REISSUE: Electoral Act reform

A draft Bill containing proposed amendments to the Electoral Act, including the removal of the ban on newspaper commentary and reporting on election day, will be released for consultation today.

The draft Bill contains the first tranche of proposed technical amendments to the Electoral Act, many requested by the media and the Tasmanian Electoral Commission.

The ban on election day newspaper commentary and reporting does not apply in other Australian jurisdictions or to online and social media content.

The Premier announced a review of Tasmania’s Electoral Act and associated electoral laws in May 2018, with removing the ban receiving widespread support.

In addition, the draft Bill includes amendments to address difficulties arising from delays in postal delivery times and to improve the operation of the Act.

We have also released the Interim Report of the Review of the Electoral Act in Tasmania, which is out for public consultation and feedback until February 2019.

The Interim Report considers a broad range of issues arising from the Terms of Reference, which were developed following a call for public submissions.

The Review is to be guided by two governing principles – protecting freedom of speech, with note to Constitutional implications, and minimal cost to the taxpayer.

The Terms of Reference for the Review are:

  • modernising the current Tasmanian Electoral Act, with specific examinations of sections including section 191(1)(b), 196(1) and 198(1)(b);
  • whether state-based disclosure rules should be introduced and, if so, what they should include; and
  • the level of regulation of third parties, including unions, during election campaigns.

The Interim Report and draft Bill are available at https://www.justice.tas.gov.au/community-consultation along with details on how to make a submission.

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