No special treatment for media personalities

Thursday 20 January 2022

For immediate release


Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately strongly refutes the suggestion that the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) sought to silence media personality, Andrew Bogut, for failing to properly authorise electoral matter.

‘Free speech is important and everyone is free to express their opinion – the VEC encourages robust political discussion. However, if a person publishes that opinion and it is intended or likely to affect how a person votes in an election, it must be properly authorised. That’s the law and it applies to all of us, whether they be a media personality, a member of the public, political party or candidate in an election.’

Authorisation requirements have been a feature of Victorian electoral law for more than 20 years and apply to everyone – all year round. Similar electoral laws exist in all Australian jurisdictions for very important reasons.

‘The purpose of authorisation is to ensure that the public knows and understands who is providing that commentary,’ Mr Gately said.

‘Mr Bogut has not been targeted or treated any differently to anyone else. If we receive a complaint, we respond. It’s quite simple really, all he needs to do is to add his name and an address, which can be a business address. End of story.’

At the 2020 local government elections there were 244 complaints about lack of authorisation across various channels such as websites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, print, billboards and posters; these too were followed up.

In particular, people should ensure that:

  • all websites/webpages are authorised
  • all election-related/campaign postings to social media are authorised or link directly to an authorisation statement
  • care is taken not to defame, threaten or harass any person.

The authorisation statement must be at the end of the electoral matter, as follows:

“Authorised by [authoriser’s name], [authoriser’s address]”.

The address in the authorisation statement cannot be a PO Box or an email address. If printed in anything other than a newspaper, the printer’s name and address must also be included.

The VEC is politically impartial and a statutory body independent of the Victorian State Government.

Media information

Forms of authorisation

The authorisation statement must be at the end of the electoral matter, as follows:

“Authorised by [authoriser’s name], [authoriser’s address]”.

“Printed/published by [printer’s/publisher’s name], [printer’s/publisher’s place of business]”

(Printer/publisher requirement does not apply to newspaper advertisements.)

The address in the authorisation statement cannot be a PO Box or an email address.

Authorisation requirements apply at all times – not just in the election period. Individuals, including candidates, are able to authorise their own election campaign material.

The above requirements do not extend to items such as car stickers, clothing, lapel buttons, fridge magnets, pens, pencils, or balloons.

If in doubt, it is always best to authorise.

The use of online platforms (including social media) for campaigning purposes must conform with electoral law and terms and conditions of the platforms concerned. In particular, people should ensure that:

  • all websites/webpages are authorised
  • all election-related/campaign postings to social media are authorised or link directly to an authorisation statement
  • care is taken not to defame, threaten or harass any person.

Advertisements, including sponsored links, published online must also carry or directly link to an authorisation message.

Candidates/parties should seek their own legal advice in this area.

Electoral matter

Electoral matter is matter which is intended or likely to affect voting in an election.

This includes matter which contains an express or implicit reference to, or comment on:

  • the election; or
  • the Government or Opposition; or
  • a member or former member of Parliament; or
  • a political party or a candidate in the election; or
  • an issue submitted to, or otherwise before, the voters in connection with the election.