File reference: Reg5204, 13/415
The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the application to register the Cheaper Petrol Party under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 should be refused.
Each application to enter a political party in the Register of Political Parties is assessed against the requirements in Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act).
On 15 May 2013 the AEC received an incomplete application from the Party. Following a request from the AEC, on 31 May 2013 the party submitted additional information to complete the application. On 21 June 2013, the AEC issued a notice under s.131 of the Electoral Act advising the Party that it had failed initial testing as too many electors had denied membership of the Party when contacted.
On 8 July 2013, the Party responded to the notice with a revised membership list.
Section 123 of the Electoral Act requires a non-Parliamentary party to have at least 500 members on the electoral roll before the party is eligible for registration.
To ascertain whether the submitted members are on the electoral roll, the membership list is first checked against a database of the electoral roll using automatic matching software. Manual matches are conducted by AEC staff to account for typographical and data errors such as minor misspelling in names or incorrectly formatted dates of birth.
AEC staff then contact a random sample of members to ensure that those members will confirm that they are members of the party applying for registration. The random sample is drawn from the membership list in accordance with advice from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The membership testing table can be found at Appendix 3 of the AEC’s Party Registration Guide.
The AEC’s test of the revised membership list indicated that 549 members could be identified on the electoral roll. AEC staff contacted a random sample of 50 members, but eight of these people denied being members of the Party. Five of the eight people remembered signing a petition for lower petrol prices, but were quite clear that they had not joined a political party and did not want to do so. The other three people had no idea where the Party had sourced their details from and did not remember having any contact with the Party.
The eight denials were too many for the AEC to be satisfied that the Party had the 500 enrolled members necessary to be eligible for registration.
The AEC attempted to contact 68 people from the Party’s membership list in the second two weeks of July 2013, before succeeding in contacting 50 people. On 5 August 2013 the writs for the 2013 federal election were issued before AEC staff had briefed a delegate of the AEC on the results of the second round of membership testing.
Section 127 of the Act prohibits any action being taken on an application for party registration in the period commencing on the day of the issue of a writ for a federal election and finishing on the day of the return of that writ. The Party was advised on 4 August 2013 about the delay caused by the issue of the writs. As soon as the last 2013 federal election writ was returned on 6 November 2013, AEC staff put this matter before a delegate of the AEC.
After failing a membership test, the Party provided an updated list of members. The AEC tested a random sample from the second membership list, but too many electors in the random sample denied being members of the Party for the AEC to be satisfied that the Party is eligible for registration.
Notice under section 132A(1)(b)
On 7 November 2013, as a delegate of the AEC, I refused the application for registration as a political party under the provisions of Part XI of the Electoral Act.
Delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission