News National More strife for Gladys Liu as election signage challenge goes to High Court

More strife for Gladys Liu as election signage challenge goes to High Court

gladys liu josh frydenberg court
These election signs in the Melbourne electorate of Chisholm were the subject of the court challenge. Photo: Twitter
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Liberal MP Gladys Liu’s election victory will be challenged in the High Court on Wednesday, amid calls to overturn the election result over “misleading and deceptive” Chinese language signs.

The Chinese-born MP, who has faced claims she was a member of organisations linked to Communist-backed foreign influence operations, is strongly backed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who dismissed the claims against her as “a smear”.

But the PM’s wafer-thin majority could be tested with a by-election in Ms Liu’s seat of Chisholm if the High Court agrees to uphold the challenge.

She won the seat by just 1000 votes.

Gladys Liu has faced scrutiny over her links to Chinese government-affiliated organisations.

The legal challenge relates to Chinese signs the Liberal Party used outside polling booths on election day that were prepared in the same purple and white colours of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

“The right way to vote on the green ballot paper – fill in 1 next to the candidate of the Liberal Party and fill in the numbers from smallest to largest in the rest of the boxes,” the signs stated.

The High Court hearing is a legal directions hearing and Ms Liu is not required to appear in person.

In Chisholm, the petitioner is Leslie Hall, who said she was concerned the AEC allowed deliberately misleading statements in a foreign language to be provided to people who might not fully understand electoral processes.

Her lawyer Michael Bradley had previously claimed the case raises critical questions for democracy.

“The law in this area is very narrow. We don’t have a guarantee of truth in political advertising,” he said.

Labor officials remain sceptical of the likely success of the challenge, which was lodged by a failed candidate Oliver Yates and a local constituent, predicting that even if the High Court finds the signs were misleading, it is unlikely to overturn the election result.

Ms Liu has faced further fundraising dramas this week after she was forced to cancel an event because it was held in her electorate office, which is against the rule.

The $80-a-head cocktail party has been cancelled and she has also withdrawn from a planned speech to the Sydney Institute.

On Monday, The New Daily revealed that a company Ms Liu worked for, Brighsun, was behind a mystery $105,000 donation to the Liberal Party.

The Chinese investors paid the six-figure sum at a 2015 auction and emerged as the winning bidders of an intimate dinner with then PM Malcolm Turnbull.

However, the dinner never occurred due to a “scheduling” issue.

The cash was never refunded, with the Liberal Party pocketing the cash.

In a separate challenge, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is facing a section 44 citizenship challenge over “offensive” claims about the citizenship of his mother.

His mother, a survivor of the Holocaust, migrated to Australia after World War II.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is facing a separate section 44 citizenship challenge.

The Treasurer has consistently stated his mother, Erica Strausz, who arrived in Australia as a seven-year-old, had papers marked “stateless”.

Her family was sent to the Budapest ghetto by Hungarian fascists, and she and her family eventually came to Australia in a displaced persons camp.

The deputy Liberal leader provided new information about his mother’s citizenship status shortly before the May 18 election.

In that updated document, Mr Frydenberg revealed his mother did not lose her Hungarian citizenship until 1948 – nearly three years after the end of World War II – despite claims she was stripped of it by the Nazis when she was born in the ghetto.

Mr Morrison slammed reports at the time as hysterical and “offensive”.

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