New proposed limitations on the display of electoral advertisements
The use of corflute signs, or ‘corflutes’, is an established feature of Australian elections at all tiers of Government. However, due to their method of manufacture the majority of corflutes used by candidates are not environmentally friendly.
Additionally, many corflutes remain on Stobie poles much longer than anticipated, with candidates and their volunteers not removing them within the required timeframe. This leaves many councils with the task of having to take them down.
It is for these reasons that the Electoral (Regulation of Corflutes) Amendment Bill 2021 (the Bill) was introduced in the House of Assembly on 24 August 2021.
The Bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act 1985 (SA) (the Electoral Act) to:
- prohibit the exhibition of ‘electoral advertising posters’ (including posters made of corflute, plastic or any other material prescribed by regulation) on a public road, except in circumstances prescribed by regulation; and
- limit the number of ‘electoral advertising posters’ to be exhibited by candidates or groups within 50 metres of an open polling booth at an election to four posters.
An electoral candidate will be taken to have committed an offence if those provisions are contravened, which will attract a maximum penalty of $5,000. The Bill also provides the presiding officer of a polling booth with broad powers to direct or undertake the removal of ‘electoral advertising posters’ that are exhibited in contravention of the proposed legislation.
The regulations, which are yet to be drafted, appear to be a pertinent feature of the proposed legislation as they will specify the exceptional circumstances where corflutes can be exhibited on public roads, among other things.
The Bill also seeks to amend section 226 of the Local Government Act 1999 (the LG Act) to enable an ‘electoral advertising poster’ to be placed and maintained on a road without authorisation or permit, provided that it is exhibited in accordance with the requirements set out in the Electoral Act (as amended via the proposed changes set out in the Bill).
The amendments to the Electoral Act and the LG Act proposed by the Bill will only apply to State elections, not Commonwealth elections.
While the Bill is not yet the law in South Australia, and is subject to change as it is considered in Parliament, it seems that its intention is to have far fewer corflutes exhibited during periods of election. For councils, the hope is that this Bill will result in council officers not being required to take down any, or at least a significantly reduced number of, corflutes from public roads following elections.
For more specific advice or information regarding any of the matters discussed in this article please contact Paul Kelly on +61 8210 1248 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dale Mazzachi on +61 8 8210 1221 or email@example.com.