A lawsuit brought over allegedly non-compliant United Australia Party signage has been labelled as a stitch-up and a waste of money by former MP Craig Kelly.
The Australian Electoral Commission is pursuing Mr Kelly in the Federal Court, claiming the ex-politician did “public harm” by displaying UAP posters before this year’s federal election that did not properly display required details of the party.
In a statement, Mr Kelly hit back at the lawsuit, calling it “a complete stitch up. A malicious prosecution. An appalling waste of taxpayers money”.
He disputed the AEC’s claims, saying his signage had all the required authorisations.
“For the AEC to suggest a political poster that has ‘Craig Kelly’ in very large font and ‘authorised by Craig Kelly” in a smaller font caused ‘public harm’ is beyond a joke,” he said.
Under electoral law, election posters are required to contain the name and address of the political party the signs endorse and the name of the person who authorised the displays.
Mr Kelly breached the 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,” the commission wrote.
Mr Kelly further criticised the AEC for what he called a “shameful, undemocratic and unprecedented” attempt for court orders forcing him to remove the allegedly defective signs the night before the election.
On May 20, the eve before the election, Justice Jayne Jagot dismissed this bid and ordered the AEC to pay Mr Kelly’s legal costs.
“The AEC should be apologising for this and there should be an investigation into whoever at the AEC decided to proceed with this previous wasteful court action, seeking such an undemocratic & unprecedented order,” Mr Kelly said.
The politician, who defected from the Liberal Party prior to the election, failed to hold his seat the electorate of Hughes in Sydney’s southeast after switching to the Clive Palmer-backed UAP.
The case will next come before the court on September 20.