November 27, 2006 | Graham

Can the Greens challenge the result?

I’m unfamiliar with Victorian electoral laws, but in a just system, you’d think that the Greens would have the right to challenge the result, at least in Melbourne, if the Labor campaign was anything like it was in Northcote.
The pamphletts reproduced below were provided by Benno Spearritt who lives in Northcote. One would assume that they are virtually identical to what went out in Melbourne as well. They quite clearly show that the ALP campaign lied about the Greens position on preferencing the Liberal Party.
Something happened on the ground late in the campaign. One poll, which I haven’t been able to track-down, had the Greens neck and neck with Labor in the seat of Melbourne, with both close to 40%. But on the day their vote was only 27%. Even so, they came within 2.3% of winning. Did brochures like these make the difference, scaring the protest vote away from the Greens just in case voting for them could inadvertently elect a Liberal government?
This first brochure is merely misleading. It sets up the theme that voting for Greens could be the same thing as voting for Liberals.
ALP flyer1_front.JPG
The quotes from the newspapers give a fair view of the situation – if you bother to read the body of the text.
ALP flyer1_back.JPG
This is where the deception sets in. A split ticket – effectively recommending voters make up their own mind is not the same thing as directing preferences.
ALP flyer2_front.JPG
And the crowning deceit – a “Liberal-Greens” alliance
ALP flyer2_back.JPG
The Greens response is not great. Why put the candidate’s photo on the front? Is denying the Labor claim the best tactic? Wouldn’t it have been better to answer the real charge – that voting Greens could inadvertently elect a Liberal government – and turn it around on the government as demonstrating the need for a party to keep the bastards honest?
Greens flyer1_front.JPG
Why bother with a back-page when it says exactly the same as the front? Could have saved the ink.
Greens flyer1_back.JPG
If I were the Greens I’d do a poll now of the electorates where they came close to see what proportion thought they had done a deal to direct preferences to the Liberal Party and what proportion thought this might lead to a Liberal government. I’d also be asking for an indication of whether people had changed their vote on the basis of either of these two claims. If it looked like it was close to the election-winning margin I’d pass the hat around and have a go at getting the argument up in court.
It certainly debauches the political process when parties are allowed to distribute material which is as dishonest as some of this.

Posted by Graham at 8:54 pm | Comments (11) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I know very little about law and Victorian law in particular, but I don’t think that there is a law against lies and deceit, unless it constitutes defamation. But I don’t think that you can defame an entity, such as a company, media organistaion, union or a political party.
    If only Woody Guthrie was still around to sing about stuff like this.

    Comment by Benno Spearritt — November 28, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

  2. Brilliant post, Graham. To help out with your suggested poll, friends of ours told me as they came thru the door to watch Anthony Green dance upon the keyboard, that they’d voted ALP this time, becuase they could never vote for a party preferencing the Libs.

    Comment by wbb — November 28, 2006 @ 11:16 pm

  3. Thanks for spelling this out Graham. I was rather taken aback with what went on. Peter Garrett was roped into the mix as well signing letters with the same misleading spin.

    Comment by Nicholas Gruen — November 29, 2006 @ 10:04 am

  4. Well, there’s this

    Comment by Sylvia Else — November 29, 2006 @ 11:28 am

  5. Nothing about a re-election there Sylvia. I wonder what a “penalty point” is? And who has to launch the prosecution? Is it the electoral commission?

    Comment by Graham Young — November 29, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  6. Graham
    That section simply states that issuing false or misleading statements is something that must not be done.
    Thus, despite the common belief that politicians will not always tell the truth, there are limits on what they can get away with during elections.
    It would appear to me that there is indeed a case that the result of the election has been affected by conduct that amounts to an offence, so the Greens might get the result overturned.
    BTW, a penalty unit is simply a reference to an amount of money that can be adjusted from time to time to keep up with inflation. It avoids having to amend large numbers of acts and regulations to keep penalties current. The value of a penalty unit (in Victoria) is currently $110, I believe.

    Comment by Sylvia Else — November 29, 2006 @ 2:30 pm

  7. To add insult to injury, Peter Garrett sent scare-mongering personalised letters to voters living in Northcote and parts of Preston warning voters not to vote Green or they might vote to elect a Liberal Party. My partner’s father received one of these letters and was left feeling bewildered and concerned, being someone intensely opposed to the Liberals.
    However, the slander and stand over tactics didn’t end there. I was handing Green ‘How to Vote’ cards at Newlands Primary School and, out of left field, one of the men handing ALP how to vote cards started verbally attacking me, swearing and carrying on because I was, according to him, ‘helping the Liberals to get in”! I was left feeling quite alarmed and scared by his aggressive verbal abuse, especially as I had been conversing politely with him earlier on and the atmosphere was relatively amicable. The irony did not escape me that he was wearing a black shirt and cap – a fleeting thought made me wonder whether he was going to beat me up in a back lane – blackshirt fascist style – after 6.00pm.

    Comment by Patrizia Bertozzi — November 29, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  8. So a successful prosecution could cost the ALP $33,000. I wonder if that is per offence. Could be expensive.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 29, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

  9. I think a penalty point is around $110 at the moment. That’s Federally, I don’t know if it differs at a state level, though.

    Comment by Anna Winter — November 30, 2006 @ 11:52 am

  10. Graham,
    The poll you alluded to in your original comment probably doesn’t exist. Its provenance was a report in the Age (about a week before the election iirc, but I can’t be more precise) quoting leaked Labor polling.
    I recall either you or Mark making some observations about this tactic of selective leaking of what purported to be Labor internal polling being used in Queensland to firm up the Labor vote in certain electorates. I’m pretty sure that the “Greens 40% in Melbourne” is of a piece with this practice.

    Comment by Peter Fuller — December 1, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

  11. Peter, that would explain how it could have deteriorated so much. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been at 40% at some stage. Pity that the newspapers don’t take the whole polling thing more seriously and commission polls in some of these seats so that we can get a proper look at what is going on!

    Comment by Graham Young — December 3, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

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