Party registration decision: Brandon Raynor's Green Liberals

Updated: 4 January 2011

Refusal of application for party registration

File reference: Reg2267b, 2007/110

The delegate of the Electoral Commission determined that the application by Brandon Raynor's Green Liberals to be registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 should be refused.

Background

On 8 April 2004, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from Brandon Raynor's Green Liberals (the Party) for registration as a political party under the provisions of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act).

The application was advertised nationally on Wednesday 14 December 2005, to provide any person with the required opportunity to object to the registration of the Party. Six objections were received before the objection period closed.

The Party had been issued a notice under section 131 of the Electoral Act on 23 December 2004, advising it that the delegate of the AEC was of the opinion that the application would have to be refused unless the Party could vary the application by providing a better membership list to demonstrate that it had 500 members. In May 2005 the Party decided that the application should proceed without variation. Delays in the process were caused by the freezing of action on party registrations required by the 2004 federal election, the 2005 Werriwa by-election and from June to December 2006 by the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006.

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 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 at Attachment A.

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 (s.4);
  • be eligible for registration (s.123), that is have either at least 500 members eligible to be on the electoral roll, or a member who is a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, that have not been relied upon for registration by another political party;
  • make application for registration in the manner prescribed in s.126; and
  • propose a name and optional abbreviation for registration that is not prohibited by s.129.

Application of relevant legal provisions

Political Party

Subsection 4(1) of the Electoral Act defines a political party as an organisation that has the object or activity, or has as one of its objects or activities, of which is the promotion of the election to the Senate or to the House of Representatives, of a candidate or candidates endorsed by it.

The Party's constitution records one objective to be "to elect members to Federal and State Parliaments and local councils".

The Application

The application conforms to the technical requirements set out in section 126 of the Electoral Act.

The Membership

Section 123 of the Act requires a non-Parliamentary party to have at least 500 members (who are entitled to enrolment).

The criterion for membership including the payment of a membership fee is set out in the Party's constitution. The statutory declaration by the secretary states that each of the members on the list has been accepted as a member of the Party in accordance with the rules of the Party.

To test that a party has 500 members who are entitled to enrolment, the AEC:

  • removes from the list members under 17 years of age;
  • removes any duplicate memberships on the list;
  • removes people who have already been used by another party to establish its eligibility for registration; and
  • conducts a random test for fraudulent membership.

The test for fraudulent membership involves contacting a random sample of 20 people from the membership list by phone and by mail if necessary. Where more than one of the randomly selected people from the membership list cannot be confirmed as a member, then the membership test has been failed.

A membership check of a random sample of 20 members was undertaken in May 2004. Ten members confirmed their membership, four people denied they were members of the Party and six people did not respond either to phone contact by the AEC or letters written to them asking for confirmation of their membership. A second membership check from an amended list of members was conducted in August 2004 and of the 20 people contacted, eight said they were not members.

The Party was not able to satisfy the AEC that it had the necessary 500 members to be eligible.

Constitution

The Party's constitution contains the following matters relevant to registration:

  • an aim of promoting candidates for election to the Senate and House of Representatives;
  • a secretary without a defined role; and
  • membership criteria.

The Party's constitution satisfies the requirements of the Electoral Act.

Party name

Section 129 of the Electoral Act prohibits the registration of parties with certain names. This is called the names test. Two parts of the names test are relevant to this application. They are that a name is prohibited if:

  • it so nearly resembles that it is likely to be confused with or mistaken for, the name of an unrelated political party already registered at the federal level, or with an unrelated political party already registered at the state or territory level which has endorsed a candidate in a state or territory election in the previous five years; or
  • a reasonable person would think it suggests a connection or relationship between the party and a party registered at the federal level if that connection or relationship does not exist.

Because the proposed name and abbreviation contain important elements of the names of political parties already registered at federal and state level, the AEC sought legal advice on whether the provisions of section 129 would prohibit the name Brandon Raynor's Green Liberals or the abbreviation Green Liberals being registered.

The advice provided was that the operation of section 129(1)(da) would prohibit the registration of the name "Brandon Raynor's Green Liberals" or the abbreviation "Green Liberals" because it would be open to a reasonable person to think there is a connection or relationship between a party with that name and/or abbreviation and the Liberal Party of Australia when no such connection or relationship exists.

Conclusion

Brandon Raynor's Green Liberals failed to satisfy the delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission that it was an eligible political party under section 123 of the Electoral Act in that it did not demonstrate that it had 500 members and the Party's name and abbreviation are prohibited from registration.

The application for registration by Brandon Raynor's Green Liberals is refused.

Tim Pickering

First Assistant Commissioner

Electoral Operations

Delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission

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