5 March 2024

PM wants an end to 'disgusting' political advertising campaigns

| Chris Johnson
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Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister of Australia

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wants tougher truth in advertising rules for political campaigns. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Anthony Albanese wants a greater legal focus on truth in political advertising, following what he described as a campaign of “disgusting” ads in the lead-up to last Saturday’s Dunkley by-election.

The federal government is looking at how to force advertisements during election campaigns to be more truthful, but the issue is becoming more difficult due to the activities of third-party players.

Speaking on ABC radio Monday morning (4 March), the Prime Minister said while Labor was delighted to have retained the seat of Dunkley on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, the campaign was plagued by fearmongering and false advertising.

“The Liberal Party under Peter Dutton, the lesson that they’ve taken from the last [federal] election is to become more conservative and more right-wing,” Mr Albanese said.

“And we saw in the lead-up to the by-election just a whole series of fear campaigns being run.

“And being run as well by Advance. This right-wing group that works hand-in-hand with the Liberal Party spent over a quarter of a million dollars on ads that were pretty disgusting, some of them.

“I don’t want to see Australia going down that polarised road that we see United States politics going in.

“But we did see that with some of the advertising and some of the misinformation that was there in that campaign.”

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Advance (or Advance Australia as it is sometimes referred to) is a right-wing political group with links to the Liberal Party but which campaigns ‘independently’ against Labor.

During the Dunkley campaign, it went hard on cost of living and against asylum seekers.

It ran full-page ads in newspapers and used rolling billboards it called “truth trucks” to advertise against the government.

Its advertising falsely claimed the High Court’s decision over the release of detained non-Australian criminals was all at Labor’s urging – something Mr Dutton and his Opposition team tried to exploit in parliament during the lead-up to the by-election.

The group is “committed to living in a free, safe and prosperous society. And that means restoring the balance by removing the far left’s control, so our nation’s centred once more on the founding freedoms of its mainstream values”.

There have been a number of proposals put forward to better regulate the truthfulness of political advertising, some suggesting harsh punishments for politicians who blatantly flout rules that would be in place.

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When asked on Monday if there should be strong truth and advertising rules for politicians, Mr Albanese said he thought there should be.

“The difficulty is how you deliver it,” the PM said.

“The people who are putting the ads in, for example, Advance, aren’t politicians, they’re not a political party.

“These things are not easy to achieve. We’re examining, and there’s been various committees looking at how you might achieve that.

“But it is difficult because some people will argue what the facts are essentially during a political campaign.

“But quite clearly, the attempt to link the by-election with, particularly the signalling out the use of the word ‘foreign’ is always a hint that it’s going down a bad road, and that occurred.

“And with social media, how do you stop on Twitter, or X, as it’s called now – there was a particularly offensive tweet put out by the deputy leader of the Liberal Party – how do you stop that?”

Two days before the by-election, Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley tweeted: “If you live in Frankston and you’ve got a problem with Victorian women being assaulted by foreign criminals, vote against Labor.

“If you do not want to see Australian women being assaulted by foreign criminals, vote against Labor.

“Send Labor a message.”

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So as long as Victorian women are assaulted by Australian criminals, then Susan Ley has no objection.

Albanese and truth should never be mentioned in the same sentence

Capital Retro8:19 pm 05 Mar 24

There was a shocker about 4 elections ago when the Canberra Libs claimed at election time that “Labor would triple our rates” which was an outright false claim.

The Canberra Liberals used the party’s platform with a vigorous and divisive fear campaign for the No vote in last year’s referendum, with all advertising authorised by Advance Australia. All this while Elizabeth Lee and her party turned a blind eye. Many of the party and its elected members have links to this disgraceful, secretive and racist group. I hope ACT voters remember this when they vote in this year’s election.

One could only imagine the screeching from the Canberra Liberals and the party’s excitable young liberal movement if Labor used its party’s platform to promote the Yes vote and its campaigning in this year’s election, with GetUp authorising all advertising!!

If you call the NO vote campaign a “vigorous divisive fear campaign” and by the way the Liberal party members had a free vote in that referendum, unlike the ALP. Then here are the points why your YES Campaign failed. No detail, No detail and NO DETAIL. Then you claim wrongly that Labor didn’t use ” it’s party platform to promote the YES Campaign.” The ALP harped on through all its party platforms state and federal for nearly 18 months basically to VOTE YES, then trust us after a YES vote to change the Constitution. Then proceeded to lie about everything to do about the Voice from its length, to how representatives would be “selected” not elected, how many there would be, that it would in effect be third unelected chamber of Parliament. No wonder 2/3 of Australians said NO THANK YOU. You appwar to have a very short and somewhat distorted memory surrounding the Voice.

