Senior Liberal: “Double agent” Gladys Liu election signage dodgy

Via the ABC:

A senior Victorian Liberal Party figure has admitted in court that Chinese-language signs used in May’s federal election in two Melbourne seats were designed to convey the appearance of official electoral commission material.

The Court of Disputed Returns — sitting in the Federal Court in Melbourne for the next three days — is being asked to unseat Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his Victorian Liberal colleague Gladys Liu for allegedly misleading voters during the election.

The case centres on election signs, known as corflutes, which resembled official signs from the Australian Election Commission (AEC) and told voters in Chinese script to give their first preference to the Liberal candidates.

The signs were posted at 13 polling stations in Mr Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong and at 29 polling booths in nearby Chisholm, which was won by Ms Liu.

They were authorised by the Liberal Party and the party’s then-acting Victorian director, Simon Frost.

During evidence in the Federal Court on Wednesday, Mr Frost admitted the signs did not have Liberal party logos, and were in the colours white and purple, like the colour scheme used by the AEC.

The unsuccessful independent candidate for Kooyong, Oliver Yates, and Chisholm voter Vanessa Garbett have taken the case to court.

Their lawyer, Lisa De Ferrari, cross-examined Mr Frost, who is now a senior advisor to Mr Frydenberg.

“You intended to convey that it was an AEC corflute didn’t you,” Ms De Ferrari said.

“It was similar to the AEC colours, yes,” Mr Frost replied.

“That is a yes then?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

The signs, which were posted during the pre-poll in April and on polling day on May 18, said: “Correct voting method. On the green paper ballot put a ‘1’ next to the Liberal Party candidate.”

Court documents showed there were several versions of the corflutes instructing voters in Chinese of “the right way to vote” or “the correct way to vote”.

Those versions also told electors to put a “1” by the Liberal candidate’s name.

Mr Frost told the Federal Court the signs that were used were not what he approved.

While he knew of concerns about the translations early on election day, the court heard he did not act because he thought it was just political point-scoring by opponents.

The case has asked the court to void the election results in Kooyong and Chisholm, and rule that Mr Frydenberg and Ms Liu were not elected.

“The corflutes were likely to mislead an elector who was able to read Chinese characters into thinking that the AEC was … instructing electors that in order to cast a valid vote, they were required to place the number 1 … next to the Liberal Party candidate,” the court documents stated.

Ms Liu defeated Labor’s Jennifer Yang in the seat of Chisholm by 1,090 votes on a two-party preferred basis — 48,005 votes to 46,915.

Ms Liu was born in Hong Kong and is fluent in Mandarin.

Her victory in Chisholm made her the first Chinese-Australian member of the Federal Parliament.

In the seat of Chisholm, one in five residents claims Chinese ancestry and more than a quarter of the population speak Mandarin or Cantonese.

Ms Garbett’s lawyers have argued the signs made a difference in the electorate where Chinese voters are growing in number, a point Ms Liu’s legal team rejected.

Case relies on ‘nuance’ of English translations, court told

While Mr Frydenberg won his seat easily — 55,159 compared to 43,870 votes for Greens candidate Julian Burnside — he did not win on first preferences.

Mr Yates argued the corflutes caused voters to direct their first and other preferences “in a way that they otherwise would not have done,” a claim Mr Frydenberg has rejected.

The case is being heard by Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice Andrew Greenwood, who have been shown examples of the signs in court.

Ms De Ferrari showed the justices the signs and a real AEC banner.

Neither Mr Frydenberg nor Ms Liu were in court for Monday’s hearing.

Court documents revealed both Mr Frydenberg and Ms Liu say Mr Frost authorised the signs and in fact “intended” the translation to say: “To make your vote count, put a ‘1’ next to the Liberal Party candidate.”

“Mr Frost did not set out to mislead any voter,” both Mr Frydenberg and Ms Liu said in separate court documents.

“Rather, Mr Frost sought to explain to voters who could read Chinese and who were considering voting for the Liberal Party how to do so in a valid way, and also to encourage voters, who had not yet made up their mind, to vote for the Liberal Party.”

