Political and public opinion advertising

Australia’s advertising self-regulation system is designed to regulate commercial marketing and advertising of products and services.  

Ad Standards does not handle complaints about political advertising. 

Political advertising is advertising that attempts to influence or comment on political matter. 

What is political matter? 

Some material will obviously be political matter – for example, an advertisement designed to affect how a person will vote in an election.  

However, it is not necessary for material to explicitly promote a political party, candidate or policy for it to be considered political matter for this purpose.  

If an ad is principally directed towards influencing public opinion on a matter of public controversy, or promotes the interests of a group organised to influence public opinion, it is also likely to be considered political matter and will not be considered by the Community Panel. 

In deciding whether or not an ad is about a political matter, we take into account the imagery and language, overall presentation, emphasis, style and the current social and political context surrounding the publication of the material.  

Why we don’t cover political ads 

We do not consider complaints about political ads because regulating material that forms part of the democratic process is very different from regulating commercial advertising. It would not be appropriate for the Community Panel to intervene in political matters or make decisions that would restrict public debate or amount to active participation in public debate.  

We understand that many in the community would like advertising about political matters to be regulated, however it is not within our scope to do that.  

The regulation of political advertising is a matter for the parliament. 

Making a complaint about political advertising 

If you are concerned about any political advertising, the best course of action is to contact the organisation responsible for the ad, your local Member of Parliament or the Australian Electoral Commission

What about community service announcements? 

Ad Standards may accept complaints about ads of a public education or community service nature if their principal function is not to influence or comment on political matter, and they raise an issue under the advertising codes. 

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