Negative ads ?wrong
By ALEX EASTON
BALLINA MP Don Page says he will push for new laws governing election advertising, after blaming the Coalition's election loss on Labor's negative advertising campaign.
Mr Page accused Labor of deliberately misleading voters in advertisements claiming the teachers, police and nurses would have been among the 20,000 public service employees sacked by a Coalition Government.
While congratulating local candidates on running a clean campaign, Mr Page said the negative statewide ads, combined with a fear campaign on industrial relations, had played a major role in the Coalition's defeat.
"It's appalling that political advertising is not subject to legislation on misleading advertising," Mr Page told supporters on Saturday night.
"We live in a democracy where messages are important, but we don't have legislation that protects the public from people who want to perpetrate lies.
"That has to be a priority for us, so we can never have a campaign like this again."
Speaking yesterday, Mr Page conceded it would be difficult to get that legislation through Parliament unless Labor decided to back it.
However, he said he would begin discussions with his colleagues on a Private Member's Bill as soon as Parliament resumes.
"There needs to be a high level of accountability (on advertising), especially 12 months out from an elec- tion," he said. "The Electoral Commission needs stricter rules."
Those stricter rules should apply to political advertising at all levels of government, Mr Page said.
Ballina Labor candidate Melanie Doriean agreed the advertising campaign had been negative, but said it was no more negative than the Coalition attacks on former Federal ALP leader Mark Latham ahead of the 2004 Federal election.
Lismore Labor candidate Peter Lanyon joined Mr Page in condemning the ads, saying both sides of politics had resorted to 'disgusting' advertising and had exaggerated their attacks in a bid to beat their opponent.
However, he also defended the claims in the job-cuts ads, saying they would have been made in a context of Labor solidarity with all public service workers.