Brisbane City Council has introduced new restrictions for election signs and corflutes on private property and at polling stations, reversing a six-year old ruling that allowed for unlimited election signage.
|Brisbane polling station (ABC News: Josh Robertson)
The surprise move, affecting dozens of Queensland sign companies who produce tens of thousands of election signs for local, state and federal elections, was revealed by Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner (LNP QLD), at a meeting of the Brisbane City Council.
"The changes…help reduce the wastefulness and the significant free-for-all and visual pollution across the city that was happening as a result of more recent changes to the local law," Schrinner told the council, according to an exclusive report by ABC Radio Brisbane’s Lucy Stone. "We have listened to people, we have listened to the community, and I think these changes will provide a good, balanced solution,” Schrinner said.
Candidates in state and local elections will only be permitted to have 50 election signs across their electorate on private properties, the report said. Federal candidates will be limited to 150 across their electorate.
Lord mayoral candidates will be allowed a total of 500 signs citywide (190 suburbs). Residents who want a candidate's corflute on their property must now register its location with the council first. In local council elections, ward candidates are permitted signs that include their own face and a lord mayoral candidate's face.
University of Queensland electoral law professor Graeme Orr told the ABC that there were “real questions about the enforceability of this.” Councils can’t ban election signs on private properties because the High Court of Australia has recognised people have a right to freedom of political expression, Orr said.
"What strikes me here is the number of signs — 150 for a Commonwealth electorate seat. Usually, the parties are aiming to get hundreds and hundreds out."
The report added: “Dr Orr said the law was also unclear on whether issues-based signs, such as an anti-climate change sign, would be considered part of the 50 or 150 cap.”