Legislating Lies

12 March 2019

The Labor Government is moving towards making it easier for government to use taxpayers’ money to fund propaganda promoting Ministers.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Lia Finocchiaro has lodged a dissenting report on the Public Information Legislation Amendment Bill 2018.

She said the Bill was little more than a blatant attempt by the government of the day to further utilise Territorian’s tax dollars to advance political goals, and was a complete about-face for the Labor Government that promised to restore integrity to government at the 2016 election.

Among other things, the Bill removes the prohibition against using public dollars to produce advertisements that present opinions or are factually inaccurate, instead requiring only that a ‘source’, such as a contact person or previous Ministerial media release be cited.

"We have entered a new era of political spin and misinformation when a Ministerial press release can serve as a self-authenticating source document for information that is later advertised or disseminated to the public, using Territory Government funds," Mrs Finocchiaro said.

"The result of this change is that the Government will have the ability to create ‘fake news’ and legislate lies, market that fake news and face no repercussions whatsoever for using public funds to advertise or distribute that fake news.

"In fact, if the Labor Government were genuine, they would have repealed the Act entirely, rather than pretending it will have any useful function in keeping the Government to account after these changes are rushed through."

Another change is a backflip by the government on the use of a Minister’s image on government materials. In 2016 they banned the practice – the amendments will allow them to use them again in government propaganda.