Campaign posters printed in Chinese encouraging people to vote for the Liberal Party have been slammed after appearing across several Melbourne electorates.
The signs have been criticised online for their use of the colour purple, appearing to imitate official Australian Electoral Commission signage.
Victorian Trades Hall secretary Luke Hilakari took to Twitter on Saturday morning to share an image of one of the posters at a Chisholm polling station, alongside an official AEC sign, describing it as a “massive rort”.
“Chisholm Liberals have made posters in Chinese to look like AEC information that translates to ‘the correct way to vote is to put a number 1 next to the Liberals and number every other box’” he wrote, noting they appeared at every booth.
MASSIVE RORT: in Chisholm Liberals have made posters in Chinese to look like AEC information that translates to "the correct way to vote is to put a number 1 next to the Liberals and number every other box.” It’s at every booth. When will the @AusElectoralCom pull them down? pic.twitter.com/nDbQJJXWDe— Luke Hilakari (@lhilakari) May 17, 2019
Hundreds were taken aback by the posters online, calling for the AEC to take action and remove the signage.
“Highly deceptive and shouldn’t be tolerated in the slightest,” one person wrote.
“This has got to stop. Future elections need to be much better governed.”
Another person said that the signs were “disgusting”.
“This is just disgraceful,” another wrote.
Many suggested the posters were an obvious attempt to dupe Mandarin-speaking voters with the same shade of purple used as the AEC.
People began sharing images of the posters cropping up in several other electorates, including Kooyong.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted the Liberal Party for comment.
Chisolm Liberal candidate Gladys Liu told Sky News the signs were authorised by the Liberal Party.
Several people suggested on Twitter the signs were in fact offensive to Chinese-speaking voters, believing the signs insinuate they are uneducated on how to vote.
“I think this shows huge disrespect for the Chinese community. It assume that they are stupid and easily taken in because they don’t understand democratic voting,” one person said.
Labor makes official complaint
An AEC Victoria spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that they have received a complaint from the Labor party over the signage, but appeared to distance the Liberal party campaigners from any wrongdoing.
In a comment on Twitter to Mr Hilakari, the AEC outlined the rules signage must adhere to.
“Under electoral legislation election material has to comply with the following: it has to be authorised and can’t be within 6 metres of the entrance to the polling place,” they wrote.
Just returned and it’s up but not next to the AEC sign... pic.twitter.com/PIuMi2aXmi— Cheryl Critchley (@CherylCritchley) May 18, 2019
The AEC Victoria spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that the signage used does appear to show the necessary authorisation in accordance to their regulations.
The spokesperson added that the AEC had “no regulation on the use of colours” for campaigning material.
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