Features

We Found A Bunch Of WA Election Websites From 2001 And They’re Bloody Amazing

Collected by: Jonathon Davidson


Remember the 2001 election? Yeah, me neither. If you do: congratulations! You are not part of our target demographic, and thanks for being here. While the rest of us may not remember the 2001 elections you can be sure that the objective, cold and infallible memory of the world wide web sure does, and thanks to PANDORA – the National Library of Australia’s Australian internet archive – those websites are still around today to be viewed in their ugly, ugly glory. You can find the whole list here but the following websites are the best of the web Western Australian politicians had to give back in 2001, which was the first year that the internet became a serious part of the election. For that reason these websites are probably worthy of some serious sociological analysis, but instead we’re going to laugh at how ugly they are.

Website for Greens Senate Candidate Rachel Siewert 

PANDORA 1

Despite the undeniably late 90’s, ‘web 1.0’ aesthetic going on here, this isn’t too bad all in all to start off with. We have a decent menu, a very ‘Greens’ candidate headshot and some nice leafy graphics going on to really frame what Rachel is about. I know I said we were going to mainly make fun of these websites, but there’s two interesting things on this website for 2016 audiences to note – firstly, this pamphlet titled “Climate Change Flyer“, which appears to be a symposium timetable – what is interesting here is the column down the left side reading: “Rainfall in Western Australia has been decreasing over the last 25 years. Each summer we face water restrictions. Is this the prelude to Greenhouse? Or is something else happening?” In only 15 years, we’ve come a long way.

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Also of interest is this short video clip under the “multimedia” section of the website which shows Rachel Siewert criticising the Howard Government’s West Australian asylum seeker detention programs, showing that at the same time, almost nothing has changed in 15 years, except for small file size video quality.

Homepage For Pauline Hanson’s Party One Nation WA

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If you’re looking for advice on how to make a website really fucking boring, use this one as a case example. Even considering the time from which it came, this would have been low standard in 2001 as well. There’s not too much to see here, apart from the great one liner ‘Down to Earth politics for down to earth people’, which the Greens probably suppressed lowkey jealousy over for the entire election. This is about as boring as it gets though, and it soon becomes obvious that this bland front page is an attempt to appear presentable, because it doesn’t take long to start finding stuff like this:

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and this:

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The full list actually goes on to lampoon all 7 running parties at the time.

and this beauty:

Ohhhhh, now we get it.
Ohhhhh, now we get it.

Check out the press release section for a whole lot of fear mongering, old fashioned fun. They’ve also got a modern website which is still alive today, and honestly, it’s just as bad.

Vaguely Chinese-Australian and Ultimately Adorable ‘Unity Party WA’ 

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It looks like these guys were basically an “in-your-face” retaliatory party set up to oppose Pauline Hanson from becoming Prime Minister, given that the “information” section of the website has a few links directly pointing out why ‘One Nation’ shouldn’t be elected. In fact, the “information” section of the website is pretty much the only section of the website. There are a few pdfs but not a whole lot, and most letters sent to and from senators featured on the websites are written in plain html and treated as such.

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Feel the enthusiasm.

Unity Party WA did not try, and for that they should be remembered.

Who Cares: Wins / “Army Museum Of Fremantle Party” 

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By far my personal favourite. The best part about this website is that it was clearly made in an afternoon by two minor candidates who did not have any belief whatsoever that the internet would ever become an important part of an election. I’m also fairly sure that “Who Cares Wins” is a copyright dispute that never got to waste the court’s time. You can feel the well of haphazard frustration from which this webpage was born still pulsing all these years later as you navigate its abandoned backroads. There’s actually a human interest story going on here – the two candidates featured are father and daughter – Jim’s daughter Kate, forward left, was only 18 at the time.

So we start out with “senate campaign” and get a fairly standard wall of text. Normal affair. We try to click on Policies, but instead we find candidate information. We go to “Information,” and we find policies. The hasty disregard which birthed Who Cares Wins permeates every element of its essence. We go to the “media section”:

Watch this space.
Watch this space. This same message also makes up the entire “SAS Campaign” section.

Go to the “Army Museum Campaign,” and you realise that at some point during the election, Who Cares Wins straight up became the “Army Museum of Fremantle Party” as well, as part of a rich history between Who Cares Wins and the Fremantle Barracks. It seems that the biggest issue in 2001 for all ages was actually the sale of the Fremantle Army Museum. Let’s take a look at what they had going on:

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Fuck’s sake, Jim.