Marque Lawyers named legal rep in Frydenberg, Liu saga
Marque Lawyers has been confirmed as the legal representative acting on behalf of those who filed petitions in the High Court yesterday, alleging Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Liberal member Gladys Liu gained their seats of Kooyong and Chisholm, respectively, illegally.
The petition against the election of Mr Frydenberg in the seat of Kooyong was filed by independent candidate Oliver Yates, while the petition against the election of Ms Liu in the seat of Chisholm was filed by Leslie Hall, an elector in that seat.
Marque Lawyers is representing both Mr Yates and Ms Hall, and argues that the two petitions should be heard by the court together despite being filed separately.
The firm noted both petitions have been brought under section 362 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, on the basis that the elections in the two seats were affected by illegal conduct committed by the Liberal Party, to the knowledge of both Liberal candidates, on the day of the election.
“The alleged illegality was conduct that was likely to mislead or deceive voters in relation to the casting of their vote,” a statement from Marque Lawyers said.
“The Liberal Party authorised a sign that was displayed at polling booths all over both electorates on election day, with very unusual features.”
The features, Marque Lawyers said, include that: “it was in the Australian Electoral Commission’s official colours of purple and white; it had no Liberal branding at all and did not refer to the Liberal candidates or policies; it was in Chinese language, which translated into English said: ‘The right way to vote: On the green ballot paper, fill in 1 next to the candidate of Liberal Party, and fill in the numbers from smallest to largest, in the rest of the boxes’.”
Michael Bradley, managing partner of Marque Lawyers, said the case “raises critical questions for the conduct of elections in our democracy”.
“The recent federal election saw some appalling examples of conduct that were designed to mislead voters and undermine the democratic process,” he said.
“The law in this area is very narrow; we don’t have a guarantee of truth in political advertising. However, even on the narrowest interpretation of the Electoral Act’s provisions, we believe that the Liberal Party went too far in Kooyong and Chisholm. It posted signs that were clearly designed to trick Chinese speaking voters into thinking that the AEC was directing them to vote in a particular way. That is just not on.
“Neither of our clients is motivated by politics in bringing their case forward, but by their belief that the slide toward anti-democratic and dishonest behaviour in our electoral process needs to be stopped before it gets even worse.
“They also felt that they had to take this step because the AEC, which governs the Electoral Act, has refused to do anything about the conduct at all.
“We will be asking the court to hear both petitions and provide some much-needed clarification for everyone on where the limits of acceptable campaign conduct lie.”