Nine Out Of 10 Aussies In Favour Of Laws Mandating Truth In Political Advertising

Nine Out Of 10 Aussies In Favour Of Laws Mandating Truth In Political Advertising
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Public policy think-tank The Australia Institute has released a poll revealing that nine out of 10 Australians are in favour of legislation that would require truth in political advertising.

According to the Possible, Practical, and Popular: Opportunities for Truth in Political Advertising Laws in Australia report, “truth in political advertising laws are extremely popular. Not only do they enjoy support from all sides of politics, they are also supported by a staggering 87 per cent  of Australians.”

Support is present across parties, with 87 per cent of Coalition voters, 88 per cent of Labor voters, 82 per cent of Greens voters and 87 per cent of One Nation voters supporting truth in political advertising laws.

The report’s publication coincided with the introduction of a private members bill in parliament, Independent MP Zali Steggall’s ‘Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Stop The Lies) Bill’.

According to Steggall, “public trust in politicians has been eroded over time and some of that erosion is due to their ability to lie in political ads.”

Both Steggall and the Australia Institute point to state legislation that mandates truth in political advertising. In South Australia, laws to this nature have been in effect since the 1980s, and in ACT, similar laws were introduced last year.

A draft of the Bill published by the ABC reads:

“A person must not print, publish or distribute, or cause, permit or authorize to be printed, published or distributed, electoral matter if the electoral matter contains a statement in relation to a matter of fact (including an implied statement) that is: (a) misleading or deceptive to a material extent; or (b) likely to mislead or deceive to a material extent.”

As well as the report, the Australia Institute also released an open letter signed by 39 prominent Australians, including former political party leaders, Supreme Court judges, barristers, academics and sportspeople, calling for truth in political advertising laws to be passed.

The report points to instances of misleading content by a number of political parties, including a 2014 Facebook post by the Labor party about a new code of conduct around free-range eggs, and a series of ads by the Liberal Party in 2017 about how much money households would save on the Party’s energy plan.

This year, former Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who is the federal parliamentary leader of the Clive Palmer’s United Australia party, had his Facebook page banned after it breached the platform’s misinformation rules.

Kelly has also come under fire for a text message campaign that presented information about COVID-19 vaccines in a way that was “seriously misleading”, according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Featured Image: iStock/simplehappyart

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