Update – 6.30pm, July 28: AgForce was forced to stop distributing pamphlets and to remove posters in the seat of Longman on Saturday afternoon, following the granting of a Federal Court injunction.
The application was made by the ALP’s Longman candidate, Susan Lamb.
Justic Greenwood directed AgForce to “take such steps as be reasonably be taken to affix a sticker to the handbill or write on the hand bill the name of the printer, (and) the city of business of the printer”.
Senior policy advisor, Andrew Freeman, said a phone call had been received late on Saturday morning advising that the rural lobby group’s fliers weren’t compliant.
The advice was to either stop handing them out or remove them.
Mr Freeman said there was some uncertainty about whether a lobby group had to comply with Electoral Act regulations, which was why they challenged the process in the court.
However, the order was made and AgForce was told to desist.
Mr Freeman said all remaining pamphlets had been collected up and signs taken down.
It’s understood that a similar action was taken against promotional material distributed by the Green Shirts Movement.
Mr Freeman said the injunction hadn’t been detrimental to AgForce.
“We’ve been using them for the last month, they’re pretty widely distributed,” he said. “It’s a bit dumb to do it on polling day.”
12.30pm, July 28: Midway through polling day in the critical Longman by-election, AgForce has been advised that the ALP is seeking a Federal Court injunction against the promotional material the rural lobby group is displaying at polling booths in the electorate.
AgForce and other rural-based organisations have been targeting voters in the near-Brisbane electorate in the lead-up to the Super Saturday vote, using the pamphlets and promotional material that is being objected to today.
AgForce understands the objection is that while the posters do carry appropriate authorisation from its CEO Mike Guerin, they do not spell out who printed the posters.
Having failed to silence the #fairlaws4farmers#reclaimgreen campaign in #longman over the past 9 week’s @AustralianLabor is now trying an 11th hour #FederalCourt bid to block #byelection voters seeing @AgForceQLD polling booth posters #cheapshot against #freespeech#LAMBastedpic.twitter.com/YJfmpqToFZ— Pete Lewis (@endofthebitumen) July 28, 2018
Agforce president, Grant Maudsley, speaking from the Burpengary Meadows State School, said he had received the news from one of his advisers.
“I haven’t seen any details yet but we’re obviously disappointed that the ALP would resort to these tactics to grind farmers into the dirt,” he said.
“None of the material says ‘don’t vote Labor’ and it very clearly states on the bottom that we are apolitical and independent.
“It’s very obvious who’s printed it – it’s just one of the games that goes on, on election day.
“It’s a very technical detail but it’s very poor form from the ALP.”
The Australian Labor Party has been contacted for comment.
AgForce has stressed in past interviews that its aim is to talk to voters about the issues that are important to farmers.
Mr Maudsley said it was a message that was receiving good support at the polling booths.
“The slogan ‘support Aussie farmers’ has a ring to it – people like it and respond to it,” he said.
“Probably half the people have made their mind up already but some are listening and looking.”
Mr Maudsley said that until he received advice that an injunction had been granted, it was “business as usual” for AgForce and they would continue handing out pamphlets.