Former MP Craig Kelly could be hit with civil penalties over signs displayed while campaigning for the United Australia Party before this year’s federal election.
The Australian Electoral Commission has expanded its Federal Court lawsuit against the former politician, claiming that signs put up around the Sydney electorate of Hughes before the March election contained absent or illegible particulars.
Political parties are required to include clear details on their election posters including the name and address of the party itself, and the name of the person who authorised the displays.
“Particulars on electoral communications are important for the promotion of free and informed voting at elections,” the AEC wrote in documents filed with the court.
“They enhance transparency in the federal electoral system, accountability of those participating in election campaigns for their communications and the integrity of the electoral system.”
Mr Kelly breached electoral law by failing to include his name and address on the UAP signs or neglecting to include these details in a way that was reasonably prominent and legible, the AEC claims.
“Persons who saw the posters in the community would not be able to read the particulars required by the Electoral Act without carefully scrutinising the signs at a very short distance, or at all.”
Mr Kelly, who defected from the Liberal Party prior to the election, failed to hold his seat in Sydney’s southeast after switching to the Clive Palmer-backed UAP.
The AEC tried but failed to garner court orders forcing Mr Kelly to remove the defective signage in the days before the election.
It is now seeking civil penalties and its legal costs from the rogue politician, citing public harm from the posters.
“The harm suffered by reason of Craig Kelly’s conduct is in the nature of a public harm, namely that the rules for transparent and accountable electoral campaigning were not adhered to,” it wrote.
Mr Kelly has been contacted for comment.