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Time to tighten the reins on politicians and their ‘truths’

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, Graeme Orr, writes in The Conversation (15.7.16) about the apparent decline in voter trust in our political leaders, arguing that the recent federal election campaign – as well as the Brexit vote in the UK – demonstrate that it could be time for tighter regulation on ‘truth’ in political claims and advertising.

‘Labor’s “Mediscare” campaign. The Coalition and industry claims that Labor’s housing policy would deflate – and inflate – property prices. The Brexiteers’ pitch that the leaving the European Union would free up £350 million a week for the UK health system. These are not Goebbelsian “big lies”.

‘But when campaigns are built on manipulation and occasional mendacity, trust in democratic politics is corroded. Can the law play a role in redressing these risks?

‘The idea of regulating “truth” in political speech is not new, nor is it easy. Political debate and truth can seem like oil and water. Politics is slippery. And it floats above the realm of clarity and rationality.’

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