Party registration decision: Citizens Electoral Council

Updated: 4 January 2011

Party re-entered in the Register of Political Parties

File reference:07/862 – Reg2491a

The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the application by the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia to be re-registered as a political party under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 should be accepted and the Party re-entered in the Register of Political Parties.

Background

On 11 May 2007, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia (the Party) for re-registration as a political party under the provisions of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act). The Party was one of the political parties de-registered on 27 December 2006 under the provisions of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006.

On 10 July 2007, the delegate of the AEC completed the initial consideration of the Party's application and issued a notice under section 131 of the Electoral Act requiring: evidence that the Party is related to state registered parties of the same name; clarification of the Party office which matches the definition of 'secretary' in the Electoral Act; and the inclusion of dates of birth in the electronic membership list.

On 18 July 2007, the AEC received a response to the section 131 notice.

The Party's application was advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette and in major newspapers circulating in the various states and territories on Wednesday 1 August 2007.

No objections were received.

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 Electoral 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 available adjacent to this notice on this 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;
  • have either at least 500 members eligible to be on the electoral roll;
  • make an application for registration in the manner prescribed in section 126; and
  • propose a name and optional abbreviation for registration that is not prohibited by section 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 of, or has as one of its objects or activities, the promotion of the election to the Senate or to the House of Representatives, of a candidate or candidates endorsed by it.

The delegate determined that the Party is an organisation on the basis of the Party's previous registration with the AEC and the annual returns it has been lodging disclosing its financial activity. The Party's constitution records an objective to 'select, train and assist the election to all levels of Government, candidates who shall be truly representative of the philosophy of CEC Australia and its fighting platform'.

The Party is accepted as a political party as defined in section 4 of the Electoral Act.

Application

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

Secretary

Section 123 of the Electoral Act defines a party secretary as the person who holds the office that is responsible for carrying out the administration and the conduct of correspondence for the party.

The Party's constitution identifies at item 13(a) a Management Committee of a minimum of three members: chairman; secretary; and treasurer. At item 15(a), the secretary has the duty of calling meetings of the Management Committee, however no fuller description of the duties of the secretary appears.

An examination of the correspondence of the Party over a number of years reveals that the person who best fits the description of 'secretary' in the Electoral Act is the secretary.

The Party passes the test of having a secretary as defined in the Electoral Act.

Membership

Section 123 of the Electoral 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; and 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 random sample check of 20 members was completed in July 2007. Nineteen members confirmed their membership and one person failed to respond to telephone calls and a letter from the AEC. A check against all available membership lists was conducted, and of the 542 members provided by the Party, no duplicates were found.

The Party satisfied the delegate that it had the required 500 members.

Constitution

The Party has a constitution that was provided with its application. The constitution contains the following matters relevant to registration:

  • a clear aim of promoting candidates for election to all levels of government;
  • identification of the role of secretary; and
  • detailed membership criteria.

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

Party name

Section 129 prohibits the registration of parties with certain names. A party cannot be registered if its name or abbreviation is:

  • longer than six words;
  • perceived to be obscene;
  • 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 resembling 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;
  • one that a reasonable person would think, suggests a connection or relationship with another registered political party, if that relationship does not exist;
  • comprised of the words 'Independent Party';
  • comprised of, or contains, the word 'Independent', and the name, abbreviation or acronym of a recognised political party; or
  • 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.

There are two other recognised political parties with the name Citizens Electoral Council:

  • the Citizens Electoral Council (Victorian Division) registered in Victoria; and
  • the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia registered in Western Australia.

The Party was asked to produce evidence that it is related to these parties.

The Party provided copies of the constitutions of the two state registered parties and those constitution showed that the state registered parties were established under section 14(d) of the Party's constitution providing for the creation of state divisions.

The Party, therefore, passes the names test in section 129 of the Electoral Act.

Objections

No objections were received.

Conclusion

The Citizens Electoral Council of Australia has been re-registered.

Paul Dacey
Deputy Electoral Commissioner
Delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission
4 September 2007

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