Graeme Orr on push polling 24 June 2007
I'm 99% sure 'push-polling' is not illegal, though it is in breach of some non-enforceable 'industry' codes of conduct. George Williams wrote a legal brief on it about a decade ago:
Even push polling that implied a candidate was a rapist would not be illegal, since the repeal of s 350 of the CEA. (It might be defamatory, ie civilly but not criminally unlawful but pre-election injunctions would be almost impossible to win.)
NT and SA have 'truth in electoral advertising' laws for their elections. But even there you'd have to prove the 'push' contained a statement purporting to be one of fact. As I understand it, clever pushers hedge their statements in the subjunctive ('If you heard X was a rapist...') although a smart judge might see through that. The second problem is such laws only apply to 'advertising'. It may be difficult to prove a survey was 'advertising' when it is cloaked as a poll or canvassing.