30 August, 2021
Independent Zali Steggall MP has released a Private Member’s Bill that will prohibit misleading or deceptive political advertising ahead of the next federal election.
The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Stop the Lies) Bill will be tabled in October, prohibiting misleading or deceptive political advertising.
The Bill is modelled on state legislation from South Australia and the ACT that are both now operational and have captured state-run political advertisements that were considered offensive.
Ms Steggall said the Bill was sorely needed, as currently under Australian law it is perfectly legal to lie in a political ad.
“Public trust in politicians has been eroded over time, some of that erosion is due to their propensity to lie and the lack of accountability,” she said.
“I think this is vitally important for our democracy and over 87% of the Australian public agree that truth in political advertising should be passed.
“There is legislation that prevents misleading and deceptive advertisements by businesses and there are enforcement bodies in place to keep an eye on it. But there is no law or body to stop politicians or third parties from lying about a candidate or their opponent during an election campaign.
“This year we have seen a number of examples of misleading and deceptive advertising including from Members of Parliament and political parties without current representation in the Australian Parliament.
“The amendments proposed have been tried and tested as they are modelled on legislation that has been in place in South Australia for over 20 years and was adopted by the ACT last year. There is both a legislative and a normative preventative effect from this Bill.
“In acknowledgement of the emerging threat posed by technological advances, the amendments also address the issue of deep fakes through the banning of impersonation or passing off a misrepresentation of a candidate.
“There have been examples of technology such as deep fakes being weaponised to distort the political process including during the most recent Queensland election as well as in the US, Belgium and Malaysia, we need to get ahead of this technology and make it clear that it is not permitted in Australian election campaigns,” Ms Steggall said.
Ms Steggall intends to table the Bill in the October Parliamentary sitting fortnight.
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