Application for registration approved – Katter's Australian Party

Updated: 27 September 2011

File reference: 11/645-2, Reg4336

The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that Katter's Australian Party should be registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

Background

A list of the tests applied to each application for party registration is available.

On 18 August 2011, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from Katter's Australian Party (the Party) for registration as a federal political party under the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act).

Relevant legal provisions

Political parties may apply for registration for the purposes of federal elections in accordance with the requirements of Part XI of the Electoral Act. The Act requires the AEC to maintain a publicly available 'Register of Political Parties'. The Register is available on the AEC's website.

The provisions specifically relevant for the current application under consideration are sections 4, 123, 124, 126, 129, 132, 132A and 133 of the Electoral Act. An extract of the relevant provisions is available adjacent to this document on the AEC website.

In relation to this Party, the relevant provisions require it to:

  • be an organisation with an aim of promoting candidates it endorses for election to the House of Representatives and/or the Senate (s4);
  • be eligible for registration (s123), that is have at least one member who is a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth that has not been relied upon for registration by another political party and be established on the basis of a written constitution;
  • make application for registration in the manner prescribed in s126; and
  • propose a name and optional abbreviation for registration that are not prohibited by s129.

Application of relevant legal provisions

Political party

The party is established on the basis of a written constitution, which sets up an organisation with established principles and sets out its objectives. One of its objectives includes endorsing candidates to contest Senate and House of Representatives elections.

The party has its own phone number, as well as a physical address, postal address and an active website. The AEC was unable to assess its ongoing financial activity because the party has only recently been established.

FAD assessed the party as meeting the test of being a political party under s4 of Electoral Act.

FAD assessed the application against the technical requirements in s126(2) of the Electoral Act as listed above. The application meets the technical requirements in s126(2).

Secretary

The role of party secretary is clearly described and meets the requirements of s123 of the Electoral Act.

Membership

Section 123 of the Electoral Act requires a parliamentary party to have at least one member who is a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The statutory declaration by the secretary states that the Honourable Mr Robert (Bob) Katter MP has been accepted as a member of the Party in accordance with the rules of the Party. Furthermore, a letter from Mr Katter, on his parliamentary stationery accompanied the application in which he confirmed his membership of Katter's Australian Party. Mr Katter is currently the sitting member for Kennedy, and as such is a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth as required by s123.

Constitution

The party provided a detailed constitution with its application. The party's constitution states the endorsement of candidates at a federal election as one of its objectives and includes significant detail in relation to the structure of the party. It also discusses the terms and conditions of membership of the party in detail.

The constitution defines the positions of the executive committee including the role of the secretary in a manner consistent with the provisions of s123 of the Electoral Act.

Party name

Section 129 prohibits the registration of parties with certain names. Specifically, the name shall not be approved if any of the following conditions are met. That it:

  • is more than six words;
  • is perceived to be obscene;
  • is the name, abbreviation, or acronym of the name of another political party (not being a political party that is related to the applicant party) that is a recognised political party;
  • so nearly resembles the name, abbreviation, or acronym of the name of another recognised political party (not being a political party that is related to the applicant party) that it is likely to be confused with that other recognised political party;
  • is one that a reasonable person would think suggests a connection or relationship with another registered political party, if that relationship does not exist;
  • is comprised of the words 'Independent Party';
  • is comprised of, or contains, the word 'Independent', and the name, abbreviation or acronym of a recognised political party; or
  • is comprised of, or contains, the word 'Independent' and matter, that so nearly resembles the name, or an abbreviation or acronym of the name of a recognised political party, that the matter is likely to be confused with, or mistaken for, that recognised political party.

The name sought is Katter's Australian Party and no abbreviation is requested.

Objections

On 18 August 2011 the delegate determined that the party had passed its initial consideration for party registration and the application was advertised for public objection on 24 August 2011.

On 21 September 2011 an objection was received from Mr Ken Hunter outlining grounds on which he believed the application for registration should be refused. Only one of the grounds raised by Mr Hunter is a valid ground for objection under the Electoral Act. The ground that Mr Hunter raised which can be considered concerns the names test in s. 129. Mr Hunter argued that 'Katter's Australian Party' could easily be mistaken or confused for a number of already registered parties that use the word 'Australian' in their name.

No other objections were received before the deadline of 26 September 2011.

Analysis of objection

Mr Hunter suggests that the existence of the word 'Australian' in the proposed name raises the possibility of confusion with a number of other party names which use the word 'Australian' in their names.

Mr Hunter is correct in that there are already a number of parties on the register that use the word 'Australian' in their name. However, all of them can be clearly identified from one another by the other distinguishing words in their name in conjunction with the word 'Australian'. In this particular instance, the use of the word 'Katter's' provides more than enough additional information to allow an elector to distinguish it from other parties that also use the word 'Australian' in their name.

Conclusion

The AEC is of the view that the proposed name is not prohibited by s. 129 of the Electoral Act.

The AEC assessed the application by the Party as meeting the requirements of the Electoral Act. One written objection was received, but the AEC did not consider that the Party's proposed name was prohibited by s. 129 of the Electoral Act.

The AEC registered Katter's Australian Party.

27 September 2011