File reference: Reg5163, 13/295
The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens) should be registered under Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.
Each application to enter a political party in the Register of Political Parties is assessed against the requirements in Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act).
On 9 April 2013, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) received an application from the ‘Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens)’ (the Party) to be registered as a political party under the provisions of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act). The Party proposed to record ‘Stop The Greens’ as its registered abbreviation.
The AEC conducted a series of tests usually undertaken as part of the initial consideration of an application. On 23 May 2013, a delegate of the AEC found that the Party's application complied with the eligibility requirements of the Electoral Act and approved the advertisement of the Party's application for public input. On 29 May 2013, the application was advertised on the AEC website and in 10 newspapers achieving coverage throughout Australia as required by s.132 of the Electoral Act.
Three people lodged objections against the proposed registration of the Party and the Party responded to the content of those objections on 30 June 2013.
Section 132 of the Electoral Act provides one month from the date of advertisement for any person (or organisation) to submit written particulars of grounds for their belief that the application:
Eligibility of a political party is determined by the definition of 'political party' in s.4 of the Electoral Act and the definition of 'eligible political party' in s.123 of the Electoral Act.
The first objection asserted that the proposed abbreviation, Stop The Greens, uses an already registered abbreviation and simply adds one word before it. The registered abbreviation of the Australian Greens and its registered branches is ‘The Greens’. The objector states ‘it will inevitably be confused or mistaken by a voter or voters for that recognised party’ – The Greens. The objector asserts ‘The application should be rejected because the party’s name and abbreviated name is prohibited by the Act’.
The second objection made similar assertions. It states that ‘Stop The Greens contains the name of another political party [The Greens] and differs by only one word’, meaning that a small proportion of voters will mistake the two or be confused between the two. The objector claims that the proposed name and abbreviation are in breach of s.129(1)(d) of the Electoral Act.
In addition, this objector asserts that the phrase ‘Stop The Greens’ implies a connection or relationship to ‘The Greens’, even though the word ‘Stop’ intends that to be a negative relationship. The implied relationship means the name and abbreviation is unacceptable under s.129(1)(da) of the Electoral Act.
The third objection was made by Brett Constable (National Manager of the Australian Greens) and Andrew Bartlett (Registered Officer of the Australian Greens). This objection is also based on the proposed name and abbreviation breaching ss.129(1)(d) and (da) of the Electoral Act.
This objection asserts that the use of ‘The Greens’ as part of the proposed name and abbreviation of the Party should be refused because:
The Party’s reply critiqued the objections, pointing out that none of the claims made were supported by evidence, and asserted that ‘decisions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, reviewing AEC decisions on party names, have established that if party names are visually and aurally distinguishable the proposed name should not be refused’. The reply contends that ‘Stop The Greens’ is clearly distinguishable from ‘The Greens’ by the addition of the word ‘stop’ which is in common use to indicate obstruction or opposition.
Section 129 of the Electoral Act contains provisions under which certain names (including abbreviations) are not to be registered:
In questions of party names needing to be considered under s.129(1)(d) or (da), the AEC is guided by:
The 2009 AAT judgment on The Fishing Party’s application for review of the decision to register the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party stated that:
Following the AAT’s decision in that matter, the delegate of the AEC considers that the phrase ‘Stop The Greens’ is aurally and visually distinguishable from ‘The Greens’ such that the proposed name and abbreviation are not required to be refused by the AEC under s.129 of the Electoral Act.
The delegate of the AEC registered the Party as set out below.
Notice under section 133(1A)(a)
On 5 July 2013, as delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission for the purposes of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I entered the following party in the Register of Political Parties.
Delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission