More Tasmanian election ads investigated

Policies are being overshadowed by complaints about advertising in the Tasmanian election campaign.


Leader of the Palmer United Party Clive Palmer. (Getty) Source: SBS

Tasmanian authorities are now investigating three possible breaches of the state's electoral laws, two of them allegedly by the Palmer United Party (PUP).

Electoral commissioner Julian Type has received complaints about a PUP newspaper advertisement and a letter to voters written by party founder Clive Palmer.

Liberal party advertising is also being investigated.

Tasmanian laws ban the publication of the name or photo of a political opponent in campaign material without their permission.

The controversy has overshadowed campaigning by the major parties before Saturday's poll, and could yet have implications for the federal parliament.

The ad that sparked the initial complaint from the Liberals carried an authorisation by PUP senator-elect Jacqui Lambie.

Ms Lambie and federal MP Mr Palmer face doubts over their seats if they are found to have breached the law.

The maximum penalty is a $39,000 fine or 12 months' jail, making it a serious enough offence to question their positions as federal members.

Ms Lambie denies she saw the ad before its publication.

Mr Palmer said lawyers had told him High Court rulings on free speech would override the Tasmanian law.

He said the law had been designed for how-to-vote cards rather than campaign material.

"There's no legal problem," he said.

"Any first-year lawyer can tell you that.

"You've only got to read the High Court judgments on it and you've only got to read the act."

At a feisty media conference in Hobart, Mr Palmer said he was prepared to go to jail to fight for free speech.

"I'm happy to be like Gandhi and fight for the freedom of Tasmanians because they've had enough," he said.

Ms Lambie said she was ready to become a "political prisoner" before blaming the Abbott government for the furore.

The initial ad showed Premier Lara Giddings, Liberal leader Will Hodgman and the Greens' Nick McKim on a "wanted" poster and branded them the "three amigos".

The ad appeared again on Tuesday, minus the leaders' names and photos.

Mr Palmer held aloft ads placed by the Liberals that named PUP candidates, declaring his party would not complain.

It is understood, however, the PUP has complained about the ads.

No resolution to any of the three complaints is expected before polling day.

Meanwhile, a Morgan poll put PUP support in Tasmania the highest in the nation, at 11.6 per cent.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, a group of Tasmanian Liberal candidates for the first time indicated they support same-sex marriage.

The state became the first to pass marriage equality legislation in its lower house in 2012, despite all Liberal members voting against it, before it was blocked in the upper house.

"I support marriage equality in Tasmania, not despite being a Liberal, but because I'm a Liberal," Braddon candidate Kyron Howell said.

Labor announced its cultural policy, along with the Greens, who committed $12 million.

3 min read
Published 11 March 2014 at 9:57am
Source: AAP