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The Australian Citizens Party (ACP), formerly the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia (CEC), is a minor far-right political party in Australia affiliated with the international LaRouche Movement which was led by American political activist Lyndon LaRouche.
The party has campaigned against Pine Gap, Australian anti-terrorism legislation and the Anti-Terrorism Act 2005, Mandatory Detention and the Pacific Solution. The party also denies the existence of Anthropogenic climate change
Craig Isherwood is the founder and leader of the CEC.
The original CEC was established in 1988 by local residents of the Kingaroy region of Queensland. CEC candidate Trevor Perrett won the 1988 Barambah state by-election in Queensland, after former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen resigned from State Parliament in 1987. However, Perrett switched to the National Party in December 1988. Members of the Australian League of Rights, an extreme right-wing group led by Eric Butler, tried unsuccessful to take over the new party. Its purpose was to lobby for binding voter-initiated referenda.
By 1989, the CEC leadership was under the influence of the Lyndon LaRouche movement. By 1992, the CEC identified itself as the Australian branch of the broad international LaRouche movement. National Secretary Craig Isherwood moved the headquarters from rural Queensland to a Melbourne suburb, with direct communications links to LaRouche's US headquarters established.
In 1996, then-Liberal Party MP Ken Aldred, was disendorsed by the Liberal Party after using parliamentary privilege to make allegations of involvement in espionage and drug trafficking against a prominent Jewish lawyer and a senior foreign affairs official, using documents that were later found to be forged, supplied to him by the CEC.
In the mid-2000s, the party found support from Muslim groups opposed to the detention of suspected terrorists by the United States at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In 2004, the CEC received the largest contribution of any political party, $862,000 from a central Queensland cattle farmer and former CEC candidate named Ray Gillham.
The CEC leader is National Secretary and National Treasurer Craig Isherwood of Melbourne, who has been an election candidate for the party numerous times. CEC was registered as a political party by the Australian Electoral Commission on 27 June 1997 and deregistered on 27 December 2006. The party was re-registered on 4 September 2017. The NSW Division of CEC was registered on 5 August 2004 and deregistered on 27 December 2006.
The CEC has lobbied for "the establishment of a National Bank and State Banks for provide loans at 2% or less to agriculture (family farms), industry and for infrastructure development", launching a petition in 2002 to drive support with a full page advertisement in The Australian newspaper. In early 2008 the CEC started campaigning for a "Bank Homeowners Protection Bill of 2008", calling for legislation in the spirit of the Australian moratorium laws enacted in the 1920s and 1930s.
The party follows the LaRouche line of climate change denial towards the theory of anthropogenic global warming, referring to fears of global warming as "Hitler-Nazi race science". The party espouses the claim that the Port Arthur massacre, in which Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and injured 37 others, was instigated by mental health institute the Tavistock Institute on the orders of the British Royal Family. and that the Australian Liberal party was founded by pro-Hitler Fascists.
The CEC's policies have included introducing a national Glass-Steagall Act to "break up the banks", establishing a national bank, introducing a moratorium on home & farm foreclosures, constructing high speed rail and the Bradfield Scheme, joining China's Belt and Road Initiative, shutting down Pine Gap and opposing the existence of climate change among others.
The Anti-Defamation Commission of the Australian branch of B'nai B'rith (an international Jewish organisation) has published a Briefing Paper with details of the CEC's alleged antisemitic, anti-gay, anti-Aboriginal and racist underpinnings. The document cites CEC publications and quotes former CEC members. The CEC in turn has published a response to the ADC's accusations and described the ADC "as a front for Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council, the ruling body of the British Commonwealth". This allegation, that there is a link between the ADC and the alleged power of the Privy Council, has been attributed to the fact that Sir Zelman Cowen, a former Governor-General of Australia and a member of the Privy Council, was a member of the ADC's board of advisors.
Former members of the CEC and families of current members have accused the group of "brainwashing" members and engaging in campaigns involving "dirty tricks". For example, former CEC staffer Donald Veitch has claimed that new recruits undergo "deprogramming sessions" and that recruits are probed for sexual peccadilloes. Veitch has stated: "The mind control operations commenced by Lyndon LaRouche in the USA in the mid-1970s are still being practised today within his movement in Australia".
Despite running in "almost every election of the past two decades" in no election has the CEC ever garnered more than 2% of the vote.
At the 2007 federal election, the CEC's previous form continued. Its first preference votes in the lower house was 27,879 (0.22%), and 8,677 (0.07%) in the upper house, both results were 0.14% down from 2004.
At the 2016 federal election, CEC fielded senate candidates in every state and the Northern Territory and seven candidates for seats in the House of Representatives. Nationally, the party received 5,175 votes (0.04%) in the lower house and 9,850 votes (0.07%) in the upper house.
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