Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has been officially registered as a political party in Australia ahead of founder and editor Julian Assange's run for the Senate later this year.
The party's registration was put up on the Australian Electoral Commission's website today. In order to be registered as a political party, it must have at least 500 members who are on the electoral roll and are not members of any other political party.
The party was formed when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced his intention to run for the Senate in Australia, despite currently residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been for over a year after the UK sought to extradite him to face questioning in relation to allegations of sex crimes in Sweden.
Assange will run for the Senate in Victoria, but the party has already said it will field Senate candidates in Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia.
In a similar move to legislation already before the parliament from the Greens, the party has pledged to bring before parliament amendments to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, so that all agency requests for telecommunications metadata from ISPs would require a warrant.
Should Assange get just over 14 percent of the vote and secure a Senate spot, he would be the second person to be elected to an Australian parliament while living in London, after Earl Grey in 1848. Assange would assume the position from July 1, 2014, but if he has not returned to Australia by that date, it is unclear how he would take on the Senate role, short of him resigning and the party finding a replacement to take the Senate seat.
Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam, who has been a staunch defender of WikiLeaks and Assange, is up for re-election at the upcoming federal election. While the WikiLeaks Party does have the potential to lure votes away from the Greens, Ludlam is not concerned about the impact the party would have on the votes for the Greens.
"I think that's the least interesting aspect of this whole thing. Crossbenchers in Victoria and all over the place get elected all the time," he told the ABC last month. "The Greens have got a 20-year track record right across the board, so I don't think WikiLeaks is a threat."
This federal election will see a number of new parties seeking a spot in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Pirate Party Australia — a party centred around freedom of speech, information, and for privacy protection — will field a number of Senate candidates, while Independent MP Bob Katter will also have Katter's Australia Party candidates, and mining magnate Clive Palmer will have his own party, Palmer's United Party, running candidates in the election.