Written and authorised by the government?

In this week’s episode of The Gruen Transfer they discussed this mining industry ad against the government’s proposed mining tax. Host Wil Anderson asked the panel about the ‘Authorised by M. Hooke, MCA, Canberra’ message at the end.

Rather surprisingly regular panel member Todd Sampson thought that this was a clever move to make it look like a government ad. Fellow panel member Carolyn Miller also thought that this was a sign of government advertising. In reality, as the other regular panel member Russel Howcroft pointed out, the written and authorised message is a legal requirement applying to electoral matter.

It seems that the government itself is such a dominant political advertiser that a provision aimed at revealing who is behind political campaigns is taken by people in the advertising industry itself to be a government endorsement. There is so little other political advertising that they don’t notice that all of it tells you who is behind it.

I’ve long suspected that the written and authorised message is useless. Now I think it may be positively misleading.

5 thoughts on “Written and authorised by the government?

  1. It’s called being hoist on your own petard. When things like this bite political elites on the bum we should all rejoice.


  2. But the ads are not “electoral”, in that they are not related to any election, are they? Are “issue ads” which are unconnected to promoting any particular candidate covered by the same rules?


  3. Bruce – I think that is the case. In the era of the permanent campaign, the government these days wants to monitor potential enemies at all times and cover issues that may affect voters, even if there is no reference to parties or candidates. I have copied in part of section 4 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Ironically this means that it is the main party that has to comply with the laws:

    Without limiting the generality of the definition of electoral matter in subsection (1), matter shall be taken to be intended or likely to affect voting in an election if it contains an express or implicit reference to, or comment on:
    (a) the election;
    (b) the Government, the Opposition, a previous Government or a
    previous Opposition;
    (c) the Government or Opposition, or a previous Government or
    Opposition, of a State or Territory;
    (d) a member or former member of the Parliament of the
    Commonwealth or a State or of the legislature of a Territory;
    (e) a political party, a branch or division of a political party or a
    candidate or group of candidates in the election; or
    (f) an issue submitted to, or otherwise before, the electors in
    connection with the election.


  4. todd sampson is a complete dill.

    he is one of these people who thinks that wearing a t-shirt with a snappy slogan is the equivalent of actually doing something about whatever cause de jour he cares about at the moment.
    uggh… sanctimonious self-rightous trendoid…. the very worst kind.


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