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Bundeena Public School Signage
Thursday, 01 October 2009
Bundeena Public School Signage
Government signage at schools across the country like the one at Bundeena Public School has come under scrutiny by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Legitimate Government notice or political advertising?

Bundeena Public School Signage Closeup

What the AEC thinks:

National Building – Economic Stimulus Plan school signage

7 September 2009

The AEC has examined the signs for the “Nation Building – Economic Stimulus Plan” and formed the view that they are in breach of the requirements of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act).

As was indicated in the media release issued by the Special Minister of State on 3 September 2009, the AEC has advised the Government that it is of the view that the present signs include “electoral matter” and the absence of the authorisation details on the signs gives rise to the breach of section 328 of the Electoral Act. Section 328 of the Electoral Act depends on the particular facts to determine whether an advertisement contains “electoral matter”. This is not a simple issue to resolve, as the scope of “electoral matter” can change over time.

The AEC is also of the view that there is no current breach of paragraph 340(1)(e) of the Electoral Act in relation to election signs appearing within “6 metres of the entrance to a polling booth”. This is because the prohibition only applies on the actual day of polling in a federal election and that placing the signs on school fences does not result in those signs being within 6 metres of the entrance to a polling booth.

The AEC will be reviewing two of its “Electoral Backgrounder” publications to provide more detailed guidance on this matter and is providing input into the review of the Commonwealth’s authorisation policy that the Department of Finance and Deregulation is now undertaking.

The AEC considers that the measures announced by the Special Minister of State will address the issues raised about the signs and remove the risk of non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

The AEC notes that there is a lack of full clarity in relation to the operation of electoral advertising laws and this has been previously raised in its submissions to the federal parliamentary Joint Standing Committee into Electoral Matters. 

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