Simon Frost, former acting director of the Victorian Liberals, has admitted that campaign signs written in Chinese dialects that appeared across seven electorates were — surprise, surprise — intended to look like official material from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

The signs, which adopted the purple and white colour scheme of the AEC, roughly translated to: “the correct way to vote is to put the Liberals first”.

Frost’s admission has bolstered challenges to the elections of Gladys Liu in Chisholm and Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong.

The matter is currently being heard in the Federal Court, after the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, referred the matter of the misleading posters (as well as a separate matter relating to Frydenberg’s citizenship) in September.

The court can order new elections in Chisolm and Kooyong if it decides the MPs have not been duly elected — although the AEC has opposed both challenges, given it approved the use of the signs and believes they did not affect how people cast their votes.

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As Australia’s hardest-working psephologist Antony Green has made repeatedly clear on Twitter, the AEC relies on a limited definition of “misleading or deceptive publications” as related to the actual casting of a vote.

Frost’s admission, in Greens’ view, would carry more weight if it related to how-to-vote cards instead of corflutes.

Hopefully everyone keeps that in mind for 2022.

Peter Fray

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