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Proposed ban on political advertising



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M E M B E R F O R KOOYONG SHADOW A T TO R N E Y -G E N E R A L SHADOW M IN IS T E R F O R JU S T IC E

HON. A N D R E W PEACOCK, M.P.

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PRESS RELEASE BY HON ANDREW PEACOCK HP SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

PROPOSED BAN ON POLITICAL ADVERTISING

The Coalition welcomes the commitment given by the Prime Minister during Question Time today that the Government will review its position on the Political Broadcasts and Political Disclosures Bill upon receipt of further advice from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Mr Brian Burdekin.

The proposal to ban political advertising on electronic media clearly contravenes the guarantee of freedom of expression found in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights. There are also strong doubts about whether it is within the legislative competence of the Commonwealth to implement the ban.

It is a sad irony that in February 1986, Senator Bolkus, in

arguing for the establishment of the Commission, said: "There is no doubt that our legal protections fall short, in many

respects, of internationally accepted standards".

There is no doubt that the proposal to ban political advertising on electronic media falls far short of the standards that

Australia has undertaken to the world to uphold with respect to free speech. This has been confirmed by Mr Burdekin.

The Government set up the Commission so that it could act as a public watchdog for government abuses of human rights. In this instance, the Government has conveniently chosen to muzzle the Commission in order to mislead and misinform the public.

Furthermore, it falls upon the Government to demonstrate that the proposed ban can be justified and that it has Constitutional power to put the ban in place by way of legislation. The simple fact of the matter is that this draconian measure cannot, under any circumstances, be justified.

The Government is clearly obliged to make public the advice already given by Mr Burdekin. I also repeat my call that the Government make available the opinion proffered by the Solicitor- General in which ft is apparently claimed that the Government has Constitutional authority to proceed with the ban.

CANBERRA 17 MAY 1991

Enquiries to Sturt Glacken: (06) 277 4028