Party registration decision: One Nation

Updated: 4 January 2011

The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the application by Pauline Hanson's One Nation (NSW) Division to change its name to One Nation and its abbreviation to ON under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 should be accepted and the change entered in the Register of Political Parties.

Background

On 6 June 2007, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from Pauline Hanson's One Nation (NSW Division) to change its registered name to "One Nation" and its registered abbreviation to "ON" under the provisions of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act).

On 19 June 2007, the Delegate determined the initial consideration of the Party's application and approved its advertising. The application was advertised on Wednesday 27 June 2007 in the Commonwealth Gazette and in newspapers throughout the various states and territories. One written submission was 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 and to change their entries in the Register. 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 129 and 134 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:

  • make application for registration in the manner prescribed in s.134; and
  • propose a name and optional abbreviation for registration that is not prohibited by s.129.

Application of relevant legal provisions

The Application

The application was correctly made in accordance with section 134 of the Electoral Act by three members of the party, one of whom was the Secretary, setting out the proposed name and abbreviation of the party. As required by the Electoral Act, the names and addresses of the applicants were set out in the application which was accompanied by a $500 application fee.

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.

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.

In 2004, the Party applied to change its name to One Nation Australia and attracted objections from other branches of One Nation on the basis that a reasonable person would think that the new name implied a relationship between the branches in which the new One Nation Australia was the dominant partner when that particular relationship did not exist. The AEC upheld the objections made on that ground.

For some years, Ms Pauline Hanson has not been involved with the One Nation parties and has requested that they amend their names to show that she is no longer connected to them. A repeat letter from Ms Hanson was attached to this application.

A new party seeking to register a One Nation name would have its proposed name refused under s.129(d) unless it could show that the party was related, in the terms of s.123 of the Electoral Act, to the One Nation parties registered at federal and state level. The AEC issued a recent s.131 notice to One Nation Western Australia on this basis when that party applied to re-register following the bulk de-registrations on 27 December 2006.

FAD staff met with 10 representatives of 5 state branches of One Nation in West Block on Tuesday 5 June 2007. The One Nation parties requested the meeting to better understand the s.131 notice issued in response to One Nation Western Australia's application for re-registration and to discuss with AEC staff how best to provide the necessary evidence that the branches are related in terms of s.123 of the Electoral Act. The One Nation representatives advised FAD staff that the meeting was a meeting of the One Nation national executive which has met on previous occasions since the deregistration of the federal body of Pauline Hanson's One Nation several years ago and the voluntary liquidation of the business that was attached to that party.

Evidence has now been provided by One Nation Western Australia in support of its response to the s.131 notice. The delegate has accepted that there is a continuing One Nation national body through which the various One Nation state branches can show that they are related in the terms of section 123 of the Act.

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

Written submissions

Written submissions objecting to an application from a political party to change its name 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 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 Act (the names test).

The AEC received one written submission objecting to the application to change the Party's name. That submission did not address any of the three matters listed above. On that basis, the delegate did not consider the written submission.

Conclusion

The AEC saw no reason to refuse to register the Party and no objections were lodged following the advertisement of its application.

The registered name of the Party has been changed to One Nation and its abbreviation to ON. One Nation should be approved.

Paul Dacey
Deputy Electoral Commissioner
Delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission

2August 2007

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