Federal Election 2016: Blackout on broadcast ads 'pointless' in internet age
A media blackout on political ads from midnight Wednesday seems pointless in the internet age, an academic has suggested.
A section of the federal Broadcasting Services Act 1992 covers television and radio but does not affect campaigning on the internet.
University of Adelaide politics professor Clem Macintyre said the "advertising ban is really a relic of an earlier age, before the internet, when we got our information from the television and radio".
"It was thought there should be a ban over the last few days to enable a time for sober reflection after the campaign, before [voters walk] into the polling stations and cast their votes on Saturday," he said.
Bureau of Statistics data indicates more than 7.7 million Australian homes have internet access.
Professor Macintyre said the broadcast laws had not kept up with media consumption patterns.
"Estimates are roughly a third of voters have probably already cast their vote," he said of the current election.
"The idea of a cooling-off period [is of] no relevance for them.
"So much information these days is gained from the Internet, which is not regulated, so we've really got to ask what's the point of a media blackout?"
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young agreed the laws were outdated.
"It seems a bit silly to have only a ban on television and not on other things. I'd do away with it, frankly," she said.
"Even from 2013, that election to this election, I've seen a significant growth in the amount of online campaigning, the engagement of voters online, and it promotes that one-on-one contact."
Coalition frontbencher Mathias Cormann would not be drawn on whether the laws were out of date, saying "this is a longstanding rule and the Coalition complies with the rules".
Source: ABC News