Party registration decision: Liberty and Democracy Party

Updated: 4 January 2011

Party entered in the Register of Political Parties

File reference: Reg2497, 07/384

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

Background

On 22 February 2007, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from the Liberty and Democracy Party (the Party) for registration as a political party under the provisions of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act).

On 28 May 2007, the delegate of the AEC determined the initial consideration of the Party's application and on 8 June, the Party was issued a section 131 notice advising it that the delegate may be required to refuse the application on the basis that the name 'Liberal Democratic Party' was likely to breach section 129 of the Electoral Act.

On 24 July 2007, the Party formally responded amending its application so that the name of the Party is the 'Liberty and Democracy Party' and the abbreviation is 'LDP'.

On 31 July 2007, the delegate accepted the Party's response to the section 131 notice and approved the advertising of the Party's application.

The Party's application was advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette and in 10 newspapers circulating in the various states and territories on Wednesday 1 August 2007. One written submission objecting to the registration of the Party was received.

Application of the 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.

The relevant provisions require this Party to:

  • be an organisation with an aim of promoting candidates it endorses for election to the House of Representatives and/or the Senate;
  • have at least 500 members eligible to be on the electoral roll;
  • make 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.

Political Party

The Party appears to meet the definition of a political party firstly in being an organisation, that has been recognised as an organisation by the ACT Electoral Commission during its ACT registration since March 2001 and its participation in the 2001 and 2004 ACT elections.

Secondly, its constitution has as an objective at 3.1.2 an aim of seeking 'election of its candidates to the House of Representatives and Senate'.

The Party has an active website at www.ldp.org.au with a history of the party and details of current and recent events relevant to members.

Application

The application conforms to the requirements in s.126 of the Electoral Act, in that it:

  • is made by ten members of the Party, of whom one is the secretary of the Party;
  • sets out the names and addresses of the applicants and particulars of the capacity in which each applicant makes the application;
  • sets out the name, address and signature of the person who is to be the registered officer of the Party;
  • sets out the name of the Party and any abbreviation that the Party wishes to be able to use for the purposes of the Electoral Act;
  • includes a list of the names of at least 500 members of the Party to be relied on for the purposes of registration and copies of their membership applications;
  • states whether the Party wishes to receive moneys under Division 3 of Part XX of the Electoral Act;
  • is accompanied by a copy of the constitution of the Party;
  • is accompanied by the required $500 fee; and
  • is accompanied by a statutory declaration affirming the membership details.

Secretary

The role of secretary is well described in the Party's constitution in section 6.5. The secretary has 'overall responsibility for correspondence in connection with the Party' and is allocated other responsibilities of an administrative nature.

The 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. 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.

If, in contacting a random sample of 20 people from the membership list, there is no more than one instance where the membership could not be confirmed, then the AEC accepts that the party has passed the required membership test. The test is designed to detect fraudulent membership in the 500 members on the basis that an application that contains fraudulent memberships is unlikely to have 500 members.

A random sample check of 20 members was completed in June 2007. Nineteen members confirmed their membership, and one person did not respond either to phone contact by the AEC or letters written to them asking for confirmation of their membership. A check against all available membership lists was conducted, and of the 555 members provided by the Party, no duplicates were identified.

The Party has demonstrated that there is no fraud in its membership list and that it satisfies the membership eligibility criterion.

Constitution

The Party has an up-to-date constitution that was provided with its application. The constitution contains the following matters relevant to registration:

  • an aim of promoting candidates for election to the Federal Parliament;
  • a secretary with a well 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. The names test requires that a political party cannot be registered if its name or abbreviation:

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

The applicant party initially attempted to register as the 'Liberal Democratic Party'.

On 8 June 2007, the AEC issued the applicant Party a section 131 notice to vary its name as the name was likely to breach section 129.

On 24 July 2007, the AEC received a response from the applicant Party varying the name of the Party to the 'Liberty and Democracy Party' and the abbreviation of the Party to 'LDP'.

The new name of the party, 'Liberty and Democracy Party' and the abbreviation 'LDP' do not offend any of the section 129 prohibitions.

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

Objections

Before a decision can be made on an application to register a political party, the AEC is required to advertise the application seeking written submissions objecting to the registration of the party.

Written submissions objecting to an application to register a political party can only address three matters:

  • that the application does not relate to an eligible political party;
  • that the application has not been made in accordance with section 126 of the Electoral Act (the section setting out the requirements to be met by an applicant political party); and
  • that the application should be refused under section 129 of the Electoral Act (the names test).

The Party's application was advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette and in 10 newspapers circulating in the various states and territories on Wednesday 1 August 2007.

One written submission was received:

Elections ACT

Elections ACT made this submission on 3 August 2007. It advised that the abbreviation sought to be used by the Liberty and Democracy Party (LDP) was the same as that used by the ACT-registered Liberal Democratic Party. This party stood candidates at the 2004 ACT election.

Process for dealing with objections

Subsection 132(5) of the Electoral Act requires that the AEC provide the proposed registered officer of the applicant Party with a copy of all submissions received and provide them with the opportunity to comment on the submissions.

Analysis of objections

Objection to use of the abbreviation "LDP"

Elections ACT advised that the abbreviation 'LDP' is currently the registered abbreviation of the Liberal Democratic Party in the ACT and may breach section 129 of the Electoral Act (the names test).

Paragraph 129(1)(d) states that the Commission shall refuse an application where the abbreviation so nearly resembles the abbreviation of an unrelated recognised political party that it is likely to be confused or mistaken for that party.

The AEC has determined that the Liberal Democratic Party registered in the ACT is related to the Liberty and Democracy Party on the basis that these are two names used for registration purposes by the same Party.

As the parties are related, the abbreviation LDP does not offend paragraph 129(1)(d).

The delegate rejected the objection.

Conclusion

The Liberty and Democracy Party has now been registered.

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

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