Monday, July 14, 2014

Climate Voter and the Electoral Act

When the Climate Voter campaign launched, one of my first thoughts - expressed over Twitter, and directly to their network contact - was that it was an "election advertisement" in terms of the Electoral Act, and was going to get into trouble for not carrying the required promoter statement. It looks like I was right:

Environmental groups are taking the Electoral Commission to court over a ruling on a climate change campaign.

Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, WWF and others launched the Climate Voter initiative last month.

But the Electoral Commission says the campaign counts as an "election advertisement", and is therefore subject to rules around wording of communications and spending restrictions.

The test of whether something is an "election advertisement" is whether it
...may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters... to vote, or not to vote, for a type of party described or indicated by reference to views or positions that are, or are not, held or taken (whether or not the name of the party is stated)
I think that's pretty open and shut. I am not sure how the campaign could not be reasonably regarded as encouraging people to vote (or not vote) for parties on the basis of their climate change policies. And it doesn't fall within any of the exceptions (such as the media one which covers this blog). Which means it must carry a promoter statement, and if they're spending more than $12,500, must register, and are subject to a $313,000 spending cap. Failing to do any of these things is an illegla practice, and deliberate overspending is a corrupt one. Which means that Greenpeace is potentially looking at a hefty fine.

Electoral law exists to ensure there is a level playing field. It applies to all parties. I like the climate voter campaign, but if they're violating electoral law, they need to be prosecuted for it. Its that simple.

(One of the reasons I don't have a little ad up there for climate voter is because of the lack of a promoter statement)