Justice Allsop noted the case relied on the “nuance” of English translations of the signs.

Both MPs said they were aware the corflutes were being used, but that they were not the “same” colour scheme as the AEC material, but rather were a “similar” colour scheme.

Ms Liu’s lawyers also argued the section of the law on which Ms Garbett based her case “is not to be construed from the perspective of the naive or the gullible”.

But if it were, “it cannot be countenanced that even a gullible elector reading the corflute would think, having already formed the judgement to vote against the Liberal Party, that she or he must nevertheless put a ‘1’ next to the Liberal Party candidate.”

Electoral authority defends its response

The AEC has been accused of failing to respond to complaints on polling day.

In its response to the claims, the AEC said Ms Garbett failed to say how the corflutes affected the election outcome.

It acknowledged, however, that Chisholm did have a higher percentage of Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking and reading voters.

“It does not follow that the corflutes likely caused such residents … to vote for Ms Liu … when they had previously had no intention to vote for a candidate endorsed by the Liberal Party,” the AEC’s submission said.

“There is … no small incongruity in the notion that an Australian citizen, with even a modicum of familiarity with the country’s democratic tradition, could be misled into thinking that one could only validly cast a vote if one voted for a particular political party.”

The AEC argued that would apply particularly to Chinese voters who were also able to read English.

The case against Ms Liu was initiated by another person who withdrew their application in September, citing concerns about personal safety and retaliation.

Outside court, Mr Yates said he only launched the legal action due to the AEC’s failure to address the issue.

“The AEC’s meant to have the job of ensuring that we have fair and true and honest disclosure at election time, [they’ve] failed dismally and we as citizens should not have to run these cases, but we’re forced to,” he said.

Mr Frydenberg said it would be inappropriate to comment while the matter was before the court.

So, the charming Ms Liu defrauded the ethnic Chinese denizens of Chisolm, as well as refusing to personally endorse Australian foreign policy tenets around China, mumbling alarming things about Hong Kong in the Party Room; courting and channeling money directly opposed to Australian foreign and strategic policy goals into the Government; occupied senior positions in CCP propaganda outfits; used and abused the credibility of parliament house to aid campaigns for CCP control, donated large sums of her “own” cash to buy the Chisolm electorate, then lied about much of it directly into the face of the Australian people.

Peter Dutton once described Sam Dastayari as a “double agent” for far less. Appropriately, he resigned plus answered all questions. How is it that Ms Liu qualifies as a fit and proper person to be in the Australian Parliament when “double agent” Sam Dastayari does not?

She is not. But she holds the Morrison Government’s majority in the palm of her hand so here we are. Once can only wonder what favours she is facilitating for her CCP-associated donors in return.

Houses and Holes

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the fouding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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Comments

    • Come now, this is the un-flushable Liu. With her confected female victim force field and bullet proof jacket of ‘ethnic minority’ teflon, what might be considered politically lethal to the white male is swallowed in one gulp by the new cane toad of Australian politics.

      The trump card held up the silk sleeve is that ethnic minorities can’t be held to the same standard of conduct – as that would be racist. People like Ms Liu only make “mistakes” and get a free kick in the same way that wage theft is only ever a mistake. All she needs to say is that “she has made mistakes and has learned a lot” – wait for that one. It’s coming soon.

      Putting up signage that is misleading in a foreign language is ok as every institution must lower its standards to allow for such “diversity”. Just ask Liz Allen. Our society benefits from signs in Chinese and different cultural expressions of corruption, because they are different and diverse and provide an opportunity for prats to grand-stand about tolerance. To hell with integrity and principle.

      What the lawyers know is that Ms Liu could have used Chinese water torture and slithers of bamboo beneath people’s fingernails as part of her election campaign and still the rusted on radical Left and people like Liz Allen will still sit shoulder to shoulder with the rent-seeking Right as they hand out free passes.

      It is only when this Liu is flushed that Australians can have some confidence that time will eventually be called on the identity politics games that are weakening our sovereignty and public values.

      • I walk by train stations, hidden crevices in CBD alley ways … the smell of urine, the grime that oozes soul destroying despair.. and observe an overwhelming representation of white males, and I think where did their privilege go?

