Katharine Murphy’s Age column yesterday attacking big ad campaigns against government policy is the third such argument I have seen from journalists in the last six months or so. George Megalogenis made a similar argument in his Quarterly Essay (though for reasons I did not entirely follow, he thinks campaigns are ok after laws have been passed), and Peter Hartcher argued that ad campaigns threaten economic reform.
We have a choice. We can either bump along and slide into a combative political environment where vested interests set the agenda, or we can stop, think and consider the alternatives.
Should there be full public funding for elections, ensuring that politics is left to the politicians? Should we require truth in political advertising?
Or should we do nothing, and wake up in a decade to find that politics can’t do anything; that politics is now solely about carving up the spoils, that reform has become impossible?
Though I strongly disagree with the Murphy’s views, she does more or less correctly describe what campaign finance reform is about. Its purpose and effect is to insulate the political class from the views of those who disagree with them or might challenge them. Continue reading “The media gatekeepers vs free speech”