Posted by Jim McDonald on March 4, 2012
Election signs are a sign that democracy is at work and there is an election in place.
Signs enable parties that aren’t supported by mining billionaires, like the sitting Noosa LNP member, Hon. Glen Elmes, to have a chance at getting their message out. The LNP is supported by mining magnate Clive Palmer. The Greens are supported by small donations from individuals.
Candidate signage is an Australian and international democratic tradition found in every Western liberal democracy. However, Glen Elmes is prepared to support his mates on the Sunshine Coast Regional Council trashing an Australian electioneering tradition and almost certainly breaching the Local Government Act.
The Council has announced that it will limit signs in Noosa to two for each candidate.
This limitation to two signs is disrespectful of the democratic political process. Mr Elmes runs the facile visual pollution argument, and rests his case on having both won and lost elections in the absence of signage. That reasoning is irrelevant to the matter of democratic principle. Indeed, I would argue that he presents the spectacle of an elected member of Parliament supporting the Council in breaking the provisions of the Local Government Act 2009. The Act expressly prevents the Council from prohibiting signs. While the Council limits two signs to a candidate, the Council prohibits any other signs. In my view the Council is breaking the law by putting any number on election signs.
Section 36(1)(b) of the Queensland Local Government Act 2009 states, without any caveat, that “A local government must not make a local law that … (b) prohibits the placement of election signs or posters.” What is clearer than that?
That provision leaves it open to regulation about placement but not limiting the number and certainly not insulting the intelligence of the voters and the candidates who put themselves forward for public office. If the Sunshine Coast Regional Council wants some consistency about placement, then it ought to consult the reasonable guidelines issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Mr Elmes’s support of the two sign announcement is another example of the LNP having lost any sense of a fair go and why his party is no better than the State Labor Government which ran roughshod over the Noosa Shire. The Greens stand much closer to the great Australian social justice traditions than either party, both of which have lost their way.
Noosa Electoral District