Anyone that has been in and around Canberra during the last few ACT legislative assembly elections will recall seeing the streets littered with signs of candidates trying to out-do each other.
Think back and remember how ridiculous it got. The current use of signs in ACT elections has reached peak-silliness!
Around the time of the most recent election, a few friends and I ran some informal polls to see what people thought about the signs. The majority of responses boiled down to a few simple phrases…
- don’t like them
- wish someone would do something about them
Not one to let an opportunity to help out my local community go unanswered…
On behalf of all ACT residents, maybe yourself, who saw the election signs and found themselves thinking “excessive”, “stupid”, “wasteful”, “messy”, “dangerous”, “anti-social”, “eyesore”, “ineffective”, “disparity”, “inequality”, “abuse-of-position”, “entitlement-mentality”… a petition has been started to urge the ACT Legislative Assembly to make a change.
Interestingly, when we were researching this idea, we discovered that there is a section in the applicable legislation, known as the Code of Practice for Movable Signs, that actually deals with the number of signs people can use in the ACT.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that there are restrictions on most people in the community. Businesses, real estate agents, and community groups have strict limits on the number of signs they are allowed to use.
What might be surprising however is that the politicians have given themselves a special section in the code of practice that lifts all restrictions for themselves. That’s right, legislative assembly candidates wishing to spruik themselves have absolutely no restrictions on the number of signs they can put up, for six weeks prior to the election.
In fairness, it is important for candidates to be able to let the community know that they are up for election. Having our future representatives let us know about themselves and what they stand for is critical to a well-functioning democratic society. Even so, the following arguments are worth considering:
- it should be a level playing field for all candidates;
- the rest of the community shouldn’t end up dealing with the collateral damage of the ‘core-flute-sign arms race’ that ramps up every election cycle;
- politicians should treat themselves equally to the rest of the community when it comes to restrictions on the numbers of signs that can be used in the ACT.
The full URL for anyone wishing to view and possibly sign the petition is https://www.change.org/p/reduce-the-number-of-act-election-signs.