Federal MPs Josh Frydenberg and Gladys Liu have kept their seats after a challenge to their May election wins was dismissed in Federal Court.
Federal MPs Josh Frydenberg and Gladys Liu have kept their seats after a challenge to their May election wins was dismissed in Federal Court.

Frydenberg and Liu keep seats after poll challenge dismissed

A legal challenge against the election of two sitting federal coalition MPs due to Chinese language signage has been dismissed, but a former Liberal party director could still face action.

The cases against Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Victorian Liberal MP Gladys Liu were dismissed in the Court of Disputed Returns on Tuesday.

However, former Liberal party director Simon Frost must show reasons why the court shouldn't refer him to the High Court for breaches of electoral rules.

Josh Frydenberg and Gladys Liu's election wins in May were challenged over purple and white Chinese language signs telling voters in Kooyong and Chisholm the "correct" way to vote is to put the Liberal Party first.

Their results were challenged by failed Kooyong candidate Oliver Yates and climate campaigner Vanessa Garbett, who argued the corflutes were likely to mislead or deceive voters.

They argued in a three-day trial last month that the Liberal Party signage was designed to mirror the Australian Electoral Commission's signage The challengers' lawyer Lisa De Ferrari acknowledged voiding the MPs' election was a "drastic measure" but said the signs were a "public wrong of some great importance".

Liberal Member for Chisholm Gladys Liu and federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Picture: AAP
Liberal Member for Chisholm Gladys Liu and federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Picture: AAP

Former Victorian Liberal Party director Simon Frost was quizzed during the trial and admitted under questioning by Ms De Ferrari that the signs were intended to give the impression it was an AEC corflute.

But he said the signs, written in both simplified and traditional Chinese script, were different to the translation that had been approved by the party. "The translation was not as I had given," he said.

Lawyers for the electoral commission said the idea that voters could be so "gullible and naive" to believe Australia was a one-party state was "an outlandish proposition".

He added that the proportion of voters in Kooyong and Chisholm who spoke only Mandarin or Cantonese was too small to have affected the election outcome.

Ms Liu beat her Labor challenger by about 1000 votes while Mr Frydenberg was re- elected with a 5.7 per cent margin.

Justice Andrew Greenwood, one of three hearing the case, questioned how they could overturn Mr Frydenberg's election with that margin.

He said even if Chinese-speakers in Kooyong changed their vote Mr Frydenberg would still have won by 4329 votes.

The judgment was handed down in the Federal Court in Sydney today.