Party registration decision: Pauline's United Australia Party

Updated: 4 January 2011

Party entered in the Register of Political Parties

File reference: Reg2524, 07/1038

The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the application by Pauline's United Australia 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 13 July 2007, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application from Pauline's United Australia Party (the Party) for registration as a political party under the provisions of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act).

The Party's application was advertised on Tuesday, 14 August 2007 in a Special Notices Gazette and on Thursday 16 August 2007 in ten major newspapers throughout Australia. Two written submissions objecting to the Party's registration were received.

On 21 August 2007, the delegate determined the Party's application did not pass the registration tests usually undertaken as part of the initial consideration and approved the issuing of a letter to the Party seeking clarification of the application to ensure that the Party office matching the definition of 'secretary' was identified.

On 24 August 2007 the Party lodged a written request, signed by the Registered Officer, Party Secretary and the Treasurer, to vary the application so as to identify the Party office matching the definition of 'secretary'.

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 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 meets the definition as it is an organisation based on a constitution. The Party's constitution includes an objective to endorse "candidates to contest elections for local and state government representatives and for the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate".

FAD believes the Party meets the test of being a political party under s.4 of the Act.

Application

The application conforms with the technical requirements in the Electoral Act.

Secretary

Section 123 of the Electoral Act identifies that a party secretary is a person, however described, who performs the functions of conducting the correspondence and administration of the party.

It was not clear on the initial examination of the Party's application which person performed that function.

On 21 August 2007, the AEC wrote to the Party advising that, unless it could identify the person who performed the functions of conducting the correspondence and administration of the Party, its application might be refused.

On 24 August 2007, the Party responded. The Party provided formal minutes of its inaugural meeting on 19 June 2007 as evidence that it has a secretary and as evidence of the role of the secretary.

The Party now passes this test.

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, are set out in the Party's constitution.

Membership is open to persons of 15 years and over where as members counted for registration must be eligible for electoral enrolment. Membership forms signed by each member declare that the member is eligible for enrolment. 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 FAD 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 August 2007 where 19 out of 20 members confirmed their membership. One member could not be contacted. A check against all available membership lists was conducted, and of the 543 members provided by the Party, no duplicates were found.

FAD is of the view that the Party has demonstrated that there is no fraud in its membership list and that it has the 500 members to be eligible for registration.

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 the Senate or the House of Representatives; and
  • detailed membership criteria.

However, the constitution does not identify a position that performs the function of a secretary.

As indicated above the Party provided formal minutes of its inaugural meeting on 19 June 2007 as evidence that it has a secretary and as evidence of the role of the secretary.

The Party passes this test.

Party name

Section 129 prohibits the registration of parties with certain names. Specifically, the name shall not be approved if any of the following conditions are met:

  • more 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 no political parties with a similar name currently registered at State, Territory or Federal level in Australia.

The Party passes the names test.

Publication of advertisement

The AEC advertised the application on Tuesday 14 August in a Special Notices Gazette and on Thursday 16 August in the following newspapers around Australia:

  • The Australian;
  • The Sydney Morning Herald
  • The Age;
  • The Courier Mail;
  • The West Australian;
  • The Advertiser;
  • The Mercury;
  • The Examiner;
  • The Canberra Times; and
  • The Northern Territory News.

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 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 two written submissions from the following parties objecting to the application by Pauline's United Australia Party:

  • Rosina Gordon; and
  • Patricia Devereaux.

Rosina Gordon made her submission on 10 September 2007. She argued that the application from the Party should be refused as it contravenes section 126 of the Act. Ms Gordon objects on the basis that the address provided by the Registered Officer of the Party, Ms Pauline Hanson, is not her actual address, but a caretaker address. The address provided is in fact the address of the Party secretary, Ms Jeanette McDonald.

Ms Gordon also questions the likelihood of the Party legitimately meeting the membership requirements for registration. This argument is based on the fact that its membership forms require that applicants be at least 15 years old, and that consequently it is possible that some of the 500 members used to support the application may not be eligible for enrolment.

Patricia Devereaux made her submission on 26 August 2007. Her objection is that the agenda of Pauline's United Australia Party seems to consist solely of racial vilification.

Process for dealing with objections

Subsection 132(5) of the 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.

Copies of the objections have been provided to the Party, but no response has been received to date.

Analysis of objections

Objection to use of caretaker address

Rosina Gordon's submission objecting to the registration of the applicant Party argued that the address provided by the registered officer of the Party, Ms Pauline Hanson, is not her actual address, but a caretaker address. The argument is invoking subparagraph 132(2)(b)(ii) of the Act – that the application should be refused under section 126 of the Act.

Paragraph 126(2)(c) states that an application for the registration of an eligible political party shall be in writing, signed by the applicant or applicants and by the person who is to be the registered officer of the Party, and shall set out the name and address of the person who is to be the registered officer of the Party for the purposes of this Act.

The Act contains different definitions of what constitutes an 'address' for the purposes of the Act for different parts of the Act.

For Part XI of the Act, section 123 states that an 'address' does not include a postal address that consists of a post office box number.

The registered officer address provided by the Party is not a postal address that consists of a post office box number: it is a full street address and suburb, and this is all that is required of the Party.

This address is also the physical address from which the Party operates. The AEC has always considered the physical address from which the Party operates to sufficiently meet the definitions provided in sections 123 of the Act.

The delegate is of the view that there are no grounds to uphold this objection.

Objection to membership of the applicant Party

Rosina Gordon questions whether the list of members used by the applicant Party to seek registration contains members under the age of 17 since the Party's constitution offers membership to people from the age of 15.

An objection in relation to party membership is based on the requirements of paragraph 126(2)(ca) of the Act. Section 123(3) is also relevant as it states that a reference in Part XI to a member of a political party is a reference to a person who is both a member of the political party or a related political party and entitled to enrolment under the Act.

Paragraph 126(2)(ca) requires that a non-parliamentary party provide a list of 500 members to be relied on for the purposes of registration.

The Party provided a membership list of 543 members. Each membership form included a signed statutory declaration from the member declaring they were at least 17 years of age in accordance with section 123(3)(b) of the Act. In addition, in line with the AEC's requirements, the Party secretary has attached a statutory declaration to the application attesting to the fact that the members used to support the application are eligible for enrolment.

To test Mrs Gordon's assertion, the AEC undertook a test of the age of a sample of 40 of the members (including the 20 members initially contacted as part of the fraud membership test) provided by the Party to support its registration. All of these members were over the age of 17. The delegate is of the view that the test provides reasonable assurance that the members provided by the Party in support of its application are eligible for enrolment.

Consequently, there are no grounds to support this objection.

Objection to Party agenda based on racial vilification

Patricia Devereaux's objection is based on the policy agenda of the Party, which she describes as being based on racial vilification.

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 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).

As Ms Devereaux's submission does not address any of these criteria, the submission cannot be considered by the delegate.

Conclusion

Pauline's United Australia Party has now been registered.

Tim Pickering
A/g Deputy Electoral Commissioner
Delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission

19 September 2007

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