Victorian Electoral Matters Committee Recommend Adoption of Truth in Political Advertising Laws

The Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program welcomes the Victorian Electoral Matters Committee’s recommendation for Victoria to adopt truth in political advertising laws, with the Australia Institute’s submission to the inquiry cited extensively in the committee report published today.

Key Facts:

  • Since March 2020, the Victorian Parliament’s Electoral Matters Committee has looked into the impact of social media on elections and election administration.
  • The final report, including 70 findings and 33 recommendations, was published today.
  • Recommendations include:
    • laws for truth in political advertising,
    • laws against impersonating the electoral commission or another party or candidate,
    • funding for independent fact-checking during election periods, and
    • comprehensive libraries for online ads.

“The Electoral Matters Committee’s recommendation for truth in political advertising laws should be taken up by the Victorian Government,” said Bill Browne, Senior Researcher at the Democracy & Accountability Program.

“Australia Institute research finds that 88% of Victorians support truth in political advertising laws at the national level. Support is likely to be equally high for state-level laws.

“A majority of Victorians support penalties for misleading political advertising, including fines, retractions and losing some or all public funding.

“The committee has given serious thought to the problems posed by online misinformation and disinformation, and made effective, pragmatic recommendations on how to address them.

“While election campaigning by its very nature will always be strong and robust, it should not be perfectly legal to lie in a political advertisement.

“Political advertisements that are deceptive and misleading interfere with the public’s ability to make informed decisions. Without action and regulation, we risk a democratic crisis and election campaigns risk sliding into a free-fall of fake news.

“Voters are entitled to the truth when they go to the polls on election day.”

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