Request for Electoral Act report

ATTORNEY-GENERAL Vanessa Goodwin will request a report on the Electoral Act, in the wake of calls for the legislation to be reviewed.

Vanessa Goodwin

Vanessa Goodwin

This year's state election saw candidates engage in a social media blitz, widespread online advertising, and even text messages to voters on election day.

The act bans political material from being published in newspapers on election day, and from being broadcast on television and radio from the Wednesday before election day, but there is free rein to use other forms of communication. 

Political academic Richard Herr said it was important to make sure there wasn't an unfair advantage for technology-savvy people during campaigns.  

``I think it needs to be updated to take into account social media and new forms of communication,'' Dr Herr said.

Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest said it was too late for changes to be made before the Legislative Council elections next month.

``It definitely needs reviewing before the next state election,'' Ms Forrest said.

Ms Forrest said the rules around the media blackout on election day were important.

``We need to uphold the intent as it stands, but how you do that is a challenge,'' Ms Forrest said.

Ms Forrest said people could be ``bombarded with text messages'' on the day of an election, leaving no right of reply for other candidates. 

She said the unregulated nature of social media was a problem, but changes to the law could include a ban on emails and texts to voters on polling day.

``It needs to adapt to modern campaigns,'' Ms Forrest said.

Any changes to the act now fall to newly appointed Attorney-General Dr Goodwin.

``I will seek a report on any issues regarding the Electoral Act that have been identified by the Electoral Commission during the recent state election and I will consider that briefing once I have received it,'' Dr Goodwin said.

Tasmanian Electoral Commissioner Julian Type said any review of the act was a matter for the incoming Parliament, but it was a function of the TEC to provide advice to the Parliament.

``We'd be delighted to provide advice,'' Mr Type said.


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