Libs clamp on send-ups

The West Australian - - NEWS - Nick But­terly

The WA Lib­eral Party is ask­ing chil­dren to sign ex­tra­or­di­nary “ta­lent re­lease” forms that seek to ban peo­ple from crit­i­cis­ing or satiris­ing the party in pub­lic, or in pri­vate, for five years.

The forms, which it is un­der­stood were handed out by a Fed­eral Lib­eral MP’s staff to sev­eral chil­dren be­fore a re­cent com­mu­nity event, also ef­fec­tively seek to ban sig­na­to­ries from as­so­ci­at­ing with other po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

Forms ob­tained by The Week­end West warn the “ta­lent” that on sign­ing the pa­pers they agree they shall not for five years “in pub­lic or in pri­vate, dis­par­age the Lib­eral Party of Aus­tralia, satirise the ta­lent’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the Lib­eral Party” or oth­er­wise make “any state­ment which might rea­son­ably be ex­pected to ad­versely af­fect the im­age” of the Lib­er­als.

The forms de­mand that on sign­ing, the per­son agree never to al­low their im­age to be used by an­other ma­jor po­lit­i­cal party — com­pli­cat­ing any as­so­ci­a­tion with an MP who is not a Lib­eral.

“The ta­lent agrees . . . that the ta­lent shall not from five years from the date of this agree­ment ap­pear or fea­ture in any other ad­ver­tis­ing or pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial re­lat­ing to Aus­tralian po­lit­i­cal party or as­so­ci­a­tion other than the Lib­eral Party,” the form says. The form is au­tho­rised by WA Lib­eral State di­rec­tor Sam Cal­abrese.

All po­lit­i­cal par­ties use im­age re­lease forms for pub­lic events, where mem­bers of the pub­lic are some­times asked to give con­sent for their im­age to be used in party cam­paign ma­te­rial such as mail-outs or ad­ver­tise­ments.

But con­sent forms used by other par­ties typ­i­cally ask sig­na­to­ries to sim­ply agree to the re­lease of their im­age and do not at­tempt to im­pose re­stric­tions over ex­press­ing their views.

Fig­ures from other par­ties said it was un­heard of to try to prevent some­one from ex­press­ing po­lit­i­cal views “in pri­vate”.

Mr Cal­abrese stood by the word­ing of the forms, say­ing it showed how se­ri­ously the party took the is­sue of the use of per­sonal im­agery.

“The forms are de­signed for par­ents/guardians to sign on be­half of mi­nors and sign­ing is, of course, op­tional,” he said.

Perth lawyer Tom Percy ques­tioned whether the agree­ments were en­force­able.

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