Major parties flout rules over signage in Bega Valley

Election signage has become a hot topic especially for the Sapphire Coast branch of the Labor Party whose representatives have spoken with Bega Valley Shire Council about Liberal Party signs they believe to be oversized and illegal.

However Dr Alice Howe director community, environment and planning at council said complaints had been made by both Labor and Liberal representatives.

"We've had heaps of complaints but mainly they have been from the opposing parties," Dr Howe said.

She said council had removed some signage where it was screwed into trees or considered dangerous and that both Labor and Liberal parties were affected.

Signs must not be screwed into trees or put on electricity poles.

Ian Armstrong, Essential Energy's community relations manager, southern confirmed the Bega depot had been notified of some instances where posters had been placed on poles and had been removed.

Under the Electricity Supply Act and Graffiti Control Act, attaching signs to power poles or other electrical infrastructure is illegal, Mr Armstrong added.

"Essential Energy encourages candidates who have installed signs on electrical infrastructure to contact us on 13 20 80 to arrange for the safe removal of the signs," he said.

Election signage is permissible on private land without development consent. Signs elsewhere need a DA.

Dr Howe said that signs should be less than 0.8sqm, a regulation that a number of local signs appear to have flouted.

Most prominent across the shire are those of the Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs - particularly one adorning the old Woolworth building in Merimbula. However, there are also banner-sized election signs for Labor's Mike Kelly and the Nationals' candidate Sophie Wade, all larger than the permitted 0.8sqm.

Whether all the signs in question have appropriate DA approval is unknown at this stage.

"In relation to council managed public land, council does not permit electoral signage of any sort on any land other than pre-poll and polling locations determined by the Australian Electoral Commission. I have written to all candidates advising them of their responsibilities in relation to signage on council land, and advising that council may remove signage installed on that land. We are endeavouring to remove signage on council managed land, subject to available resources," Dr Howe said in a response to the local Labor party.

There have been questions raised about a Liberal party sign situated at the southern end of Pambula on the Princes Highway.

Dr Howe said the Princes Highway was not within council's jurisdiction as it is the responsibility of the NSW Roads and Maritime Service.

The Bega Valley is not isolated in this flouting of AEC regulations. Similar concerns have been raised in the Queanbeyan-Palerang council area where it's reported more than 100 signs have been removed by council rangers.