As the polls point to a Coalition win tomorrow interest is now focused on the Senate where a record 529 candidates nationally will be vying for a seat in the House of Review.
In NSW voters will be choosing from up to 110 candidates. Among them is Dr Alison Broinowski, an academic in Asian studies and a former Australian diplomat of 28 years who jokingly refers to herself as a granny.
But the WikiLeaks candidate for NSW is a force to be reckoned with.
Dr Broinowski has either written or edited 11 books on the interface between Australia and Asia and Australia’s role in world affairs. Her last overseas assignment was in the Australian Mission to the UN in 1989-90, and in 2005 she co-published with James Wilkinson The Third Try: Can the UN Work? She is currently developing a research project on public and cultural diplomacy.
Her most recent book, Allied and Addicted (Scribe, 2007) challenges the value of the Australian-American alliance and in 2003 she wrote Howard’s War, as Iraq was under heavy bombardment.
That war was the genesis of her interest in politics and the proud granny of four (two boys and two girls) is now ready to do battle in parliament.
“As a result of the Iraq War I became disillusioned about how Australia could become involved in an illegal and immoral war,” she said.
She followed the rise of WikiLeaks, then, out of the blue, came a call from John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father inviting her to become a candidate for the newly formed WikiLeaks party.
“I had seven questions I needed answers to before I could contemplate the offer. Greg Barns, the party’s convenor, answered those questions and I accepted,” Dr Broinowski said.
Staying in touch with party leader Julian Assange can be challenging as all contact is via emails but Dr Broinowski said she enjoyed the exchanges as Assange could be quite “pithy”.
She emphasised that the WikiLeaks party platform is not just about whistleblowers but is also concerned about asylum seekers, climate change, tax reform, transparency and accountability, and media restructuring.
“These are all reasonable policies. WikiLeaks is not a party of bomb throwers,” she said, adding that her approach if elected would be focused on “getting the facts and basing all decisions firmly on those facts”.
“I would pay particular attention in the Senate to issues of transparency in defence and trade. The Senate is the proper house of review and holds politicians to account.”
An internal party conflict over preference allocation in NSW and WA that saw WikiLeaks preference the Shooters Party and other small right wing candidates above the Greens brought unwelcome media attention during the final weeks of the campaign.
“It was a mistake and we will deal with it,” Dr Broinowski said.
The plethora of small parties and intricate preference deals are making the ultimate make-up of the Senate unpredictable. Parties like the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics, One Nation, Palmer United and Family First could end up with the balance of power. But depending on how the cards fall tomorrow, so could WikiLeaks.