Application for registration approved – Rise Up Australia Party

Updated: 9 February 2012

File reference: Reg4465, 11/1077-2

The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the Rise Up Australia 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 4 November 2011, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from the Rise Up Australia Party (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 23 November 2011, the delegate of the AEC found that the Rise Up Australia Party's application complied with the eligibility requirements contained in the Electoral Act and proceeded to advertise the Party's application seeking public input prior to a decision being made. The application was advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette and 10 newspapers achieving coverage throughout Australia on 30 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.

Consideration

One response to the advertisement was received within the required timeframe and it was made on grounds that may be considered under the Electoral Act.

The objection received raised a large number of issues. However, only 2 of the issues raised were relevant to applying the statutory tests for registration under the Electoral Act. They were:

  1. That the Party does not have 500 members and is therefore not an 'eligible political party'; and
    1. The objector alleged that he had been unlawfully removed as Director and Secretary of the Party. Therefore, he claimed, board meetings held after his unlawful removal at which new members were accepted, were not valid board meetings and the members not validly accepted.
    2. The objector also alleged that the membership forms used by the party to recruit members had changed a number of times, and that the changes to the forms had not been in accordance with the Party Constitution.
  2. The objector claims to be the Secretary of the Party and therefore the application made by the Party for registration is invalid because his signature is not one of the ten in the application.

Findings on material questions of fact

  1. That the objection only raised 2 grounds for objection which can be considered under the Electoral Act.
  2. That the Party is an 'eligible political party' within the meaning of s.123(1)(a)(ii).
  3. That the person that signed the application for registration is the Secretary of the Party.

Evidence on which the findings are based

In making the above findings of fact the delegate relied on the following:

  • The application for registration made by the Party in its entirety, including all its attachments;
  • The objection lodged in its entirety, including all its attachments;
  • The Party's response to the objection, including all its attachments; and
  • Company details of the Party held by ASIC.

Reasons

The objection contained a large amount of information, evidence, attachments and raised a number of issues that are outside the Electoral Act. AEC staff spent considerable time reviewing the application but could only find two issues raised by the objector which were made on grounds that were relevant to the exercise of powers under the Electoral Act.

The objection on the ground that the Party does not have 500 members' centres around the objectors claim to still be the Secretary of the Party. He asserts that his removal as Secretary was invalid and that subsequent board meetings which he did not attend could not have been validly convened. Therefore, the board could not have accepted any new members in accordance with the Party Constitution. To support this claim, the objector has provided a copy of correspondence sent by his solicitor to the other board members outlining their belief that the board had not removed the objector as Secretary and Director in accordance with the Party Constitution.

In the Party's response to this claim, they reject the version of events given by the objector. The Party supplied a copy of minutes of the meeting at which the board removed the objector by resolution. This action occurred in accordance with the constitution of the Party that was lodged with the AEC. The party also lodged a statutory declaration along with the original application for registration signed by the Party Secretary. The statutory declaration indicated that the members in the annexed membership list had been accepted in accordance with the Party Constitution.

The AEC is of the view that, in accordance with the Party Constitution, the board had the power to revoke the objector's appointment as Secretary at any time by resolution. The AEC makes no comment on the legality of the objector's removal as a Director of the company. It is sufficient that the Party Constitution clearly sets out that the Company Secretary is also the Party Secretary and it is the position of Party Secretary that is relevant for the purposes of the Electoral Act. The Party Constitution makes it clear that all members must be accepted by resolution of the board. The Party Constitution also makes it clear that the board may meet as they see fit. Accordingly, there does not appear to be any constitutional impediment to the rest of the board of the Party meeting and accepting members.

The allegation that the Party did not follow the Party Constitution in changing its membership forms was not supported with any evidence. Given that the Party Secretary has sworn a statutory declaration that all members were accepted in accordance with the Party Constitution, the unsubstantiated allegation was refuted by sworn evidence in support of the Party's version of events. Without corroborated evidence that any such changes happened in an unconstitutional way, the AEC formed the view that in weighing up the conflicting evidence the sworn evidence provided by the Party was to be preferred. The AEC accepts that the Party has the required number of members and is therefore an 'eligible political party'.

The second valid ground of objection has, for the most part, already been dealt with above. In short, the objector contends that the application for registration is invalid because he believes he is still the Secretary of the Party and his signature is not one of the ten in the application.

In addition to the discussion above, the AEC has examined the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's (ASIC) records. ASIC's records clearly show that the objector is not the Company Secretary. The Party Constitution gives the board the power to change the Secretary by resolution. The Party has supplied minutes of a board meeting where that power was exercised to remove the objector from the position of Secretary. The AEC accepts ASIC's records and the evidence of the Party that the objector is no longer the Secretary of the Company and therefore according to the Party Constitution cannot be the Party Secretary. The application for registration made by the Party bears the signature of the new Party Secretary as per s.126 of the Electoral Act. The AEC rejects the objection on the ground that the application was not properly made.

Conclusion

The AEC registered the Rise Up Australia Party.

3 February 2012