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Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie accuses Australian Christian Lobby of copyright infringement

By state political reporter Rory McClaren
A pamphlet about Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie produced by the Australian Christian Lobby. (Supplied)

South Australian independent federal MP Rebekha Sharkie is launching legal action against the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) for copyright infringement. 

Ms Sharkie said two flyers produced by the organisation used a photo owned exclusively by her without her permission.

In a letter sent to the organisation today, the Mayo MP has given the ACL until Monday to publicly apologise.

Ms Sharkie also said she believed it was inaccurate and unfair to see herself portrayed by the ACL as attacking Christianity or the church in the materials due to her position on the Religious Discrimination Bill. 

"If the Australian Christian Lobby do not apologise and do not remedy what I feel is wrong, I will be seeking to take further action," Ms Sharkie told ABC News.

The brochure said that Ms Sharkie "voted against protecting people of faith from discrimination and voted to remove laws that protect the value of Christian schools". 

In February, Ms Sharkie joined five Liberal MPs Labor and other independents to vote against the government and extend protections for transgender school students.

"As a Christian, I support protections against discrimination on the grounds of religion, but I will not idly allow this extremist organisation to use my likeness to denigrate the LGBTIQ+ community, people fleeing domestic violence, going through divorce or seeking IVF treatment, Ms Sharkie wrote on social media.

"The views of the far-right ACL are not shared by a long list of religious organisations, including the Uniting Church, Anglican Church, St Vincent de Paul Society and so on."

ACL spokeswoman Wendy Francis said the organisation had not received any correspondence from Ms Sharkie.

"The photo of Rebekha Sharkie used on the ACL flyer is publicly available online in many places, including on the ABC election website," Ms Francis said.

"ACL has not been provided with any evidence that Ms Sharkie owns the copyright, as distinct from her assertions.

"None of these claims change the integrity of the campaign and its message.

"Ms Sharkie does not want people in her electorate to know that she voted against the Religious Discrimination Bill and moved the amendment to remove protections for faith-based schools."

Rebekha Sharkie (second from left) with now-South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas, Mount Barker Mayor Ann Ferguson and Health Minister Chris Picton ahead of the state election. (ABC News)

Similar brochures and advertising about MPs across Australia feature on the ACL's Facebook page.

Those targeted included Liberals Fiona Martin in Reid, Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney, Dave Sharma in Wentworth and Bridget Archer in Bass, along with independents Zali Steggall in Warringah and Helen Haines in Indi, and Labor MP Anne Aly.

Ms Sharkie's seat of Mayo covers the Adelaide Hills, the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island.

She holds it with a 5.1 per cent margin over the Liberal Party.

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Dive Deeper:
What happens if there is a hung parliament: how would independents approach talks and what is non-negotiable?
Read the full responses from independent candidates and crossbench MPs surveyed
The Ferguson Report: Something shiny this way comes to distract us from the election
The attention span of Australian voters has shrunk to momentary levels due to the price of oh look, there's another…
How Labor wins: where the numbers may fall
What’s going to happen in 10 days? Here’s a look at some likely scenarios, based on a month-long wander around…
Liberal MPs Have Reportedly Said Morrison Is Allowing A Trans Culture War
Speculations are flying that certain Liberals have been deliberately spreading transphobic views during the federal election campaign to divide voters…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Another miracle? Here’s how the PM can still win the election
The election could be slipping away from the government. But here’s how Scott Morrison can still win.
Paul Fletcher used PCYC’s endorsement ‘without permission’ on election flyers, youth charity claims
Flier quotes president of PCYC NSW’s Hornsby branch describing communications minister as ‘friendly and professional’
Get all your news in one place