Election 2022: Lobby group signs about Zali Steggall, David Pocock found to breach election laws

Ashleigh GleesonNCA NewsWire
This sign is now in breach as it misleads voters into thinking David Pocock is part of the Greens. Facebook
Camera IconThis sign is now in breach as it misleads voters into thinking David Pocock is part of the Greens. Facebook Credit: NCA NewsWire

A conservative political lobby group has agreed to stop putting up signs that link two independent candidates to the Greens after being informed they are in breach of electoral laws.

The Australian Electoral Commission said that it believed signs authorised by Advance Australia were in breach of section 329 on the Electoral Act.

They depict Senate candidate for the ACT David Pocock and Warringah independent Zali Steggall pulling open their clothing, like Superman, to show a t-shirt featuring the logo of the Greens underneath.

The signage has appeared on trucks, including trucks parked near pre-poll voting centres.

It is an offence to put out material which is likely to mislead or deceive a voter.

David Pocock Advance Australia sign
Camera IconThis sign has now been deemed to breach electoral laws after initially being considered OK. Facebook Credit: NCA NewsWire

Because there’s been a breach, the AEC has the power to seek an injunction in the Federal Court against Advance Australia, now known as ADVANCE.

But the organisation has promised to give the election authority 48 hours’ notice if it wants to put up any more signs, to avoid legal proceedings.

ADVANCE executive director Matthew Sheahan said they were taking further advice on what he labelled a “backflip” by the AEC.

“Three weeks ago, at the beginning of the campaign, the AEC said publicly the ads were fine and now all of a sudden they’re not,” he said.

ADVANCE also made similar signs about Zali Steggall, who is an independent for Warringah.
Camera IconADVANCE also made similar signs about Zali Steggall, who is an independent for Warringah. Credit: Supplied

“We make no apology for edgy and disruptive campaigns, but we have an unbroken record of playing by the rules and accepting the umpire’s decision.

“This backflip by the AEC is astonishing, inconsistent and, in our view, plainly wrong.

“Although we’ve paused the campaign for now, we are taking further advice in relation to legal action against the AEC.”

Mr Pocock said he welcomed the decision by the AEC but he was disappointed it had taken three weeks.

“We first lodged a complaint with the AEC on April 26. More than 40,000 Canberrans have already voted at pre-poll and another 12,000 by postal,” he said.

“In response to this decision we have today written to the AEC requesting that Advance Australia be prosecuted for this flagrant breach of electoral law.”

Originally published as Election 2022: Lobby group signs about Zali Steggall, David Pocock found to breach election laws

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