NINE out of 10 ACT residents believe that the territory should have laws that enforce truthful political advertising, according to new research from the Australian Institute.
That’s 89 per cent of Canberrans who took part of the research, representing people from most voting persuasions, with 91 per cent identifying as Labor voters, 84 per cent Liberal voters, 94 per cent Greens voters, and 93 per cent saying they vote for “other” parties or “independents”.
According to the research, the ACT Electoral Commission is the preferred adjudicator of truth in political advertising laws (37 per cent), followed by magistrates and judges through the legal system (31 per cent). Only 9 per cent select an industry body as their preferred adjudicator, 8 per cent select a special panel of former politicians.
“These results shows overwhelming community support for robust truth in political advertising laws,” says Australian Institute executive director Ben Oquist.
“While election campaigning by its very nature will always be strong and robust, it should not be perfectly legal to lie in a political advertisement.
“Political advertisements that are deceptive and misleading interfere with the public’s ability to make informed decisions. Without action and regulation, we risk a democratic crisis and election campaigns risk sliding into a free-fall of fake news.
“Around the world, democracies are struggling to adjust to a world full of disinformation. How to address this challenge will be a defining issue of our age. As the nation’s capital, the ACT has the opportunity to play a leadership role in this regard.
“The time is ripe for truth in political advertising laws that are constitutional, uphold free speech, but introduce a measure of fairness and accountability to the political process.”