Clive Palmer on the campaign trail.
Clive Palmer on the campaign trail.

Palmer United and Libs under investigation over election

THE Palmer United Party and Tasmanian Liberal Party are under investigation for potentially breaching the state's electoral act, just days out from Tasmania's election this Saturday.

As the state prepares for the hotly contested poll, Tasmanian Electoral Commissioner Julian Type confirmed both parties were under investigation by the commission.

He told APN Newsdesk the investigation, sparked by public complaints, would examine three potential breaches of the state's electoral act, related to use of candidates names or images in political material without written consent.

Mr Type said the investigation related to one "hand-bill or pamphlet" produced by Fairfax MP Clive Palmer's political party, a further newspaper advertisement by PUP, and a second advertisement from the Liberal Party.

While he could not comment on the direction of the investigation, he said the maximum penalties for such breaches included fines of up $39,000 or one year's imprisonment.

"This provision of the electoral act and its precursor has been involved in two prosecutions in this century, one of which dates back beyond a decade," he said.

Clive Palmer accused of breaking the law with cheeky ads

"I'm not expecting any resolution prior to polling day on Saturday, and in any event, a conviction does not have any flow-on effect in relation to candidacy at the Tasmanian Parliament."

While Tasmanian politicians can lose their seat if convicted of offences that carry more than one year's jail, the related penalties do not exceed 12 months, and would not legally jeopardise any candidate's seats.

Mr Type said although he was not a constitutional lawyer, it was unlikely that a court would even impose the maximum penalty for such an offence.

However, if Mr Palmer were convicted under the state electoral laws, possibly as party leader authorising the documents' production, he could potentially lose his seat in the Federal Parliament.

Both Mr Palmer and his Tasmanian Senator-elect Jacquie Lambie have denied any involvement in authorising the political material.

Tasmanian Liberal Party state director Sam McQuestin said in a statement that after the PUP advertisement was published, he completed a review of the Liberal Party's advertising material.

As a result, he said he discovered PUP candidate Kevin Morgan's name was "inadvertently contained" in two footnotes on advertisements published a week ago.

"This was an oversight. A similar version of this advertisement, containing Mr Morgan's name, had quite properly run prior to the issue of the writs," he said.

"Following the issue of the writs, the body of the advertisement was altered to remove Mr Morgan's name. Regrettably, the footnotes were overlooked."

Mr McQuestin said he advised Mr Type of the oversight, "took full responsibility for this oversight and apologised for it".

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