The Broadcasting (Election Programmes and Election Advertising) Amendment Bill, recently introduced to the House by Justice and Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams, has today received its first reading.
The Bill will remove the requirement for opening and closing addresses to be broadcast at election time and instead allow parties to advertise more flexibly and effectively, using their funding allocations under the Broadcasting Act.
Under the bill, parties will also be able to use this funding to advertise online, rather than only on television and radio.
Ms Adams says that the current system’s reliance on traditional broadcast media is outdated as more people turn to the internet as their primary source of information.
“All political parties need a fair opportunity to communicate with voters at election time,” says Ms Adams.
“In light of declining voter participation, it is especially important that funding and resources made available for this purpose can be used efficiently and effectively.”
To offset the two hours of broadcasting time on TV and radio removed, the Government has agreed to a $750,000 increase in the budget for parties’ allocations under the Broadcasting Act.
“By removing the cost of having the addresses, allowing equivalent advertising time to be placed as parties desire and letting parties use their allocated funding on online advertising, parties will be able to make more effective use of limited resources for engaging voters,” says Ms Adams.
Reform of opening and closing addresses was unanimously recommended by the Justice and Electoral Committee in their review of the 2014 general election.
The Bill will now go to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee for consideration and public submissions. It will be considered alongside the Electoral Amendment Bill, which deals with related matters of electoral law, for their second and third readings.
It is intended that the changes will be in place well in advance of the 2017 general election.
Updated on 4th November 2016