Truth in Political Advertising: Its Time Has Come

The Australia Institute welcomes the ALP Campaign Review recommendation for “truth in political advertising legislation based on the South Australian model be investigated and pursued in the Australian Parliament” (pp 64).

In the Australia Institute’s submission to JSCEM highlighted the South Australian model as a demonstration of how Truth in Political Advertising legislation currently works in other jurisdictions, and noted that there is clear appetite for nation-wide laws, with 84% of Australians supporting truth in political advertising laws – a result which held across all political persuasions.

There is now emerging cross-party support among the Greens and other crossbenchers for truth in political advertising, following recommendations from Independent MP Zali Steggall and Liberal Party MP Jason Falinski in their joint submission to JSCEM which recommended: “In order for Australia to keep up with international best practice and build confidence in our democratic systems we strongly urge that the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters investigates options to ensure truth in political advertising.”

“Without action and regulation we risk a democratic crisis, and election campaigns risk sliding into a free-fall of fake news,” said Ben Oquist, Executive Director of the Australia Institute.

“Our research shows the vast majority of Australians support truth in political advertising laws, and it is encouraging to see emerging support across political lines.

“While it is certainly a good starting point, the South Australian model needs improving and other models should also be considered.

“Notions of truth can be difficult, however, it should be in the interest of all parties for rules that ensure that political expression is robust, fair and truthful. Truth in political advertising laws would enable the public to have more confidence in what they were seeing.”

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