Something for everyone: how niche parties are taking over Australia's political landscape

The future is being devised from a three-bedroom share house in Randwick with a view of Sydney Airport and the cranes at Botany Bay. Here sits the leader of the Future Party, plotting his policies as one of a slew of new political contenders. ''I see the potential to change the world for the better,'' James Jansson, 28, says, though it's not easy from his bedroom.

Fifty-three parties will contest this year's election, more than double the number of 2010. Joining the fray last week: Coke in the Bubblers, Australian Independents and the Smokers' Rights Party.

Magnifying sheets have been ordered for voting booths in NSW, Victoria and Queensland to help with bulging ballot papers. To the short-sighted or confused, we offer this potted guide to the new political parties for the 2013 federal election, whenever that might be.

IT workers will rule the world. The chieftains of the Animal Justice Party, Pirate Party Australia and the Smokers' Rights Party all work in information technology. The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party's chairman, Tony Standfield, 41, is an IT-support analyst. ''Maybe we're just bored,'' he says.

He is also president of the Queensland Torana Car Club, with an orange 1979 UC Torana. His party's three main policies? ''Improving the state of the nation's roads and aligning state requirements for modifications of vehicles.'' And the third? ''Um, um, what is it? Um, I need a bloody computer in front of me.''

There is no plan to expand the electoral roll. Despite this, Coke in the Bubblers promises to represent ''even those too young to vote, or not yet born''.

The Animal Justice Party's constituents include ''non-human animals''. ''Animals don't vote, and that's a problem,'' says the party's Victorian Senate candidate, Bruce Poon, 48. ''But if there is a donkey vote, we're after that.''

Yes, it's all in the name. Big names to back new political parties include Bob Katter, Nick Xenophon and billionaire blowhard Clive Palmer. Julian Assange has been detained from doorknocking for the WikiLeaks Party.

On the face of it, national interests are imperative for Australian Christians, Australian First Nations Political Party, the Australian Sports Party, the Australian Voice Party and Bullet Train for Australia. Unfortunately, Pirate Party Australia has nothing to do with the high seas and something to do with intellectual property. ''Everyone thinks we are the joke party,'' says spokesman Glen Takkenberg, 29.

Not every party has a catchy slogan. Bullet Train for Australia is considering: ''Train Good. Train Now.'' Future Party has settled on: ''Innovation, education and economic reform.'' The anti-Islam Rise Up Australia Party has: ''Keep Australia Australian!'' They even have a song, with two verses, rhyming ''accord'' with ''sword''.

The Smokers' Rights Party, which says the public health costs of smoking are ''greatly exaggerated'', is still working on a slogan. How about ''Government butt out''? ''That sounds good,'' says organiser Clinton Mead, 28. Or ''Stub 'em out''? Or ''Tar and feather them''? ''I liked your first one,'' he says.

There is no tax on big dreams. The Future Party wants to increase the intake of migrants and build them a high-rise city for 6 million people somewhere near Goulburn.

''There are lots of people who are attracted to high-density living,'' says Jansson, who is completing a PhD in mathematical modelling of HIV epidemiology. ''In Japan, for example, people don't even have their own bathrooms.''

The 21st Century Australia Party, which is awaiting registration, promises ''compassionate capitalism''. The Rise Up Australia Party promises an end to ethnic tension and death itself. President Daniel Nalliah, 48, a pastor with Catch the Fire Ministries, claims to have helped raise three people from the dead. ''Isn't it also a miracle that a Sri Lankan bloke is heading up a national political party in Australia?'' he says.

The new political parties take all comers. Animal Justice Party's Bruce Poon lives in a city apartment and doesn't have pets. Smokers' Rights Party organiser Clinton Mead doesn't smoke. ''I know a lot of smokers,'' he says. Some of his best friends are smokers. ''I'm not saying smoking is like slavery, but the people who wanted to free the slaves weren't slaves themselves,'' he says.

The current crop of politicians have a lot to answer for. Canberra's bloody soap opera has inspired many political contenders to enter the fray. ''It's time to hold them to account,'' says the 23 Million Party. No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics president Bill Koutalianos, 52, adds: ''If you don't take an interest in politics, you will be ruled by your inferiors.''

Disaffection with politics has seen a thousand flowers bloom. ''It's good for democracy to see all these ideas,'' says the Animal Justice Party's Poon. He loses points for punning: ''We're definitely the underdogs.''

Drummoyne's David Leyonhjelm, 61, is at the helm of two political parties: the Liberal Democratic Party and the new Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop the Greens). ''A lot of people are fed up with politics and politicians,'' he says. ''It would be a … cheap and quieter life if I was not driven by this feeling that I could make a difference.''

A sampler of the policies

Animal Justice Party
Ban the live-export trade.
End factory farming.
Stop native-animal culls.

Future Party
Increase education funding.
Increase investment in science and technology research.
Increase the migrant intake.

No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics Party
End ''green extremism''.
Reduce red and green tape.
Restore the integrity of science.

Bullet Train for Australia Party
Bullet train.
Bullet train.
Bullet train.

This story Something for everyone: how niche parties are taking over Australia's political landscape first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.