New rules for authorising electoral, referendum and political matter

Updated: 15 March 2018

New rules apply from 15 March when authorising federal electoral advertisements and other communications defined under legislation, including broadcasting of political matter.

The federal Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (the EOLA Act) takes effect from today, extending the application of existing authorisation requirements to modern communication channels, including online platforms, bulk text messages and robo-calls.

Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said that it is important for anyone including political parties, election candidates, third parties and government agencies planning advertising for elections and referendums to consider the changes, and ensure they comply with the law.

“Electoral advertising and communications or broadcasts of political, electoral and referendum matters that run from 15 March must include an authorisation compliant with the new rules,” Mr Rogers said.

“Descriptions of specific communication channels and the corresponding authorisation requirements are contained in the EOLA Act and in the Commonwealth Electoral (Authorisation of Voter Communication) Determination 2018, which may also be accessed from the electoral advertising authorisation page.”

“The AEC recently published a new Electoral Backgrounder entitled ‘Electoral communications and authorisation requirements’ providing a consolidated summary of the changes in a question and answer format, available at the electoral advertising authorisation page.”

Anyone planning electoral advertising, or other communications defined in the legislation, that is related to the 17 March 2018 by-election in the federal electoral Division of Batman – and overlaps the 15 March commencement date of the new rules – is strongly encouraged to closely examine what is required to comply.

The changes also introduce a civil penalty regime for non-compliance with authorisation requirements, to be administered by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Editor’s note:

Information about the new rules and advice of the availability of the new Electoral Backgrounder were advertised in national and metropolitan newspapers on 8 March 2018.  A media release was also issued on 6 March.

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