Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

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A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to provide for truth in political advertising, and for related purposes
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Introduced Senate 10 Oct 2000

Electoral Amendment (Political Honesty) Bill 2000 [2002]
First Reading

1998-1999-2000

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

THE SENATE

Presented and read a first time

Electoral Amendment (Political Honesty) Bill 2000

No. , 2000

(Senator Murray)

A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to provide for truth in political advertising, and for related purposes

Contents

1       Short title 1

2       Commencement 1

3       Schedule(s) 2

Schedule 1--Truth in political advertising       3

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918       3

A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to provide for truth in political advertising, and for related purposes

The Parliament of Australia enacts:

1 Short title
        This Act may be cited as the Electoral Amendment (Political Honesty) Act 2000.

2 Commencement
        This Act commences on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

3 Schedule(s)
        Each Act that is specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.

Schedule 1--Truth in political advertising
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

1 After subsection 329(1)

Insert:

       (1A) A person must not print, publish or distribute, or cause, permit or authorise to be printed, published or distributed, any electoral advertisement containing a statement, purporting to be a statement of fact, that is inaccurate or misleading to a material extent.

2 Subsection 329(4)

After "subsection (1)", insert "or (1A)".

3 Paragraph 329(4)(a)

Omit "$1,000", substitute "$5,000".

4 Paragraph 329(4)(b)

Omit "$5,000", substitute "$50,000".

5 Subsection 329(5)

Repeal the subsection, substitute:

       (5) In a prosecution of a person for an offence against subsection (4) by virtue of a contravention of subsection (1) or (1A), it is a defence if the person proves that he or she:

       (a) took no part in determining the content of the matter, thing or advertisement; and

       (b) could not reasonably be expected to have known that the matter, thing or advertisement was inaccurate or misleading or likely to mislead an elector in relation to the casting of a vote.

6 After subsection 329(5)

Insert:

       (5A) If the Electoral Commissioner is satisfied that an electoral advertisement contains a statement purporting to be a statement of fact that is inaccurate or misleading to a material extent, the Electoral Commissioner may request the advertiser to do one or more of the following:

       (a) withdraw the advertisement from further publication;

       (b) publish a retraction in specified terms and a specified manner and form (and in proceedings for an offence against subsection (2) arising from the advertisement, the advertiser's response to a request under this subsection will be taken into account in assessing any penalty to which the advertiser may be liable).

       (5B) If the Federal Court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on application by the Electoral Commissioner that an electoral advertisement contains a statement purporting to be a statement of fact that is inaccurate or misleading to a material extent, the Court may order the advertiser to do one or more of the following:

       (a) withdraw the advertisement from further publication;

       (b) publish a retraction in specified terms and a specified manner and form.

7 After section 329

Insert:

329A Heading to electoral advertisements
       (1) Where electoral matter is to be inserted in a newspaper, the proprietor of the newspaper must cause the word "advertisement" to be printed as a headline in letters not smaller than 10 point or long primer to each article or paragraph containing the electoral matter.

       (2) A person who fails to comply with subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.

Maximum penalty:

       (a) for a natural person--$1,000; or

       (b) for a body corporate--$5,000.

       (3) This section applies only in respect of electoral matter for the publication of which payment or other consideration has been, or is to be, given.