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13 Feb, 2013 17:49

First step made: Assange official applicant for Australia Senate elections

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has submitted his application to the Australian Electoral Commission. This is the first step in his attempt to become an Australian senator in September 2013 elections in Victoria state.
First step made: Assange official applicant for Australia Senate elections

The electoral enrolment application was handed to the Australian Electoral Commission in Melbourne on behalf of Assange by his supporters, including his father, Sydney architect John Shipton. "They are people who are close associates, academics, specialists in their field and activists as well," WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance (WACA) spokeswoman Sam Castro was cited by The Australian.The address nominated in Assange's application was his mother's house in Mentone, in the federal electorate of Isaacs, WACA confirmed. The party, not yet registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), has an initial 10-member national council; all supporters and close associates of Assange and pro-WikiLeaks activists. The council plans to convene within a week to gather members to officially register the party – it needs to find 500 people to qualify.As the Australian election legislation reads, Australian citizens living overseas have a right to register to vote and run for office at home in case they left Australia within the past three years prior to the election and plan to return within six years of their departure.Mr. Shipton, who played a great role in the initial organization of Assange’s party, believes his son will gain a lot of public support.  "I think there's a lot of support for Julian and even more support for what Julian stands for," Assange’s father was cited by local AAP news agency.Media reports suggest Assange’s application for the Electoral Commission was disturbing news for the Greens party that hopes to win another Senate spot in Australia’s most left-wing state.The party, which has in recent years been seen as too serious, old-fashioned and authoritarian, now fears young Victorian voters usually attracted to the Greens party will now have another option, Australian independent news site Vexnews reported.Last year UMR Research, the company the Labor Party uses for its internal polling, predicted that Assange could be a competitive Senate candidate in Victoria. After taking political asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London in June, Assange expressed interest in the senate seat in December, when he announced that he would run as a candidate as part of WikiLeaks party. However, Assange might not be able to be physically present at the Australian senate as he remains trapped in London’s Ecuadorean embassy in order to avoid extradition to Sweden.Stockholm has called for Assange to be questioned in the presence of those who made the sex crime allegations. This has raised concerns from Assange's lawyers that the WikiLeaks founder could then be extradited to the US after arriving in Sweden.If taken to the US, Assange will likely face trial for the release of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.