Labor has accused the Liberal Party of deliberately using the official colours of the Australian Electoral Commission to mislead Chinese-speaking voters in a marginal seat, despite the AEC stating the posters are within the laws.
The posters, which were written in Mandarin and have appeared at booths in the Melbourne seat of Chisholm, state the “correct” way to vote is to preference the Liberal candidate first.
One poster seen by the ABC at the Burwood East Primary School polling booth was printed in the purple and white colours of the AEC and tied to a fence next to an official AEC voting banner.
The text of the poster appears to be written in the style of an official instruction to voters:
“Correct way to vote.
“On the green voting card, put preference 1 next to the Liberal Party. The other boxes can be numbered from smallest to highest.”
Australian Labor Party state secretary Kosmos Samaras has confirmed to the ABC that the party lodged a formal complaint with the AEC.
AEC state manager Steve Kennedy has told the ABC that the commission has considered the complaint and found the posters did not breach election laws.
“Whilst the AEC would prefer that parties or lobby groups don’t use the colour purple, the AEC doesn’t own the colour purple and there is nothing restricting the use of this,” he said.
The Liberal Party has declined to comment.
Labor candidate concerned by implied ‘authority’ of poster
Both the major parties are running female Chinese-Australian candidates in the seat of Chisholm after it was vacated by Liberal-turned-independent Julia Banks.
Roughly 20 per cent of the population in the electorate, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, are of Chinese ancestry.
Ms Yang said she was “shocked” by the posters, which she described as “unethical”.
“[The poster was] trying to pretend [it] was coming out from the authority which in some way does have a huge influence to the ethnic community, especially for the first migrants’ communities,” she said.
Victorian Trades Hall secretary Luke Hilakari said the posters were “clearly deceptive conduct”.
“A number of Chinese voters have been telling us they have been quite confused by these signs,” he said.
“They think because it’s been put out there like … this sign has actually come from the Australian Government, from the Australian Electoral Commission.”