We Can Handle the Truth: Proven and Popular Political Advertising Laws Required

New research from The Australia Institute shows that the vast majority of Australians (84%) support the introduction of rigorous truth in political advertising laws, which could force untruthful claims to be removed or retracted during election campaigns or see political parties that breach the law hit with fines or reductions in their public funding.

That is the finding contained in a wide-ranging report released by the Australia Institute today that explores truth in political advertising models and remedies.

In the report ‘We can handle the truth’, Australia Institute researcher Bill Browne examines truth in political advertising models that are already being used in jurisdictions such as New Zealand and South Australia as well as some limited, de-facto models that operate or have operated in the private sector. The reports suggests similar laws should be enacted at a national level.

“Truth in political advertising laws are popular with the Australian people and could help to preserve the integrity of our democratic process,” said Ben Oquist, Executive Director of The Australia Institute.

“The public should be able to have confidence in what they see and hear during Australian elections which, unless action is taken, risk sliding into fake-news free-for-alls.

“Decisions about what constitutes the truth may be fraught, but this reform has been achieved in other jurisdictions and these sorts of considerations are already routinely made by companies and regulators under consumer law.

“A thorough consideration of various truth in political advertising models should be undertaken before the specific laws can finally be implemented at a Federal level.

“The time is ripe for a nationally consistent approach that is constitutional and upholds free speech, but also brings a measure of fairness and accountability to the political process.”

The report is available for download here.

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