ELECTORAL (REGULATION OF CORFLUTES) AMENDMENT BILL

I am pleased to introduce the Electoral (Regulation of Corflutes) Amendment Bill 2021. This bill amends the Electoral Act 1985 and makes a related amendment to the Local Government Act 1999 to regulate the use of corflutes on public roads. I can see the enthusiasm from the other side. As members are aware, ‘corflute’ is the name given to corrugated polypropylene, a fluted plastic which is lightweight yet rigid. Through election periods across the state we see corflutes posted on Stobie poles, advertising election candidates and being used as A-frames at shopping centres.

I will not go into too much detail as I have raised this in this house previously, but corflutes are detrimental to the environment as there are limited recycling options for them. Polypropylene is not widely recycled, with only two main recycling methods: either mechanical recycling, which is complicated due to concerns around food contact and separating types of plastic; and recycling through chemical methods to break the corflute down. While all political parties encourage their candidates to re-use and recycle corflutes, or repurpose or donate, this is often difficult and sees a continual cycle of new corflutes being printed at each election—except for some, of course, who just recycle the same photograph.

The Hon. V.A. Tarzia interjecting:

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Not the Minister for Police, of course. He has such an attractive face on his posters.

Not only is the corflute detrimental to the environment but attaching corflutes to Stobie poles require cable ties and other fixings that often get cut and left for local wildlife to consume. Earlier this year, South Australia's most significant environment policy came into effect: the government introduced a single-use plastic ban. With the huge success of this policy, I would hope that this bill would receive the full support of the parliament.

Many of these corflutes quite often remain on Stobie poles much longer than anticipated, with candidates and their volunteers not removing them in the required time frame. Local councils have had to follow up to have them taken down. Councils also raised concerns about diminished roadside safety, distracting drivers and the preservation of roadside public amenity.

Corflutes are costly to parties and do little to educate voters about the candidate, their policy or their platform beyond name identification. With modern campaigning methods, corflutes are quickly becoming redundant.

The government appreciates that not all voters will have access to the internet, particularly social media, where much political communication occurs about candidates and policies of the political parties of the day. The government also appreciates that people may need to be reminded of election day and of polling place locations.

So, members, this bill permits a limited number of four corflutes to be exhibited by candidates or groups within 50 metres of an open polling booth. The clause also provides for an exemption to the ban of putting corflutes on roads when those roads are within the 50-metre zone.

Regulations will be made to set out requirements that must be followed in displaying these corflutes. If a candidate authorising the display of a corflute breaches the legislation, they commit an offence, and any person displaying unauthorised corflutes also commits an offence. The presiding officer of a polling booth has broad powers to direct or undertake the removal of corflutes that are exhibited in contravention of the legislation.

The bill also provides that other exceptions to the ban of corflutes on roads are permitted by regulation. It is shame that I am standing here once again debating the removal of corflutes. It is clear to me that the Labor opposition, to date at least, does not care about this issue—

Mr Brown: Why did you vote against it when we introduced it?

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —however, there is always the chance for redemption, and I—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Playford, I have already thrown you out once today. You are called to order.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —appreciate that the Labor opposition could see the clear light of day on this and recognise the impact of corflutes on our environment and the damage they cause. Kangaroo Island is already ahead of us.

In the 1980s, the community and the candidates agreed not to have corflutes at all. Banners continue to be displayed only at polling booths. I note that the member for Waite has also attempted to introduce his own bill—welcome back, member for Waite—to remove corflutes; however, this has not progressed. We all saw the shameful conduct of the opposition in more recent times, to fill up the time for private members and ensure that that bill did not see the light of day.

The community dislikes them, volunteers get caught up in the midnight rush of getting the perfect Stobie pole and plastering faces all over the main roads, and they are intimidating to voters on polling day. We are in the 21st century and it is time for a change. So I commend the bill to members and seek leave to have the explanation of clauses inserted in Hansard without my reading it. I hope the bill progresses through.

Leave granted.

EXPLANATION OF CLAUSES

Part 1—Preliminary

1—Short title

2—Commencement

3—Amendment provisions

These clauses are formal.

Part 2—Amendment of Electoral Act 1985

4—Amendment of section 115—Limitations on display of electoral advertisements

An offence of exhibiting an electoral advertising poster on a public road (including any structure, fixture or vegetation on a public road) during an election period, except in circumstances prescribed by the regulations, is provided for. A definition of electoral advertising poster is inserted—being a poster displaying electoral advertising made of corflute or plastic. The limitations under the section would also apply to posters made of other materials or kinds of materials prescribed by regulation (if any).

5—Amendment of section 125—Prohibition of canvassing near polling booths

Limitations on the number of electoral advertising posters that may be exhibited within 50 metres of an entrance to a polling booth open for polling are provided for. The presiding officer at a polling booth is authorised to remove posters that are not exhibited in accordance with the limitations.

Schedule 1—Related amendment to Local Government Act 1999

1—Amendment of section 226—Moveable signs

Currently, a sign related to a State election may be placed and maintained on a road during an election period without an authorisation or permit under Chapter 11 Part 2 of the Local Government Act 1999. That general exemption in relation to State elections is deleted as a consequence of the insertion of the offence into section 115 of the Electoral Act 1985 by the measure.

An exemption is provided for in relation to a sign that relates to a State election and is an electoral advertising poster that is authorised to be exhibited under section 115(2a) of the Electoral Act 1985 or section 125(1a) and (1b) of that Act (during an election period under that Act) (so that such a sign may be placed and maintained on a road during an election period without an authorisation or permit under Chapter 11 Part 2).

Debate adjourned on motion of Mr Brown.