Australia

Independent Monique Ryan rejects Liberal Party claims on Chinese-language election material

The contest for votes in the marginal Melbourne seat of Kooyong is narrowing with the Liberal Party contacting the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) with a complaint over election material produced as part of independent candidate Monique Ryan’s campaign.
The how-to-vote cards were distributed in the Liberal marginal seat of Kooyong to reach the large proportion of voters of Chinese ancestry.

The most spoken languages other than English in Kooyong by residents is Mandarin (8.6 per cent) and Cantonese (3.2 per cent) – a level that is 1.5 times higher than the national figure, according to Census data.

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg holds the seat of Kooyong in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs on a margin of 6.4 per cent.
At the 2019 election, the election posters produced in Chinese by the Liberal Party were the .
At this election, the Victorian Liberal Party has contacted the AEC demanding Ms Ryan’s Chinese-language how-to-vote cards and other election material be removed for failing to be “properly authorised in the correct languages”.
The party alleges Ms Ryan’s materials are “in breach of the Commonwealth Electoral legislation”.
A spokesperson for Ms Ryan’s campaign rejected the claims, saying the materials have been authorised in the Chinese language.
“All Chinese election campaign material used by Dr Rayn’s campaign, including How to Vote cards, are properly authorised in the correct languages,” the spokesperson said.

“Just to repeat, the Liberal Party claim is a false allegation.”

Tight contest

Ms Ryan said she believes the election result for who wins Kooyong could come down to 500 votes.
“No, I wouldn’t say I was confident. I do think it will be super close. I don’t know when we get a result; or what that result will be,” she said.
“I do know that – to the extent that Kooyong and other electorates as well have come together in my campaign – [it] means Kooyong can never be taken for granted again.”

Former prime minister John Howard also campaigned in Kooyong to bolster Mr Frydenberg’s position and engage with voters.

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“I’ve been really encouraged by the positive reaction I’ve had on prepoll the last couple of weeks, as well as meeting with constituents this morning,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News, dismissing polling that indicated he is at risk of losing his seat.
A paediatric neurologist, Ms Ryan is among the group of so-called teal independents who are campaigning on issues of climate change and a federal anti-corruption watchdog – funded by millionaire investor Simon Holmes à Court’s Climate 200 funding vehicle.
She said if she is in a position to negotiate in the potential event of a hung parliament, she would work with both major parties and all MPs across the political spectrum to deliver on the policies of her campaign.

“I am happy to work with everyone. I am a very pragmatic and effective person. I am not guided by own political ambitions; and I am not limited in the decisions can make. I can represent the people of Kooyong and what they want.”

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

It comes as the Federal Court in Melbourne 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 if any disputes arose while the campaign material was being removed.

He also noted that there could be difficulties communicating the order to polling booths in time, with the hearing taking place 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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