The ACT Greens have called on the ACT Government to ban roadside electoral signs, a year out from the 2020 Legislative Assembly elections.
They say with no limit to the number of roadside electoral campaign signs (principally the signs on stakes known as corflutes) that can be used in the ACT, thousands of the plastic signs flood the streets of Canberra six weeks out from polling day, only to end up in landfill once they are eventually cleared from roadsides.
Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur says many Canberrans view roadside electoral signs as annoying and distracting, and add nothing to the election debate.
“There are far more effective ways for political parties to get their message across without visual pollution cluttering up our public space,” she said.
“To make matters worse, there is currently no limit on how many signs can be displayed in any one area. If you’re driving along and there are dozens of election signs along the roads, it’s both annoying and distracting for drivers.
“Many of the signs are largely policy-free – it’s not as though they are informative. It’s time to get rid of these annoying electoral signs. They’re a huge turn off for the community and are a huge waste of plastic.”
The Greens said the ACT Electoral Commission’s report on the Legislative Assembly Election in 2016 noted that social media “indicated a relatively widespread degree of dissatisfaction with the proliferation of campaign signs (principally the signs on stakes known as corflutes) across Canberra’s main roads and suburban streets” – but stopped short of recommending that the roadside electoral signs be banned entirely.
At the last federal election in May 2019, the Greens did not use roadside electoral signage; instead, corflutes were displayed in private yards or held by volunteers for limited times.
This avoided the waste of thousands of plastic corflutes being destroyed, often within hours of being erected, the party said.
Of the corflutes that the Greens do use, these ended up being recycled as house insulation, building chooks sheds, as habitat for local wombats or painted over for protest signs.
The Transport Canberra and City Services rules say signs are only covered by the Movable Signs Code, which the Government can change without legislation, for 48 hours after the official election day and must be removed within 48 hours of the close of the polling booths.
They can be placed on unleased Territory Land but not at roundabouts, median strips of roads, within 20 metres of traffic lights, on residential nature strips, or within 20 metres of a corner of an intersection.
They cannot be placed in designated areas of the National Capital without the expressed approval from the National Capital Authority.
The proposal comes after the Greens proposed in September to establish a truth in electoral advertising scheme to stop factually incorrect electoral material and claims during local elections.
Canberrans go to the polls on 17 October 2020.