Candidate urges prosecution over ‘misleading’ Greens signs

by The New Daily

Live

ACT senate candidate David Pocock wants a conservative political lobby group prosecuted, after it was found to have breached electoral laws with signs depicting him and another independent as Greens.

The Australian Electoral Commission said on Monday it had ruled that signs authorised by Advance Australia showing Mr Pocock and the independent MP for Warringah, Zali Steggall wearing clothing showing the official logo of the Australian Greens breached the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

The signs have appeared on trucks and corflutes.

“It is an offence to publish, permit or authorise to be published during the relevant [election] period … any matter or thing that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote,” the commission said in a statement on Monday.

Advance Australia did not agree the signs breached electoral laws. But it has agreed, to avoid legal proceedings, that it won’t display them again without giving the AEC 48 hours’ notice.

zali steggall greens
Advance Australia’s sign featuring Zali Steggall has been found to have breached electoral laws. Photo: Supplied

But Mr Pocock, while welcoming the AEC’s decision, wants to go further.

“I am not, and have never been, a member of the Greens nor endorsed as their candidate,” he said.

“I am running as a community-endorsed independent candidate to represent all people in the ACT and give our community a voice on the issues that matter to us.”

Mr Pocock said his campaign had received hundreds of complaints about the misleading signs, and an official complaint was made on April 26. The AEC took three weeks to rule on the signs, with more than 50,000 ACT residents voting early or by post in the mean time.

“This behaviour from Advance Australia is corrosive for our democracy and underscores how critical it is that we have federal truth in political advertising laws, backed up by serious penalties, something I have been calling for over many years,” he said.

“It says a lot about my opponents that they are relying on false and misleading advertising to try and scare people instead of presenting their own ideas for the future of our great city.

“We have had enough.”

Mr Pocock said he had written to the AEC requesting that Advance Australia be prosecuted for its “flagrant breach” of Australia’s electoral laws.

-with AAP