TWO key Labor Party figures involved in the sting that exposed Liberal Party members handing out bogus leaflets in the Lindsay electorate have called for a 10-fold increase in fines and jail terms for offenders.Senator Steve Hutchins and the assistant general-secretary of the NSW Labor Party, Luke Foley, yesterday told a joint federal committee examining the 2007 election that individuals should be fined $10,000 or face five years’ jail if caught handing out fake flyers in election campaigns. The present fine is $1000.Several men were charged with distributing the phoney leaflets in the marginal western Sydney electorate of the former Liberal MP Jackie Kelly in the days before the election.Carrying a Labor logo, the leaflets purported to come from the non-existent Islamic Federation of Australia and suggested Labor supported terrorism and forgave the Bali bombers.Ms Kelly’s husband, Gary Clark, was convicted in April this year of breaking election laws and Greg Chijoff, who was married to the failed Liberal candidate for Lindsay, Karen Chijoff, also pleaded guilty to the offence.In response to the scandal, the Federal Parliament’s electoral matters committee is examining whether the maximum penalty of a $1000 fine is tough enough. Senator Hutchins and Mr Foley told the inquiry that such measures would be the only way to really deter people.The Australian Electoral Commission’s chief legal officer, Paul Pirani, also told the inquiry the maximum penalty of $1000 had been set 16 years ago and needed updating.”The $1000 has not changed,” Mr Pirani told the committee. ”Yes, the AEC would support a view, a recommendation, that the level of the penalties should be reviewed and should be increased to make them up to date and reflect modern circumstances.”Mr Pirani said tougher penalties would be a deterrent, but the biggest problem was identifying who was responsible for unauthorised material. He said the Lindsay incident was one of three cases referred to the federal police during the 2007 election campaign.
Nanjing Night Net

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