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Proposed ban on political advertising



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P A R L! A M C N T O F A U S T R A L I A

H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S

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M E M B E R f o r K O O Y O N G

SH AD O W A T T O R N E Y ·G E N E R A L S H AD O W M IN IS T E R FO R JU S T IC E

H O N . A N D R E W P E A C O C K , M .P .

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PRESS RELEASE BY HON. ANDREW PEACOCK, MP SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

PROPOSED BAN ON POLITICAL ADVERTISING

The Government's announcement that, after receiving advice from the Solicitor-General, it intends to proceed with the proposal to ban political advertising on electronic media, will be poorly received by the Australian people,

The Law Council of Australia, the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties and many others, including myself, have pointed out that the proposal contravenes Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which contains a guarantee

for freedom of expression.

Furthermore, many eminent lawyers have expressed doubts as to whether the proposal may be constitutionally valid, particularly insofar as the ban is to extend to the conduct of State and Local Government elections.

In all the circumstances, a Government proceeding with a

controversial measure, apparently in receipt of legal advice authorising such a course of action, is duty bound to advise the nation of the content of that legal advice. This is reinforced by the fact that it would seem that the Solicitor-General's

advice was sought only after the Government proposed this draconian and undemocratic measure.

It is not unprecedented for such advice to be made public. In light of the questions that many have raised as to the validity of the proposal, both at an international and domestic level, the only appropriate course of action for the Government to adopt

is to make the Solicitor-General's opinion available to the public.

The Government has suggested that the opinion proffered by the Solicitor-General says that it has constitutional authority to proceed with the ban. If so, there is no reason why it should not be willing to divulge the legal reasoning it is relying upon. This should be done without delay.

MELBOURNE 26 MARCH 1991

Enquiries to Sturt Glacken (03) 614 4022