Industry reacts to ‘No’ win: ‘The time is right to introduce federal truth in political advertising laws’

Key figures within the media and marketing industry have reacted to the ‘No’ vote emerging victorious on Saturday night’s Voice to Parliament referendum.

Over 60% of the country voted against the Voice, which backed up what early polling indicated in the week’s leading up. In fact, ACT was the only territory to count a majority vote in favour of the move.

Speaking to Mumbrella, Monash University constitutional law professor, Luke Beck, slammed the federal government, claiming it allowed misinformation and disinformation to be spread during the campaign.

“The time is right to introduce federal truth in political advertising laws along the lines of what exists in South Australia and the ACT,” Beck said.

“The federal parliament passed up an opportunity to ban misinformation and disinformation ahead of the referendum campaign. In January, Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters rejected calls to do this. The committee said ‘the forthcoming referendum is not the right time to establish a truth-in-political-advertising regime.’

“However, the same committee recommended in June that Australia adopt federal truth-in-political-advertising laws that would apply to all future federal elections and referendums.

“The culture around political campaigning in Australia should not be allowed to get worse.”

Meanwhile, Pollinate CEO Howard Parry-Husbands told Mumbrella that the brutal truth is that the ‘Yes’ campaign “never had a chance without a strong, evidence-based strategy”.

“If there’s one thing those of us in the advertising, media and marketing profession can learn from the ‘Yes’ campaign, it is that evoking an emotional response without a well-considered strategy and plan will end in tears, unintended consequences and a waste of all of your money,” Parry-Husbands said.

“It’s time to put the strategy back. Because as we’ve seen, hope without strategy is hopeless.”

Managing partner at the MrWolf agency, Tony Singleton, who has previously also been critical of the ‘Yes’ campaign, took a more optimistic approach to the result despite the resounding defeat, saying the loss should be viewed “as a chance to reframe the vote as a step on the journey rather than an end point”.

“Awareness of First Nations disadvantage is way higher than it’s been historically which can create the foundations for real change,” Singleton told Mumbrella.

“I’d also look to harness the power of the informed younger audiences by encouraging them – a la Obama’s Great Schlep – to have conversations with their older family and friends – it’s one of the few options that will be effective at shifting the entrenched views of the older generations.”


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