avoid having anything to do with him.

The Australian Democrats is one of Australia’s once-great minor parties. In the 1980s when Green parties around Australia were tiny and divided, the Democrats held the balance of power in the Senate from 1981 all the way until 1993, and remained a big factor until 2005. However the party broke out into open civil war in the late 1990s, which has led to their continuing exile from the Federal Parliament since 2008. While the party may be out of Parliament, the struggle to control it continues and has spilled over into the 2013 election campaign, potentially putting at least one member of one of the factions into legal hot water.

On Sunday, the Pirate Party released a Statement of Preferences explaining what preference arrangements they had made and why. The statement included a passage “Australian Democrats deal considered null and void“. It appears the Pirate Party had not checked with the Australian Electoral Commission and made certain who the legal officers of the registered “Australian Democrats” political party were, but just sent an email to the organisation who comes up first if you search online for “Australian Democrats“. The trouble is, that organisation is NOT the official Australian Democrats who are registered as a political party – their website is here.

What is going on? Well late last year, as part of the struggle to control the Australian Democrats, one group claimed the other group had broken the rules, had automatically been expelled, and that therefore a new group was now in charge. A Stuart Horrex and a Paul Morgan applied to the Electoral Commission saying that they were now the official Secretary and Registered Officer (a crucial position) of the Party. However the other group in the Democrats protested to the Electoral Commission, and in May the Commission ruled that Horrex and Morgan were not the legal officers of the Democrats. This decision was upheld upon review by the Commission on August 10 2013.

So when (according to the Pirate Party), a Mr Dan McMillan got in touch with the Pirates to discuss a preference deal with the Democrats, McMillan knew for a fact he was not  authorised to talk about preference arrangements for the official Australian Democrats. I spoke to the President of the official Australian Democrats,  Mr Darren Churchill, tonight and he confirmed that Mr McMillan had no authority to speak for the official party.

The Pirate Party state that they reached a deal with Mr McMillan, thinking they had reached a deal with the official Democrats. The Pirate Party went ahead and kept their part of the deal but the official Democrats, not knowing such a deal had even been discussed, gave the Pirate Party very low preferences.

Mr McMillan’s actions appear to be illegal. It is illegal, during an election campaign, to:

“print, publish or distribute, or cause, permit or authorize to be printed, published or distributed, any matter or thing that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote”.

Most lies in an election campaign are legal. It’s perfectly legal to spread the most brutal lies about an opponent to win. But it’s NOT legal to confuse voters about *how* to vote. This usually means you’re not allowed to, for instance, tell people the wrong day to vote. But let’s look at this a bit closer:

What McMillan tried to do was get the Pirate Party to think they had done a deal with the offical Democrats. The Pirate Party published all details of their preference deals on their website. Therefore, had the Pirate Party not noticed that the official Democrats had given them a low preference, statements on the Pirate Party website would have said a vote for the Democrats would go to the Pirate Party if the Democrats weren’t elected.

That would have been a misleading statement about the “casting of a vote”, and it would have been “caused” by McMillan mis-representing himself as an authorised negotiator for the official Democrats. The maximum penalty for breaching the relevant section of the Electoral Act is six months’ jail, or a $1000 fine. The Pirate Party have stated they intend to refer their complaint to the Australian Electoral Commission.

UPDATE

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After some generously-spirited comments online suggesting that my legal interpretation is incorrect, I thought I’d lay out in some more detail why I think the behaviour of Mr McMillan is a breach of the law. On Page 7 of this Electoral Backgrounder published by the Electoral Commission, the Commission says that if a publication helps you judge who to vote *for*, then the rules about misleading conduct don’t apply. If the publication misleads about “the actual act of marking the ballot paper”, then the law against misleading publications DOES apply. It says “The AEC notes that the distinction between these two things is a question of fact and degree”.

So, consider a voter who had ALREADY decided that their favourite party was the Democrats, and their second favourite party was the Pirate Party. That voter would believe, from statements caused and permitted to be published by McMillan, that voting “1″ Democrat in the Senate was one way of effecting their political judgment. And they would have been misled.

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Mr Abbott speaks at a carbon tax debate in Brisbane, July 2011

Mr Abbott is clearly utterly unsuitable to be Prime Minister. This obvious fact won’t stop Australia voting Ms Gillard out in September.

If I’m right, a weak, flailing, out of his depth PM will start wondering what he’s doing. What moves should we make NOW to get ready?

2012 was a good year. I found out what it’s like to have an amazing, intense, intellectual friend wife for me while I went and worked full time.

I’ve marshalled the money effectively – for me the only point in working these long hours is to get materially ahead – and I’m glad to be able to point to concrete gains I’ve got by spending money well. This has been my most emotionally and financially prosperous year ever.

Also, I LOVED going shooting, and Sydney friends, remember lunch on Wed Jan 30 – the plane tickets are all paid for!

I’ve improved my mental and physical fitness, but I have a long way to go there. Keep on pushing.

It’s not just money I’m marshalling, but plans. Plans for political infrastructure to help small groups, plans to get on radio again with a tight show focussing on local music, plans to make content AND have a day job. My fitness MUST improve for this to be possible, and these plans will take two or three years. But I can see how they can happen.

Anyway. 2012 has been full of love and achievement. Thanks. I hope you enjoyed it too.

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See the photoset at Flickr

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000 advise fire engines are on the way

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