Australians Demand Truth in Political Advertising

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Australians have the right to decide how to vote based on trustworthy information about a candidate or party’s policies, platform and values. During the last campaign it was clear that much of the campaign advertising was anything but trustworthy.

Federal legislation for truth in political ads was signed into law in 1983 [1] but repealed in 1984 on the basis that its scope was so broad as to be unworkable.

Nonetheless, a 1997 parliamentary report [2] concluded that amended legislation along similar lines to South Australia’s law  (section 113 of South Australia’s Electoral Act 1985) could be workable and is desirable.

The report concludes:

“Though any provision mandating truth in political advertising will be difficult to enforce, its wider impact upon the political culture should not be discounted. Such legislation has the potential to have a powerful impact in shaping political ethics and campaigning practices in Australia.”

As consumers we expect and demand that the information we receive when deciding whether to buy a product is reasonably accurate. I ask all Australians to join me in demanding that the information we receive when deciding how to vote, whether it is published in print media, on television, or via paid advertisements on social media platforms, is at least as trustworthy as the product ads we see on TV.

Mary-Anne Cosgrove
ACT Humanist Society


[1] Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act 1983, Section 116(2).

[2] Truth in Political Advertising Legislation in Australia
Research Paper 13 1996-97
George Williams
Law and Bills Digest Group

Photo courtesy Australian Electoral Commission, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia license.