Too few Chinese voters for election to have hinged on sign, judge says

“What you want us to do is say notwithstanding that case, taken at its highest, accepting everything, we should declare Mr Frydenberg not elected,” Justice Andrew Peter Greenwood told the challengers’ lawyer Lisa De Ferrari, SC, on Friday.

“How can we possibly do that?”

Gladys Liu with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

It came after the MPs’ lawyers said neither challenger could show even a single Chinese-speaking voter complained about being misled by the purple and white signs.

The Liberals had earlier admitted the signs were deliberately created in the same colours used by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Despite the “dramatic” admission by former Victorian Liberal Party director Simon Frost, there was no suggestion he had misled or sought to mislead voters in casting their ballots, Philip Solomon, QC, said.

But for the colours, the signs and AEC banners looked nothing like each other, the lawyer argued.

He conceded the former could have been “more obviously partisan” but said Labor had used purple signs in a previous Bennelong by-election.

Mr Solomon added it was “laughable” that Chinese-speaking voters had arrived at polling booths “steeled to vote one way” but then “determined that they were being commanded when casting their ballot to vote for the Liberal Party”.


Regardless of this, there simply were not enough voters in either seat who only spoke Chinese to have affected the outcomes, the lawyer said.

Mr Frydenberg came out of the May 18 poll with a 5.7 per cent margin and Ms Liu beat Labor by about 1000 votes.

The three judges hearing the case have reserved their decision.

Meanwhile, the federal Greens have referred the Victorian Liberals to the federal police over the signage.

It came after a “clear admission that they were trying to impersonate a Commonwealth body,” Greens Senator McKim said on Friday.


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