Federal Politics

Labor gives preferences to extremists

Labor is preferencing ultra-nationalist party Rise Up Australia, which wants to fight the ''Islamification'' of Australia and ''keep Australia for Australians'', in seats across Australia.

But Labor says it has not made any deals with the party it describes as ''extreme fringe'', saying its how-to-vote cards are designed to ensure every vote intended for Labor flows back to Labor.

A Fairfax analysis of Labor's how-to-vote cards shows Labor has put Rise Up Australia in its top four on how-to-vote cards - often ahead of independents, the Greens and the Australian Democrats - in one in five of the 77 House of Representatives seats in which Rise Up is running candidates.

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The anti-multiculturalism party, led by Catch the Fire Ministries preacher Daniel Nalliah, wants to ban abortion, same-sex marriage and women wearing burqas in public, and calls homosexuality ''abnormal''. It says the notion that climate change is man-made is ''a quasi-religious hypothesis unproven by objective scientific facts''.

Mr Nalliah famously blamed Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires on the state decriminalising abortion. He conducted exorcisms in 2009 on Canberra's Mount Ainslie, convinced that red markings on the mountain were evidence of witches' covens practising their dark magic on the outskirts of the city.

A Labor campaign spokesman said: ''We completely reject their politics and what they stand for. Labor advocates a vote only for Labor. In Australia, we have high rates of informal votes in elections and our how-to-vote cards are designed to ensure that every vote intended for Labor, counts for Labor.''

The 15 seats in which Labor advises voters to put Rise Up in their top four include former prime minister Julia Gillard's seat of Lalor, being contested by Joanne Ryan, the ultra-marginal Corangamite in Victoria, and the marginal WA seat of Brand, held by Gary Gray.

Of the 14 candidates Rise Up is running in WA, Labor has put them in the top four spots on its how-to-vote cards seven times.

Labor has also put Rise Up third on its how-to-vote cards in Andrew Leigh's safe Labor seat of Fraser after the Palmer United Party, ahead of the Democrats, Greens and pro-public transport party Bullet Train for Australia.

The Liberals have placed Rise Up ahead of Labor in all seven seats Rise Up Australia is contesting in NSW, and 30 of the 31 seats Rise Up is contesting in Victoria.

Asked what arrangements had been made between Labor and his party, Mr Nalliah said: ''To be honest with you, zero. No arrangements at all.''

Mr Nalliah said he had had ''unofficial talks with people in Labor and the Liberals'' and felt that his party had been given favourable preferences by Labor in some seats because it was sympathetic to Rise Up policies, including concerns about Islam and multiculturalism. Asked why those sympathies had not been made public, Mr Nalliah suggested Labor's sensitivity to political correctness.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Andrew Leigh's electorate as Canberra

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