        Old Gladys, well if only these homeless men had the confidence in mediocrity that ethnics and females have in our post-scarcity society.

  1. So, the Liberals baldly concede the corflutes were there to deceive. But the AEC knows better, coming up with the preposterous argument that Chinese-origin migrants, once democratic citizens, are incapable of deception.

    Obviously, the challenge will be thrown out. But I salute Yates and Garbett. Remember, this is the same Liberal party that spread fear among Chinese-origin voters about the terrifying impact of Safe Schools on their princelings.

    I think we can safely conclude that under Tom Rogers, recently reappointed for five years, Morrison has exactly the kind of tame and ineffectual AEC chief that he would like.

  2. “There is … no small incongruity in the notion that an Australian citizen, with even a modicum of familiarity with the country’s democratic tradition, could be misled into thinking that one could only validly cast a vote if one voted for a particular political party.”

    Oh FMD, these people must live on planet Tharg, rather than on Earth.

    On the day of the election, I waited patiently in the queue while an official tried to explain how to vote to an elderly Asian couple who spoke virtually no English. How the fcuk those two foreign relics were citizens I do not know, but they had not the faintest idea what they were doing beyond the fact that The State required them to vote so they’d come to do it so the secret police didn’t come to take them away at 3am.

    If they’d seen one of those purple and white signs produced by The Party that instructed them how to vote correctly in Mandarin then I’m pretty sure they would have followed directions. With a margin of only about a thousand votes in Liu’s electorate, that could have been enough to tip the balance.

    Beyond that, Mr Frost seems to have plainly admitted that the posters (WTAF is a corflute) were intended to deceive, and I have no doubt they were effective in doing so.

    In a righteous world there would be floggings for the guilty and a new election. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world so I imagine the law will do as it normally does…ie the guilty will be praised and promoted and this will all be quickly forgotten.

  3. ““It does not follow that the corflutes likely caused such residents … to vote for Ms Liu … when they had previously had no intention to vote for a candidate endorsed by the Liberal Party,” the AEC’s submission said.” – and AEC totally ignores scores of new Australians from China, who were clearly targeted on this occasion, who were neutral and were to decide who to vote for on the day. Considering how close was the result in that seat the misleading cards clearly could have decided the outcome.

  4. LSWCHP and Nikola raise the real concern – knowing the skullduggery of political parties, it is our institutions that keep the corruption in check. That the AEC sees nothing in this says that our democracy is subverted to that corruption. Ffs, it’s not up to objectors to explain how democracy is subverted. Federal ICAC now.

  5. Jumping jack flash

    So they don’t consider the possibility that New Australian Chinese voters, who can’t, or very badly, speak and read English, would have absolutely no idea what was going on, stumble down to the polling booth in bewilderment, unsure of what actually is happening (because back in China I’m sure they have these kinds of things, don’t they?).

    Then, upon seeing an official-looking sign offering some kind of explanation and direction, there’s no way they then wouldn’t stride forth, slightly more confidently, into the polling place, get their name marked off and cast their vote as “directed” to.

    Given the slightest chance that these new Australians are deeply concerned and affected by the yabbering mouths that are connected with the results of the election.

    No possibility of that scenario at all, then??

  6. the_bystanderMEMBER

    >“It does not follow that the corflutes likely caused such residents … to vote for Ms Liu … when they had previously had no intention to vote for a candidate endorsed by the Liberal Party,” the AEC’s submission said.

    This is the biggest joke of all. I can’t wait for Labor to put up posters next election saying that the Liberals run secret Satanic cults that sacrifice homeless children to their Evil Lord. Or their own AEC posters saying that the ‘correct’ way to vote is to tick 1 ALP. Because I can’t see how this behaviour would have ANY impact on voters, right? They’re all totally rational, well-educated citizens who would NEVER fall for a hoax, right?

    • They are right, it may not have swayed voters who had NO intention of voting Liberal, but it almost certainly swayed voters who were not sure who to vote for AND feared repercussions if not voting “correctly”.

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