ACT Party Advertising- S 221 of the Electoral Act
Chief Electoral Office
Ministry of Justice
Statement by Chief Electoral Officer, Ministry of Justice.
11am 12 August 2005
ACT Party Advertising- Section 221 of the Electoral Act 1993
I have reviewed advertising being conducted by the ACT Party after a complaint by the National Party that the advertising breaches the Electoral Act 1993.
The advertising is at 9 sites across the country and comprises at each site a single advertisement divided into two sections - the first section promotes the election of candidates of the National Party and the second section encourages voters to give their party vote to the ACT Party.
The second section of the advertisement contains the statement, as required by section 221 of the Electoral Act, that it is authorised by the Secretary of the ACT Party. The first section carries no authorisation statement from the National Party or its candidates. I am advised by the National Party that the first section has not been authorised by the party or its candidates.
I have advised the ACT Party that the advertising is an illegal practice in terms of section 221. I consider therefore that an offence has been committed which on conviction by the Courts may result in a fine of up to $3000.
The ACT party has given an undertaking that it will arrange this morning to cover that part of the advertising that refers to the National Party. Since that action remedies the breach for the future I have decided to halt action to refer the matter to the Police. This decision is not to be taken as a precedent by the ACT Party should there be future breaches of the Electoral Act.
I have repeated to the administration of the ACT Party my general invitation to all political parties that, whilst parties need to take their own legal advice, the Chief Electoral Office is always willing to discuss on a confidential basis interpretations of the Electoral Act in relation to proposed actions. Had the ACT Party discussed the issue with my office before erecting the advertising this situation may have been avoided.
Chief Electoral Officer
12 August 2005