Generation Zero and the Climate Voter Case

Plenty of people will now be aware that there is a court battle around the Climate Voter campaign, being run as a joint project between 6 NGOsincluding Generation Zero.

The High Court hearing happened yesterday.

The legal issue is a little bit confusing, as are its implications for  the campaign, so I’m writing this to clear things up. To start with: the Climate Voter campaign is completely legal, and will continue regardless of the outcome of the case.

The issue is about freedom of speech, and whether our non-partisan issues advocacy should be defined as “election advertising” and subject to a range of bureaucratic rules and regulations.

The case has arisen because the Electoral Commission has the opinion that the Climate Voter campaign counts as ‘election advertising’ under the Electoral Act 1993.

If they are correct, we will have to take a number of steps while promoting Climate Voter, such as recording our expenses and placing details on all of our promotional materials for the campaign. 

For a group such as Generation Zero, who are almost entirely dependent on volunteer work, this extra time expense is significant. But it’s also an important point of principle. Normal “free speech” that talks about issues, and doesn’t promote or oppose particular parties we believe shouldn’t be captured by these rules and regulations.

The decision also has significant consequences for all single-issue campaigns, as they could all be deemed electoral advertising if they have a connection to elections. This could affect future campaigns run by all NGOs involved.

That’s why all six NGOs have agreed to join in challenging the decision.

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