The Electoral Commission today filed papers with the Court of Appeal seeking to clarify the meaning of “election advertisement” for the purposes of the Electoral Act following two recent decisions of the High Court that appear to take different approaches to the legal interpretation of its meaning. The Commission is also seeking to clarify the meaning of “election programme” under the Broadcasting Act. …
In the lead-up to the 2014 General Election, two cases were brought before the High Court challenging advisory opinions provided by the Electoral Commission which had advised that certain items were “election advertisements” under section 3A of the Electoral Act. The Commission has lodged an appeal of the more recent decision to clarify the approach the Commission should be taking to the interpretation of “election advertisement” when issuing advisory opinions and to “election programme” when providing advice on election broadcasting.
The appeal is limited to questions of law. The Commission is not seeking to challenge the findings in the Watson decision as they applied to the particular facts in that case.
It’s good that they are not looking to challenge the specific findings in the Planet Key decision. This means the court case is just about getting clarity on the law for future.
Again I think the time has come for broadcasting to be treated the same as other mediums for electoral purposes, so the same law applies to all advertisements.