Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

The Labor Party says it has gone to the Federal Court to seek an injunction over what it has labeled misleading signs in the key knife-edge seat of Higgins.

In a letter to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), Labor says members of its campaign team witnessed people they believed to be on the Liberal campaign team installing green signs saying “Put Labor last” at polling booths in Higgins.

The ALP said the posters had also been put up in the electorates of McEwen and Hawke, both on Melbourne’s peri-urban fringe.

In a Twitter post, the Greens called the signs “desperate tricks”.

The signs state they are authorized by a Hendrick Fourey of the Business Owners and Contractors Union.

The union’s website says the group was formed in 2019 and “brings together and represents small / medium business owners and contractors”.

Labor said it was seeking an injunction from the Federal Court to remove the signs.

Member for Higgins Katie Allen denied any knowledge of the signs, while the Victorian Liberal Party said it did not authorize the election materials.

The AEC confirmed with the ABC it had received a complaint about the signs and was reviewing the matter.

The commission said it lacked the legal means to immediately remove the material without an injunction.

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Albanese starts election day in the seat of Higgins.

The electorate of Higgins was held by Liberal Katie Allen on a margin of 2.6 per cent after the 2019 poll.

The seat in Melbourne’s inner south-east has been held by the Liberal Party since its creation in 1949 and has been held by two former prime ministers – John Gorton and Harold Holt.

Traditionally a safe Liberal seat, Higgins – like many inner-city electorates in Melbourne – has experienced a rise in support for the Greens in recent years.

Dr. Allen is being challenged by Labor candidate Michelle Ananda-Rajah, a doctor, and Greens candidate Sonya Semmens, who works in the non-profit sector.

Liberal Party lodges complaint over Chinese-language signs

The Liberal Party has lodged its own separate complaint to the AEC over signage in the Melbourne seat of Kooyong.

The complaint states that how-to-vote cards and corflutes for independent candidate Monique Ryan are written in Chinese, but are authorized solely in English.

If election material is written in another language, AEC requirements dictate that authorization must be notified in both English and the language used.

The AEC told the ABC it was aware of the authorizations and understood that rectification was underway to have the full, appropriate authorization statement on the products.

A spokesperson for Dr Ryan denied the allegations and said authorization requirements on all election material had been met.

“All Chinese election campaign material used by Dr. Ryan’s campaign, including How to Vote cards, are properly authorized in the correct languages,” the spokesperson said.

An election sign for Monique Ryan in chinese
Chinese-language corflutes in the seat of Kooyong are authorized by Monique Ryan solely in English.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

The seat of Kooyong is set to be hotly contested, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg facing down a challenge from Dr Ryan.

Dr Ryan is one of 23 “teal” independents running under the banner of the Climate 200 group, funded by activist billionaire Simon Holmes à Court.

The election campaign has been marked by breaches of the Commonwealth’s electoral act.

Signs authorized by conservative lobby group Advance Australia falsely depicted independent candidates David Pocock and Zali Steggall as members of the Greens.

In 2019, a senior Victorian Liberal Party figure admitted in court that Chinese-language signs used in two Melbourne seats were designed to convey the appearance of official AEC material.

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