The Canberra Liberals, and its dumped deputy leader Jeremy Hanson, used the party’s front group Advance Australia to do their dirty work in campaigning for a No vote in the Indigenous voice referendum. Advance is a racist and right-wing fringe group that has close links to the Canberra Liberals and its elected MLAs. This group, whose director at the time was ex-Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne (and I believe still is), used the party’s logo and its platform to run a vigorous and divisive campaign in the Voice referendum. This fear campaign, approved by the party’s leadership gave advertising rights to the group. Advance also funded Young Liberal members to travel interstate to promote the No vote.

The referendum never sought to bring a third chamber into our parliament or any other conspiracy that the Liberals and their supporters attempted to introduce into the debate. The vote only sought to give our Indigenous peoples, the most disadvantaged and repressed people in Australia, a voice to parliament. A voice that can never be taken away from them by conservative governments again. Nothing more, nothing less. It also helped the Liberals’ campaign that the party had a few high profile, conservative and privileged LNP mates to guide and help them on their way. It also helped that these mates were Indigenous and hostile to their own people’s needs.

The Liberals turned this campaign from overall public support to a racist and divisive campaign and they continue to distort the results.

Thankfully in the ACT and other capital cities in Australia, voters are more attuned and educated than the Robs of this world are and saw through the lies as the results of the referendum attest.

I hope Territory voters remember this when they vote in this year’s ACT election as I am sure they will!

In what world did the ALP not use their platform and copious amounts of taxpayer funding to push the Yes vote?

The Yes campaign was roundly defeated because they pushed an inherently divisive and racist proposition. Despite their funding and resources which was orders of magnitude higher than the No campaign.

Thankfully all Australians are more attuned and educated than the Jack D’s of the world and rightly voted it down.

Although Jack D does highlight the main problem with polticial partisans being in charge of what is “true”, so twisted is his type of view as to what is real and verifiable.

Your Voice failed because the left thought they could get this through by using catch phrases like “it’s good manners,” “the vibe” etc. Then gave the Australian voting public no details whatsoever on how this Voice would work but still wanted to change the Constitution so NO incoming government could even change it in a minor manner. Because it couldn’t be changed and it’s powers were not defined it would have certainly been a third government chamber. Australians very sensibly by a 2/3 majority said no thank you. The ACT by comparison was the only place that voted majority left or should I say ” NO.” Then we get to your rant about Advance Australia. Pot, kettle, black. These are exactly the same tactics GetUp uses and has used in the last few federal elections, only GetUp goes to actual physical violence. The same type of left wing people that are behind GetUp then you get the opposite people behind Advance Australia…correct? If you were not so politically one-eyed you would see the similarities btween GetUp and Advance Australia. Far from being enlightened or informed about the Voice Canberrans were the only place that fell for the ALP con-job.

Chewy14, if you have evidence that the government funded either side of the referendum contrary to Section 11 (4) of the Referendum ACT 1984 then please advise Federal Police or the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

Can’t see where I said they directly funded the Yes (or no) campaign, I said they used taxpayer funding to push the Yes vote.

The government and their ministers were hardly engaging in essential government business when they were travelling all across the country to promote the Voice along with the funding of associated events. And that’s not even starting on things like their “civics” campaign that was thinly veiled yes propaganda.

It’s extremely naive to not see how the government skirted the rules to leverage their support of the Yes campaign in ways that were not available to the No side.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing, chewy14, that I made no such claim? Now we are agreed that any statement like “copious amounts of taxpayer funding to push…” without any qualification would be a smear in a referendum context where the law is strict, unlike the ordinary course of political advertising exploited by governments of any stripe prior to elections.

The opposition and their shadow ministers were hardly engaging in essential opposition business when they were travelling all across the country to deride the Voice, along with the funding of associated events.

It’s extremely naive to not see how the opposition skirted the rules to leverage their support of the No campaign in exactly the usual ways used by both parties. Get a grip.

I grant that much of the commentary at the time demonstrated great ignorance of “civics” (or machinery of government) so a few more such campaigns might help in the future. Given I think I have seen you comment in favour of some sort of voting reform, is such education not of interest to you, or is education in operation of our democracy only important when it suits you?

No referendum has been passed without support from both parties and generally also of State premiers, and even some of those fail. The rejection of the Voice referendum was expected on that basis alone from my point of view, with the final opposing vote within the statistical noise of all failed referendums, nothing special. Obviously I do not expect to see it again so I am not sure why some people are still so shrill about it. Must be something on their minds.

Nowhere in my comment did I raise funding by either party for the referendum chewy. In my comment I simply pointed out the use of the Canberra Liberals platform and branding by Advance Australia in its divisive and racist advertising for the No campaign. The approval process for AA advertising was sanctioned by Jeremy Hanson and Liberal management (with Elizabeth Lee conveniently looking the other way).

It is a fact, all advertising material for the Canberra Liberals for the No campaign was sanctioned and authorised by the racist and right-wing fringe group Advance Australia. This secretive group has strong links to the Canberra Liberals, its elected members and the party’s leadership. Vicki Dunne was president at the time (and still is as far as I am aware).

Your accusations in response to my comment were clear, that the ALP used its platform “and copious amounts of taxpayer funding to push the Yes vote”.

