Assange says his bid for Australian senate seat has set off alarm bells

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 4:52am

When the votes are tallied tonight after Australia's election, most attention will be focused on the lower house, and the make-up of the expected new government.

But for some, it is the Senate and the fate of Julian Assange's newly founded Wikileaks Party that hold the greater intrigue.

Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London as he seeks to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, said in a telephone interview with the South China Morning Post on Thursday that the prospect of his party entering the senate had set alarm bells ringing within Australia's political establishment.

"It is hard to imagine another political party that the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal-National coalition would be more scared of," Assange said.

Assange, the party's leader, is confident of securing at least one seat. Polling conducted by UMR Research earlier this year found substantial support for the party, with 26 per cent of those asked saying they were likely to vote for Assange and his party, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report in April. Each Australian state elects six senators this election, meaning the quota of votes for a party to be guaranteed a single seat is 14.28 per cent.

However, a clear assessment of the party's chances is difficult, given a lack of detailed recent polling and a complex system involving the exchange of preferences between parties.

Assange has criticised the nation's major parties, saying they have become political dynasties and together formed a political cartel.

He said that, from a philosophical point of view, both ends of the political spectrum had good aspects and that his party's stance incorporated those.

"From the left, we take the principle of justice and from the right we take the principle of liberty. Justice is concerned with the abuse of power. Liberty is also concerned with the abuse of power," he said.

Assange, whose Wikileaks website has been the bane of US intelligence agencies, has promised his party would expose government abuse and injustice.

"We would use estimates committees to force bureaucrats to testify and produce documents," he said.