Offences

Misleading Information

It is an offence to print, publish or distribute material which misleads electors in the proper method of casting a vote (eg directing that 2 candidates each be given a first preference vote) or to encourage an elector to vote using a tick or a cross. Any directions for voting printed on any material must be consistent with the requirements for a formal vote as printed on the ballot paper.

These provisions do not extend to the truth or otherwise of statements seeking to influence electors in deciding for which candidate or party they should vote. The ‘casting of their vote’ refers to the act of voting itself (ie marking a ballot paper) not the political judgements that motivate the decision as to who to vote for.

It is an offence for candidates and parties to print, publish or distribute electoral advertising material which uses the name, abbreviation, derivative or acronym of the name of a registered political party in a way which may mislead an elector.

A candidate is not permitted to distribute election advertising material marked with the printed logo of a registered political party in a fashion which could lead electors to think the candidate was endorsed by that party when this is not the case.

It is an offence to use the word ‘Independent’ and the name, abbreviation, derivative or acronym of a registered political party in a way that suggests or indicates an affiliation with that registered political party. For example, independent candidates cannot describe themselves as ‘Independent Liberal’ or ‘Independent Labor’.

Canvassing for Votes

A person must not canvass for votes in a pre-poll voting office (canvassing includes distributing electoral material). It is also an offence to canvass for votes using a loud speaker, amplifier or similar broadcasting device that can be heard within a pre-poll voting office.

Similarly, on election day, it is an offence to canvass for votes within a polling place or within 6 metres of the entrance to a polling place or to use a loud speaker, amplifier or similar broadcasting device that can be heard within a polling place or within 6 metres of the entrance to a polling place.

Electronic media 'blackout'

Under Schedule 2 of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Services Act 1992, which is administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, election advertising in the electronic media is subject to a 'blackout' from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the end of polling on the Saturday. This 3 day blackout effectively provides a 'cooling off' period in the lead up to polling day, during which political parties, candidates and others are no longer able to purchase time on television and radio to broadcast political advertising.