Each application to enter a political party, or change a political party’s name, abbreviation or logo, in the Register of Political Parties (the Register) is assessed against the requirements in Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act).
The AEC considers all applications under Part XI in accordance with the requirements of the Electoral Act, and if applicable, as interpreted by courts and tribunals.
Section 129 of the Electoral Act outlines the requirements for registering party names and abbreviations and section 129A of the Electoral Act outlines the requirements for registering party logos.
The Electoral Act also defines the following terms that are related to the requirements for political party names, abbreviations, and logos:
Two political parties are ‘related’ to each other if one is part of the other, or both are part of the same political party — for example, a federal party and its registered state/territory branches are ‘related’.
Section 129 of the Electoral Act provides that the Electoral Commission must refuse a party’s application for registration if the party’s proposed name or abbreviation:
A party’s name and proposed abbreviation will be refused, as detailed in Section 134A of the Electoral Act, if:
If there is more than one registered political party with the word in its currently-registered name or abbreviation, the written consent needs only to be from the party who was first to register the relevant name or abbreviation.
Section 129A of the Electoral Act provides that the Electoral Commission may refuse to register a party’s proposed logo if the logo:
The following is a general summary of a decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Tribunal) in which the Tribunal provided guidance on the interpretation of section 129A of the Electoral Act.
This summary is not to be taken or relied upon as legal advice. Prospective applicants to the AEC or Tribunal should obtain their own legal advice before taking steps related to issues raised in this summary.
This case was a review of the Electoral Commission’s decision to register a logo for Australia First Party (NSW) Incorporated (Australia First) that contained an image of the Eureka Flag as one of its elements.
One of the matters considered by the Tribunal was the similarity of the Australia First logo with other entities’ logos or trademarks that included an image of the Eureka flag, and whether the registration of the Australia First logo should therefore be refused.
In considering paragraph 129A(b) of the Electoral Act, the Tribunal determined that the Australia First logo was not ‘the logo of any other person’.
In considering paragraph 129A(c) of the Electoral Act, the Tribunal found that, whilst the Australia First logo (as a whole) resembled the logo of “any other person” (specifically, the logos of other entities that also contained the Eureka Flag), the Australia First logo did not ‘so nearly resemble’ those logos such that it was ‘likely to be confused with or mistaken for’ those logos.
The Tribunal also found that, when determining the likelihood of mistake or confusion, trademarks that are used in an entirely commercial context are irrelevant.
Accordingly, the Tribunal affirmed the Electoral Commission’s decision to register the Australia First logo.