The Morrison government has made changes to regulations on electoral allowances, which will now include radio and television advertisements.
The changes were welcomed with open arms by the commercial radio industry, who considered the restrictions to be “outdated”, “inequitable” and “discriminatory”.
Commercial Radio Australia chief executive officer Joan Warner said: “The radio industry applauds the non-partisan modernisation of an out of date regulation.
“This is a move that now allows all parliamentarians to communicate their messages on live and local radio.
“This is just one of a number of old rules that, until now, hadn’t kept pace with the current media landscape and that explicitly discriminated against local radio stations.
“This will be a welcome change for MPs and senators from all sides of politics who had been able to use this annual allowance on newspapers, direct mail, outdoor and global digital giants such as Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter but were banned from using local radio.
“This is especially important in regional Australia where radio is live and hyperlocal”.
The funds are annual allocations, not linked to elections, and the radio industry is encouraging all sides of politics to support the lifting of the ban, which now allows local radio stations to be considered as an option for communications by all members of parliament.
Special Minister of State Alex Hawke announced the alterations, saying: “Currently parliamentarians can spend money communicating with constituents on social media, sending money offshore to companies like Facebook in Ireland, but they can’t spend it on television and radio in Australia”.
Labor expressed opposition to the regulations, contending that no more taxpayer money should go towards political advertising and promising that none of its MPs would use their office budgets to advertise on TV and radio during the election.
Hawke countered that the previous rules were hamstringing constituents in regional areas, who were not receiving the same access to political messages as people who were located in the city.
“Labor are opposing the rights of disadvantaged communities to receive the same level of communication from their members of parliament that metropolitan communities receive,” Hawke said.