Election 2022: Federal department refers advertising material to AEC

By Anna Macdonald

May 19, 2022

Greg Hunt
Health minister Greg Hunt. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The federal Department of Health has referred advertising material to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) over the use of the department’s Health Funding Facts web page in advertising material.

“The Department takes the Caretaker Conventions seriously and applies them as intended,” a statement by the department read. 

The last change to the website was on April 11 to correct a date, and following that no other changes have been made.

The advertisement in question is a Liberal election campaign advert titled ‘Get the facts on Medicare’, which asks the audience to go to the aforementioned website, with the line: ‘Labor doesn’t have a plan, so they’re telling lies about Medicare… Again’.

At the bottom of the advertisement is the legally required authorisation, naming it as a Liberal party advert. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, shadow minister for health and ageing Mark Butler made the complaint to the department’s secretary, Brendan Murphy, on Monday, expressing concern the advertisement legitimises the policital message because it links to a government website.

Health minister Greg Hunt reportedly argued back, pointing to the use of the NDIS logo on Labor’s advertising materials.

In the guidelines on caretaker conventions by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, campaigns highlighting the role of a political party in an area of contention should be discontinued. 

The guidelines continue to state agencies should not actively distribute advertising material, but passive distribution was acceptable. 

Rules surrounding political advertisements during an election campaign are split between the AEC and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The former regulates matters such as proper authorisation and messaging on how to vote, and the latter regulating broadcast rules, including the television blackout period. 

The AEC has continuously stated it does not regulate truth in political advertising, encouraging voters to check the source in the authorisation.  


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