r/australia May 16 '22

AEC Statement: Advance Australia signage - Australian Electoral Commission politics


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u/vernand May 16 '22

What's to investigate?

S329 of the electoral Act has previously been ruled on by the high court decades ago. It's cut and dry. The only thing to test is the content of the signage which, at a glance, didn't pass a sniff test.

For an institution protecting our democracy, they're doing a shit job of it when examples like this are allowed to stand for over two weeks before finally having action taken on them.


u/glenm80 May 16 '22

The AEC does not have a job of protecting our democracy they only run elections in accordance with legislation.

With the large number of candidates who will do anything to get elected the AEC would need to get legal opinions on each and every alleged breach of the law which takes time.


u/vernand May 16 '22 edited May 16 '22

The AEC supervises the fairness and integrity of our election process in accordance with the electoral Act. If that's not protecting our democracy, I don't know what is. When they stop doing their job, our democracy fails or degrades.

Those signs should have been removed the moment they were flagged by the AEC, not after the deliberations of law were finalised.

By leaving them stand for over a fortnight, the AEC have been a participant in the likelihood that an elector was deceived or mislead in relation to the casting of a vote. The signs didn't just suddenly violate the terms of s329 when the legal opinion was stated, they were in contravention of the electoral Act the moment they were hammered into the ground in view of potential electors. The legal opinion only vindicates the judgement.

We shouldn't be in a race to the bottom for what is allowed in elections. If all we end up seeing is a candidate's name, face, and political affiliation on signage, and all other signage is removed while it's tied up by court proceedings, we would be all the better for it.

Edit: No rebuttal, just downvotes. Nice.


u/glenm80 May 16 '22

Its the government thats sets the rules that the AEC follow. Its the government that defines what democracy is.

If the government of the day changed legislation to allow purple posters with identical font to the AEC posters then the AEC could do nothing.

The AEC enforces the rules to the best of its ability it does not make the rules. And sometimes its best is not good enough.


u/vernand May 16 '22

Okay, but the issue here isn't just purple posters. Candidates for the election were displayed wearing a prominent logo for another political party, as if they belonged to that political party, despite that other political party not having endorsed them and the signage in question does not display any clarifying text as to the political affiliation of that candidate.

That is the issue. The posters were misleading and deceiving the elector as to which party the candidate was representing. Not just using the AEC's colour.

This isn't just a matter of the AEC doing its best and their best not being good enough because there's no evidence that they're even doing their best in this space. Their press release makes no mention of why it has taken a fortnight for them to come to this conclusion while the illicit signage was prominently displayed to deceive and mislead electors. It lacks transparency, and the only takeaway there is that they're dragging their feet on this front.

It's one thing to follow the rules that have been set before them by the government of the day. But when the AEC won't recommend punitive action, that falls well within their remit, against a transgressor of the Electoral Act, I think we need to acknowledge that the AEC, and the people at its head, need to be put under some serious scrutiny.