Following the Voice Referendum, new Australia Institute research shows that almost nine in ten (87%) Australians want Parliament to pass truth in political advertising laws.
Misinformation and disinformation swamped the referendum campaign with arguments that often had little to do with what Australians were being asked to vote on.
Whether it is an election or a referendum, voters should go to the polls armed with the facts. It is perfectly legal to lie in a political advertisement and it shouldn't be.
South Australia has had truth in political advertising laws since the 1980s and the ACT recently legislated similar laws.
A clear majority of Australians (72%) agree they are concerned about lies and misinformation that circulated on social media during the referendum campaign, compared to one in five who disagree (17%).
39 prominent Australians signed an open letter, coordinated by the Australia Institute's Democracy & Accountability program, calling on federal parliament to pass truth in political advertising laws that are nationally consistent, constitutional and uphold freedom of speech.
We need Truth in Political Advertising Laws before the next federal election.
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To the Australian Parliament --
It is perfectly legal to lie in a political advertisement and it shouldn't be.
Just as it is unlawful for companies to engage in deceptive or misleading conduct, Australians want laws to ensure political advertising is truthful and transparent.
Australia Institute research shows a majority of Australians, from across the political spectrum, support truth in political advertising laws.
Regulating the truth is not impossible.
But we face an upcoming federal election in which fake news and misleading claims about political opponents will only further erode trust in government.
We urge you to pass truth in political advertising laws that are nationally consistent, constitutional and uphold freedom of speech before the next federal election.