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Monday, March 26, 2007

Christmas card no joke says unnamed minister

Heard the one about the minister who complained to the Australian Electoral Commission about a Sydney lawyer's Christmas card on the grounds it was a political advertisement that breached the Electoral Act? The Commission subsequently found it was a breach and told the lawyer to cease and desist or face legal action.

Kerry Anne Walsh in the Sun Herald ("Christmas card riles minister") has the details.

The problem was the apparently humourless minister was upset that it exhorted recipients to "tell John Howard what you want for Christmas" - peace, tolerance and understanding for example.

The Electoral Commission in finding that this was a breach of the Electoral Act sounds pretty humourless too.

The lawyer is challenging a Commission refusal of a Freedom of Information application seeking the details of who complained.

Like to be a fly on the wall on this one. I presume the Commission sat up and took notice of the complaint because it came from a minister, or at least the minister as a member of parliament. It might be hard to argue that the minister's identity in these circumstances is covered by an exemption provision in the Act.

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