Monday, December 20, 2010

Western Australian Information Commissioner Denies Australia First Its Own Records!

In a decision soon to be published on the website of the Office Of The Information Commission (Western Australia), the Commissioner has denied the Australia First Party access to what are – in effect – its own records.

This decision was not unexpected. The text of the decision itself can only be held as good public relations for the party, but it does not help us in the organizational stakes. What was the matter about?: some 2000 membership forms of the former ‘Australia First Party Incorporated’ (AFP Inc), a body incorporated under Western Australian law and now defunct. These memberships were received from 1996 until 2007. Could we recruit from this database if we possessed it? Undoubtedly.

Historical Background Of Deceit

The former AFP (Inc) was the original ‘Australia First’. It was registered as a Federal party (deregistered August 2004) and it was formed as an incorporation under Western Australian legislation (registered 1996, deregistered February 2006). The old party wound down and experienced various difficulties and did not seem to function with appropriate determination and efficiency. It drifted along at a time that most considered it was time to construct an activist nationalist movement.

In September 2007, the genuine leaders re-incorporated the party as ‘Australia First Party (NSW) Incorporated’ and in June 2010, this body was registered as a Federal political party. Many members of the former incorporation joined the party – which considers itself the proper successor of the former.

In May 2009, the legitimate party secured the effective wind-up of the old incorporation (which had purported to, in some manner or other, continue to exist three years after it was deregistered as an incorporation) and its assets were transferred to the Western Australian Department of Commerce for distribution. Our party received the monies and the other equipment of the old incorporation– but not the membership records. We applied under Freedom of Information law for our records.

The Battle For Our Membership

The new party has a valid moral claim upon the membership records. As we submitted to the Information Commission, t was hardly the fault of our leadership that a few persons in the old incorporation acted improperly and had maintained that the incorporation still existed in law. Indeed, had the legitimate leaders known of the situation within the former party, they would have acted at once to secure the members’ rights years before.

Many of our leaders were members of the former association as were many of our members. The constitutional and programmatic documents remain the same. Nonetheless, the Information Commission insists that the two ‘parties’ are different’ entities in law and that it would violate the “privacy” of the persons in the old Australia First to have the new Australia First contact them.

This is humbug, a political decision through and through. We have little doubt that the bulk of these people would welcome contact from the party and the opportunity to affiliate to it.

Rotten Politics

The court system can, as a general rule, be expected to “find” in favour of state-interest. It is not in the interest of the state that Australia First Party possesses these records. In this day and age, “privacy” is often cited by Freedom of Information tribunals etc to deny people information. Yet, the state violates our collective privacy daily and with increasing totalitarian venom.

The national committee of Australia First party will act to secure its records.

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