Australia

Federal Court orders removal of ‘misleading’ election posters in Higgins

The Federal Court in Melbourne has granted a court order to have election signs that Labor is calling misleading removed in the marginal Melbourne seat of Higgins.
The Australian Labor Party filed the urgent injunction application earlier on Saturday, alleging the signs were installed at polling booths in Higgins to confuse voters and mislead them into believing the signs were created by the Greens party.

Using the green and white colours of the Greens party, the words “put Labor last” were featured on the signs advising voters how to cast their ballot.

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The Australian Electoral Commission earlier on Saturday said it was in talks with the Australian Government Solicitor to join the application ordering the removal of the signs.
Justice Mark Moshinsky said he is granting the order to remove the signs, but this would need to be implemented by Australian Electoral Commission officials.
Justice Moshinsky said the removal of the signs would need to be handled appropriately to prevent disputes arising from people objecting to their removal.
He said he hoped a solicitor could explain the situation.

He also noted that there could be difficulties communicating the order to polling booths in time, with the hearing taking pace at 12 noon and polling booths closing at 6pm.

Allegation of electoral fraud

The Australian Labor Party described the posters as an “electoral fraud in breach of Commonwealth electoral law”.
The party said they believe the Liberal Party is behind the posters “impersonating the Australian Greens, and asking Greens voters to put Labor last”.

Liberal MP Katie Allen holds the seat of Higgins in Melbourne’s inner southeast suburbs on a margin of 2.6 per cent.

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Labor claims Ms Allen’s team put the signs up at a number of polling centres in the seat, which includes the suburbs of Prahran, South Yarra, Windsor, Toorak and parts of Glen Iris.
In a statement, Labor said Ms Allen’s staffers were observed putting up the “fraudulent materials”.

“The Katie Allen campaigners were observed unpacking their cars, having been supplied with a range of materials that promote Katie Allen, as well as the fraudulent corflutes,” it said in a statement.

Liberal Party says it was not involved

A Liberal Party spokesman said it had no involvement with the signs and the party is unaware of who is behind it.
The Australian Greens derided the signs as “fake Liberal signs”, urging voters to not “fall for the Libs’ desperate tricks”.
It said it has reported the case to the police and the AEC.

“LIES BUSTED: the Libs are trying to put up fake signs in Higgins. Already reported to AEC & police,” the Greens said in a post on Twitter, adding instructions on how to vote for the party and preference Labor over the Liberal Party.

At the 2019 federal election, misleading polling booth signs became the that threatened to overturn the results in the Victorian marginal seats of Kooyong and adjacent Chisholm that were won by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his colleague Gladys Liu.
The signs, which were written in Chinese and made to resemble the purple and white colours used in AEC materials, were installed by the Liberal Party in 13 polling booths in Kooyong and 29 booths in Chisholm.

Additional reporting: AAP

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