The 2020 local council elections feature some unique challenges. However, the LGI’s role to investigate perceived non-compliance with the Local Government Act 2020 remains unchanged.
With more campaigning now taking place online, the authorisation requirements for social and digital media are a frequent concern with complainants. The VEC’s candidate handbook states:
“All electoral material posted to social media (including platforms like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, and other social media sites) must carry or directly link to an authorisation statement”.
Furthermore, a collection of authorisation examples using popular digital media platforms is now available on the LGI website. This list cannot be exhaustive, so candidates and other participants are urged to refer to sections 287 of the 2020 Act for further reference.
Candidates, commentators and other participants in local council elections should also be aware that any written or oral statements containing electoral matter that are deemed false or misleading may also be considered to breach section 288 of the Act.
In addition to complying with the legal requirements specified in the Local Government Act, candidates should also be aware of the many safety regulations that are currently in place around Victoria. Elections should always be carried out safely and any campaign activities that constitute a risk to people or property may result in legal action.
Local Government Victoria have published Safe Campaigning Guidelines for both metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria and all candidates and their campaign teams should familiarise themselves with these guidelines along with any additional state-wide or local safety regulations.
The Inspectorate can't investigate breaches of COVID-19 restrictions as they are not covered by the Local Government Act. For information on the current restrictions, visit the Victorian Government's coronavirus website.