I’m very proud to second this motion from the member for Warringah.
Currently under Australian law, it’s perfectly legal to lie in a political advertisement. This Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2021 will change that.
This bill that I’m proud to second today bans inaccurate or misleading political advertisements during election campaigns. All Australians will know the type of ads I’m talking about; all the big political parties do it. As the member for Warringah has just talked about, whether it was the Liberal Party’s totally baseless claims that Labor would introduce a death tax in the 2019 election, or the Labor Party’s overblown ‘mediscare’ campaign against the Liberals in the 2016 election, Australians deserve better than to be bombarded with nonsense and lies during our elections and, with an election coming up this is an important reform.
Right now, the political parties can say almost anything they like about their opponents with no requirement that they even tell the truth. In a public health crisis, when we have seen deliberate misinformation spread by various political actors, this becomes literally life-and-death stuff.
Most Australians would be shocked to learn that it’s perfectly legal for politicians to lie in their ads, to spin any old tale for the sake of a vote. People hate this stuff. People hate this kind of grubby, low, deceptive politics, and it is not what democracy is supposed to be about. Our governments should not be elected based on their skill in crafting compelling lies on social media. Australians deserve a political system that they can trust to tell them the truth. Eighty-seven per cent of the electorate agree that truth in political advertising laws should be passed.
This bill bring political advertising up to the standards that businesses are held to and, importantly, the provisions of this bill have been tried and tested in legislation that’s been in place in South Australia for over 20 years and were adopted by the ACT last year. This is a proven model and, frankly, it’s quite revealing that no side of politics has seen fit to implement these laws at the federal level. Once again, it falls to the Independents to do the work of drafting sensible legislation that would help clean up our politics.
I commend the member for Warringah for doing the work of bringing this bill to the parliament. Really and truly, we should all get behind and pass this bill.