The Citizens Electoral Council of Australia (CEC) is a minor nationalist political party in Australia affiliated with the international LaRouche Movement, led by American political activist and conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche. It reported having 549 members in 2007. They have been described as "far right and "lunar right".
League of Rights publications now warn their readers to avoid the CEC, citing attacks on the British Royal Family for supposed drug connections and LaRouche's criminal convictions. They warn that the LaRouche movement is "strongly pro-republican" and that they have received reports that LaRouche's organization is being used by the Zionists.
In 1996, then-Liberal Party MP Ken Aldred, often tied to the CEC, 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 anti-terror legislation. In 2007, 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 a CEC election candidate three times. Other members of the Isherwood family are also prominent in the CEC; Noelene Isherwood is the party's National Chairman.
The CEC follows the LaRouche line of skepticism towards the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Having lobbied the ABC to screen the film The Great Global Warming Swindle, then packed the audience for a post-program audience discussion with members who made comments about "carbon 14, eugenics, Plato's cave and Nazism", referring to fears of global warming as "Hitler-Nazi race science... this will destroy Africa".
The official thirteen-point platform is as follows:
In its campaign literature, the CEC claims to associate itself with "a tradition" including such Australian figures as the Rev John Dunmore Lang, King O'Malley, William Guthrie Spence, Frank Anstey, Daniel Deniehy, Jack Lang, Ben Chifley and John Curtin. The CEC also seeks to associate itself with a "bygone tradition" of the Australian Labor Party, by which it appears to mean the democratic socialist and protectionist policies abandoned by the ALP since the reforms of Gough Whitlam in the 1960s and 1970s.
The CEC's website declares the party's opposition to "synarchists", which they define as "a name adopted during the Twentieth Century for an occult freemasonic sect, known as the Martinists, based on worship of the tradition of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte...twentieth-Century and later fascist movements, like most terrorist movements, are all Synarchist creations. The CEC advocates a number of conspiracy theories adopted from the worldwide LaRouche movement, including that the Port Arthur Massacre, in which Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and injured 37 others, was instigated by mental healh institute the Tavistock Institute on the orders of the British Royal Family.
The Anti-Defamation Commission of the Australian branch of B'nai B'rith (a body similar to the Anti-Defamation League in the United States) has published a Briefing Paper with details of the CEC's alleged anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-Aboriginal and racist underpinnings. The document cites CEC publications which accuse the CEC's opponents of racism. The CEC in turn has published a detailed 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." (The British Privy Council is a purely ceremonial body which no longer has constitutional connection with Australia or the Commonwealth of Nations.) 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, is an honorary patron of the ADC.
The party fielded candidates for the Senate and most House of Representatives seats at the 2004 federal election. In some seats it distributed glossy full-colour pamphlets, setting out its views, as well as billboards and television advertising in some areas, suggesting that the party has access to sources of finance greater than its small electoral base would suggest. Australian Electoral Commission records indicate that the CEC has successfully raised several million dollars since 2001.
Despite this fundraising, the CEC polled extremely low totals again in 2004. The day after the election preliminary figures showed that the CEC had 34,177 votes, or 0.35 percent of the national vote, in the House of Representatives. Out of the 95 electorates in which they were represented, the CEC came last in 80 electorates.
Between September 2005 and January 2006 The Australian reported upon alleged infiltration by the CEC of the National Civic Council (NCC), claiming the latter organisation's dismissal of its state executives over the Christmas 2005 period was an internal coup. CEC chairman Noelene Isherwood, while denying outright infiltration, was cited by The Australian's reporter Greg Roberts on 17 September 2005 as saying: "We know that a lot of their [i.e. the NCC's] members are supporters of our ideas. That's good to see." It should be noted that writers such as Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton and other prominent Catholic apologists championed by the NCC's founder B. A. Santamaria are condemned in LaRouchist literature as "pro-Nazi".
At the 2007 federal election, the CEC's previous form continued. The number of first preference votes in the lower house was 27,879 (0.22 percent), and 8,677 (0.07 percent) in the upper house, both results were 0.14 percent down from 2004. However, in the Northern Territory Senate count where a quarter of their vote came from, the CEC received 2.01 percent of the vote, overtaking the Australian Democrats. Territory candidates, however, require a much higher quota to gain election than candidates in the states.
The CEC also includes the Australian LaRouche Youth Movement (ALYM), the Australian branch of the International LaRouche Youth Movement. It was founded in August 2002, and focusses on the economic thought of Lyndon LaRouche and Australia's "republican tradition of figures such as John Curtin and King O'Malley" (neither of whom were in fact republicans).
The ALYM's responsibilities have included managing the groundwork in Federal campaigns, aiding State Campaign efforts, collecting signatures for petitions and mobilising the public and Parliament against anti-terror laws. Members are often found on the streets of Melbourne, home of the National CEC office.
In October 2003 the members of the ALYM, with the help of some members of the International Youth Movement, organised its first "Cadre School". The ALYM hopes to "organize the youth population of the country and harness the enthusiasm and optimism that they offer." The ALYM works for CEC candidates in election campaigns, distributes LaRouche literature and collects signatures for petitions.
The ALYM claims that its membership grew during the 2004 federal election campaign, during which they worked for CEC candidates in three election campaigns in the Melbourne region, in Maribyrnong, Calwell and Melbourne Ports, where they went door-to-door handing out copies of the election edition of the New Citizen, which featured articles on the fight for a National Bank in Australia and the founding of the Australian Liberal Party in the 1940s, and explaining the potential of "LaRouche's New Bretton Woods" and the "dirty state of the Australian political scene".
Twelve ALYM members ran for the House of Representatives and for the Senate in Victoria at the 2004 election. They also managed three flagship campaigns in the Melbourne Region, including the campaign of Aaron Isherwood, himself a member of the ALYM, standing against Michael Danby (long parliament's only Jewish MP and a well-known LaRouche opponent) in the seat of Melbourne Ports. All candidates polled very low votes.