Chewy hoodwinker caught out again and trying to rearrange his words to mislead and obfuscate!

Misinformation Albo? Yeah you’re an expert at that. Cheaper electricity. Helping with the cost of living. Stage 3 tax cuts won’t change. So full of it your eyes are brown.

This isn’t about free speech, this is about truth in advertising. Advance in particular have form with saying, “politician X said Y”, when they said no such thing. Advance and Get Up and Palmer and whoever else can push whatever barrow they like, but they shouldn’t get to make things up.

This ABSOLUTELY is about freedom of speech. When you have multiple groups of people with different world views, who gets to dictate and enforce what is the truth? Because that’s what they are implying with their suggestions of stopping their political opponents of saying things they think are “disgusting” etc.

Both sides of politics have been guilty of lying on many occasions but giving either side the ability to control the speech of others is a terrifying prospect.

Australians are able to smell BS, just let the voters decide which politicians are full of it.

Oh, I absolutely agree. Who can forget Mediscare, the LNP has a problem with women, we are all going to get $275 power bill reduction and the best for last “we have a plan?” Unfortunately one side of the fence mainly does this. The ALP.

Sorry Rob. You are only allowed to criticise the Coalition on this site. Get with the program.

Mathew Richards1:37 pm 05 Mar 24

The Prime Minister does not have a problem with adverts and tactics of Get UP and the union movement as was on display at the last Federal election. Advance in the main stated facts, Get Up resorted to lies and intimidation of candidates and voters. If the misinformation bill gets passed, Labor will decide what is acceptable. So much for free speech.

GrumpyGrandpa1:22 pm 05 Mar 24

Fear mongering, misinformation are apparently disgusting, when it’s your opponent doing it.

I think we’d all like politicians of every persuasion to be honest, upfront and not lie or spin the truth. Sadly, it’ll never happen because, my truth is your lie etc.

I was NOT a fan of Stage 3, however, Albo and his party voted for it and went to an election on that basis. Albo, for his own political advantage, then amended Stage 3.

So Albo, how about your team set an example, so that others know what standard they need to maintain.

pink little birdie12:41 pm 05 Mar 24

Most parties would fair a lot better and have a lot more respect from most voters if they concentrated on advertising what they are going to do or why in particular they object to that particular policy rather than running negative campaigns or personal attacks on candidates.
It’s one of the major criticisms of the local Liberal parties campaigns. Many people in Canberra aren’t going entertain just being told ‘other party bad’

Gee, I thought you were commenting on the ALP until the last paragraph. Remember Mediscare, remember GetUp cold calling voters and promoting Mediscare when they knew it was a lie? Remember the ALP’s election promises? All broken with the exception of the Indigenous Voice that 2/3 of Australians didn’t want. Both sides are guilty of this just the ALP are much more guilty.

I wonder what Advance would have to say about Andrew Barr if they decided to run a campaign at the ACT election. Plenty of material to work with.

Judging by Advance’s hostile, divisive and immoral efforts at previous elections, I am sure the group could find plenty to dream up against Andrew Barr!

Especially with the known links many of the Canberra Liberals have to this secretive and far right group!

Jack D you don’t need any lobby group to find garbage on Barr.

The last thing we need is further political censorship, particularly when the people calling for it spent most of the last year calling anything they didn’t like “disinformation” and “misinformation”.

I have zero faith in the ability for any government body to determine an objective “truth”.

Attacking freedom of speech over lies, is like using a nuke to swat flies.

Trump is at odds with americans because he was seen as against democracy. Labor are clearly against democracy, yet the same people that vote for them hate trump.

The only explanation is there are some that can’t see the true intentions

“But it is difficult because some people will argue what the facts are essentially during a political campaign.”

…oh so now he’s AGAINST lying during a political campaign. When did he change his opinion on the matter?

“And with social media, how do you stop on Twitter, or X, as it’s called now – there was a particularly offensive tweet put out by the deputy leader of the Liberal Party – how do you stop that?”

Openly admitting to wanting to implement censorship of your political opponents because they said something you find “offensive” is really not a good look.

How do you stop that? Unless you are planning to establish a dictatorship, you don’t!

It’s funny when it’s always the same side of politics arguing for censorship of people they don’t agree with or trying to establish “authoritative” sources of truth.

There is usually a whole lot of nuance around what is and isn’t true and those that want to control what opinions are and aren’t allowed to be stated are terrifying to me.

A perfect example of this is a conversation with an ex who is all for censorship of those she doesn’t agree with. As I said: I have a question for you, are you cool that if someone like Trump (who she detests) gets into power and then they are the ones who get to dictate what is and isn’t true, what people are and aren’t allowed to say? Just because your side of politics is in charge currently, doesn’t mean it will remain that way so you better be prepared for this to be applied in the opposite direction if you want to advocate for it.

The concept of freedom of speech has always been one of the founding principles of liberal western democracies and these people seriously need to pull their heads in.

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