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 27 Mar 2003

Electoral Amendment (Political Honesty) Bill 2003
First Reading

Electoral Amendment (Political Honesty) Bill 2003
First Reading

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2002-2003

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

THE SENATE

Presented and read a first time

Electoral Amendment (Political Honesty) Bill 2003

No. , 2003

(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

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 2003.

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        Each Act that is specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.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 Subsection 329(6)

Repeal the subsection.

2 At the end of section 329

Add:

       (7) 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 and misleading to a material extent.

       (8) A person who contravenes subsection (7) is guilty of an offence punishable on conviction:

       (a) if the offender is a natural person--by a fine not exceeding 2000 penalty units; or

       (b) if the offender is a body corporate--by a fine not exceeding 10,000 penalty units.

       (9) In a prosecution of a person for an offence against subsection (8) by virtue of a contravention of subsection (7), it is a defence if the person proves that he or she:

       (a) took no part in determining the content of the advertisement; and

       (b) could not reasonably be expected to have known that the advertisement was inaccurate and misleading to a material extent.

       (9) If the Electoral Commissioner is satisfied that an electoral advertisement contains a statement purporting to be a statement of fact that is inaccurate and 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 (8) 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).

       (10) 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.

       (11) In this section:

advertiser means a person who authorises, causes or permits the publication of an electoral advertisement but does not include a person who took no part in determining the content of the electoral advertisement.

electoral advertisement means an advertisement containing a matter calculated to affect the result of an election.

publish includes publish by       radio, television or the Internet.

       (12) This section does not apply to the extent (if any) that would infringe any doctrine of implied freedom of political communication.