The WA Liberal Party has won a Supreme Court injunction against the City of Armadale that will allow it to display political signs on private property for the State election campaign in a ruling that could have big implications for political advertising Statewide.
The City of Armadale's town planning scheme bans electoral signs and the council ordered signs advertising the Liberal candidate for Armadale, Katherine Webster, to be taken down on December 17.
But the Liberal Party's State director, Ben Morton, launched a Supreme Court challenge on the grounds that the ban infringed the implied right to free political communication in the Australian Constitution.
After an urgent application heard in the absence of lawyers for Armadale because of the Christmas break, Chief Justice Wayne Martin granted an injunction on December 24 preventing the council removing the signs on a property at the corner of Lefroy Road and Albany Highway in Mt Nasura.
That injunction was extended on Friday by Justice Kenneth Martin until the matter goes to trial. The council's law prohibits all election signs unless they are displayed at polling places within 24 hours of the close of voting on election day.
Justice Martin said there was a "strong arguable case" that the City of Armadale's laws were a "contravention of the (implied constitutional) freedom of (political) communication".
Mr Morton said the Liberal Party believed people should be free to communicate their support for political candidates by displaying signs on their private property.
"We didn't want to (seek an injunction) but we had to," he said.
"The decision of Justice (Wayne) Martin supports the view of the Liberal Party that these constraints on electoral signs are unjustifiable fetters on free political communication, and arbitrarily discriminate based on the contents of the signs."
The party would write to other councils with election sign bans and "while it is not our desire, we will take action where required".
Armadale council acting chief executive Ian MacRae said the council did not want to see a "proliferation of signage that might unreasonably diminish the amenity of streetscapes or affect public safety and convenience".
He did not accept the council's town planning scheme breached the implied right to free political communication.The matter will be heard in the Supreme Court on a date to be set.
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