File reference: Reg5305, 13/397
The Australian Electoral Commission affirmed a decision by its delegate to refuse an application to register The Burger Urge Party under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.
On 13 May 2013, the Australian Electoral Commission (the AEC) received an application to register The Burger Urge Party (the Party) as a political party under Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act). On 5 June 2013, the Party amended its application in response to a notice under s.131 of the Act issued by a delegate of the AEC because the delegate was not satisfied the Party had provided evidence it was eligible for registration.
AEC staff checked the amended application against the Act and identified at least 500 people on the Party’s membership list who were enrolled as required by s.123 of the Act. Staff then contacted a random sample of those people seeking their confirmation that they were members of the Party. Five people out of a random sample of 18 apparent members denied that they were members of the Party.
On 18 June 2013, a delegate of the AEC refused the Party’s application for registration because the AEC could not be satisfied that the Party had at least 500 members to make it eligible for registration.
On 18 July 2013, the AEC received an application under s.141(2) of the Act for review of that decision by a meeting of the Commissioners of the AEC. In its application for review, the Party claimed to have over 800 members and sought the overturning of the delegate’s decision through further testing of the Party’s membership. The Party offered no improved membership list for testing, nor any other evidence in support of its application for review.
A meeting of the Commissioners of the AEC was scheduled for 7 August 2013 to consider this application. When the Governor-General issued writs for the 2013 federal elections on 5 August 2013, the operation of s.127 of the Act prevented further progress with this review until the return of the final 2013 federal election writ. That writ was returned on 6 November 2013 and a meeting of the Commissioners of the AEC was rescheduled for 14 November 2013.
The Commissioners considered the decision of the delegate and noted that the membership list of the Party was tested twice. On the first occasion, fewer than 500 people on the membership list were identified as being enrolled as required by s.123 of the Act. The Party then took the opportunity provided to lodge an improved membership list which satisfied the requirement that at least 500 people on the membership list could be identified on the electoral roll. In the conduct of the second test, AEC staff proceeded to the second stage of membership testing and contacted 18 members of the Party to seek their confirmation that they were members of the Party. Five people, out of the 18 contacted from the random sample, denied being members of the Party and a delegate of the AEC refused the application of the Party because they were not satisfied that the Party was eligible for registration under the provisions of the Act.
The Commissioners of the AEC affirmed the delegate’s decision to refuse the application for registration from The Burger Urge Party.
Where the Commissioners of the AEC make a decision affirming a prior decision of an AEC delegate concerning party registration, interested persons are advised that they can make an application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for further review of the decision.
The Hon Peter Heerey QC
Mr Ed Killesteyn
Mr Brian Pink