Graham Askey from the HEMP Party.
Graham Askey from the HEMP Party.

Hemp party's election hopes dashed

THE Nimbin-based Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party has had it political party registration hopes dashed for another term – by an agonising four-day shortfall.

Following years of alleged bureaucratic bungling and goal-post shifting, the 1400-member party was on the verge of being legitimised when Prime Minister Julia Gillard called the election.

Having jumped through a plethora of registration criteria since the 2004 poll, when all small parties were required to re-register for party status, the Australian Electoral Commission tentatively approved the group's application, pending a 30-day objection period.

Unfortunately, when Ms Gillard made the trip to Yarralumla on Saturday it was only day 26.

Party secretary Graham Askey said that during the process the AEC had lost documents; had not replied to letters; and in one case waited up to five months to inform him of technical amendments required to their membership.

“If they were in private enterprise they'd have gone broke by now,” he said.

“Due to the dilatory work practices of the AEC, the HEMP Party has now been denied the right to run under its own banner for the 2007 and now the 2010 elections.

“The Nimbin Polite Force will be raiding the AEC offices in Canberra because it is obvious they are in possession of much stronger weed than we can get in Nimbin – and we want some.

“We will also be seeking a refund of our $500 application fee because they did not provide adequate service and they seem to have applied different membership criteria to different parties.”

Mr Askey compared the AEC process to that of the Building Australia Party – a group of tradespeople who had their app-lication fully processed in just two months.

“Only last week The Greens and the Labor Party were calling us up for preferences,” he said. “The only silver lining is we won't have to go through this torture next time.”

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