File reference: Reg4424, 11/1023
The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the Australian Christians should be registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.
On 13 October 2011, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from the Australian Christians (the Party) to be registered as a political party under the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act).
The AEC conducted a series of tests usually undertaken as part of the initial consideration of an application and, on 3 November 2011, the delegate of the AEC found no reason to refuse the Australian Christian's application and approved the advertisement of the Party's application for public input. The application was advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette and 10 newspapers achieving coverage throughout Australia on 9 November 2011 as required by s.132 of the Electoral Act. A period of one month was provided from that date for any person or organisation to lodge reasons why the Party should not be registered.
Three responses to the advertisement were received by 9 December 2011, but only one was a formal objection made on a ground that may be considered under the Electoral Act.
The argument put forward was that the name Australian Christians is too generic and likely to be confused with or mistaken for the Christian Democratic Party. Both the words in the proposed name, Australian and Christians, are generic names used or likely to be used in other party names. While the Christian Democratic Party uses the word 'Democratic' as a descriptor to distinguish the generic word 'Christian', the word Australian as proposed by the Australian Christians is too generic itself to be a suitable descriptor. Were the new party to be proposing a name like the 'Christian Socialist Party', there would be no objection because that would be a sufficient distinction.
The objector relied on the reasons published by the AEC in previously refusing the abbreviation 'The Australian Party' as being too generic and likely to be confused with other parties with 'Australian' in their name or abbreviation, particularly if those parties did not stand candidates on the same ballot paper.
Published decisions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, reviewing AEC decisions on party names, have established that if party names are visually and aurally distinguishable the proposed name should not be refused. See Woollard and the Australian Electoral Commission  AATA 166 (6 March 2001); The Fishing Party and the Australian Electoral Commission  AATA 170 (17 March 2009).
The name Australian Christians is clearly distinguishable from any other party with the word Australian in its name as none of those also use the word Christian. The name Christian Democratic Party is sufficiently distinguishable from the Australian Christians because one uses the word Democratic in both its registered name and abbreviation. While the name Australian Christians uses only the generic word Australian to complement the word Christians, the combination of the two words results in a name that is not similar to any other registered party name or abbreviation. The delegate of the AEC concluded that the proposed name is clearly visually and aurally distinguishable from the name or abbreviation of any other registered party and that the name 'Australian Christians' is therefore permitted under s.129 of the Electoral Act.
The AEC registered the Australian Christians.
15 December 2011