The Australian Electoral Commission has referred an anti-Labor and Green pamphlet being distributed in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney to the Federal Police for investigation.

As reported in Crikey yesterday, the Labor candidate for Wentworth, George Newhouse, has said he believes the Exclusive Brethren, already under investigation over political advertising, are behind the pamphlet, which claims that only the Howard Government can keep Australia a Christian nation.

Meanwhile, the Exclusive Brethren issued a media release stating that the Church “categorically denies claims the Church is campaigning against Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Wentworth, Mr George Newhouse”:

“It has come to the Exclusive Brethren’s attention that a leaflet was distributed in Wentworth urging people not to vote for either Labor or the Greens and to ‘keep Australia Christian’,” Church elder, Mr Phil McNaughton said.

“The Exclusive Brethren has canvassed its members widely and is confident no member of its congregation is behind these leaflets,” he said.

“Nor is the Church itself involved in any way in the funding, design, production or dissemination of these leaflets.”

Yesterday the Chief Legal Officer of the AEC, Paul Pirani, told Crikey that the pamphlet was a clear breach of Commonwealth Electoral Act since it contained no proper authorisation or identification of those behind it. While Labor suspects the Exclusive Brethren, Pirani says there is no evidence to either support or dismiss this assumption.

Apparently both the Labor Party and the Greens have complained about the leaflet to the AEC.

“If we had been able to identify who was responsible, then we would have been briefing the Director of Public Prosecutions,” said Pirani.

As it is, the police have been asked to investigate.

It seems the pamphlet has been distributed in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, mostly in the electorate of Wentworth.

Crikey is interested in knowing whether this pamphlet, or any like it, has been distributed elsewhere. Have any of the Crikey army seen those who are putting it in letter boxes?

Any information should be sent to the Australian Electoral Commission or the Federal Police, of course, but can also be sent to us at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey