Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Expensive propaganda needs controls

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-10-03

The quantity of political advertising by the Howard regime over recent weeks is unprecedented, and I’m not convinced the ALP will do anything to fix this abuse unless they put forward specific policies during the official election period.

Apart from controls instituted by Canadian governments (discussed in Political advertising: paid, free and under the wire (2007-07-13)) which involve an independent ombudsman approving government advertising before publication, there is a refinement that could prove useful where not just the content, but the quantity, needs to be assessed.

Market regulators use algorithms that can detect insider trading even amid the noise of equity markets, finding suspicious trades by volume that occur in the days leading up to an announcement that goes against market expectations.  These, or even simpler algorithms could detect unreasonable volumes of advertising by governments.

Because these quantitative methods provide hard metrics, they could be used to set thresholds used either by the ombudsman who authorizes not just the content, but the amount of advertising, or, if the ombudsman only reviews the content, can be used as evidence in prosecution or shaming when abuse occurs.

State ALP governments have been almost as bad as Howard – and I’d argue for similar controls at state levels.

Unless Rudd and the ALP come out with specific measures to control the squillions wasted on government propaganda, I’ll be left thinking that the ALP will be just as abusive, and a plague o’ both their houses.


One Response to “Expensive propaganda needs controls”

  1. pondie84 said

    Of course the ALP will be just as bad. However, I just don’t see how the Liberal Party will ever be able to argue against such advertising in the future now…

    We’ll just get the same childish “You did it so why can’t we” arguments and the excuses from ALP supporters that “it’s just the way politics works”. I’m so glad I don’t watch tv anymore…

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