Open Letter: 39 Prominent Australians Call for Truth in Political Advertising Laws

39 prominent Australians have signed an open letter co-ordinated by the Australia Institute, calling on Parliament to pass truth in political advertising laws that are nationally consistent, constitutional and uphold freedom of speech.

Signatories to the open letter include Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, former political party leaders and politicians from all sides of politics, including Dr Carmen Lawrence, Dr John Hewson and Cheryl Kernot, retired judges The Hon David Harper and The Hon Anthony Whealy, as well as academics, barristers, community leaders, business people and other prominent Australians.

The open letter coincides with Zali Steggall introducing a Truth in Political Advertising Bill into the House of Representatives, and the Australia Institute has also released a briefing paper on truth in political advertising with new polling research showing nine in 10 Australians support truth in political advertising laws.

Key Details:

  • Nine in 10 Australians (87%) say Australia should pass truth in political advertising laws
  • Overwhelming majority support across all political persuasions, with 87% of Coalition, 88% of Labor, 82% of Greens and 87% of One Nation voters say Australia should pass truth in political advertising laws
  • 39 prominent Australians have signed the open letter, which calls for truth in political advertising laws that are nationally consistent, constitutional and uphold freedom of speech

“Any genuine attempt to clean up our politics must begin with a commitment to truth telling. Truth in campaign ads is an important beginning,” said Dr John Hewson, former Opposition Leader and Honorary Professorial Fellow at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

“It remains absolutely unacceptable that an election’s outcome can be decided by deliberately deceptive political advertising,” said Cheryl Kernot, Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact, and former Democrats leader.

“Recent election campaigns have seen heated accusations of misleading advertising from all sides, undermining the public’s trust in politics,” said Bill Browne, Senior Researcher at the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for politicians to be honest and transparent and the serious consequences of public distrust and disengagement.

“Last year, the ACT passed truth in political advertising laws unanimously, with Labor, Liberal and Greens politicians working together. It is time for the Parliament of Australia to follow their lead,” Mr Browne said.

Attachments

Open letter here

Full briefing paper here

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