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Australia Craig Kelly backs bill to stop unsolicited political texts

09:17  25 october  2021
09:17  25 october  2021 Source:   9news.com.au

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The United Australia Party is backing new powers for Australians to opt-out of unsolicited political messages.

Federal Independent MP Rebekha Sharkie has today re-introduced the Unsolicited Political Communications Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 to Parliament.

Under the bill, citizens would be given the ability to unsubscribe from unwanted texts and robocalls from political parties.

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CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 23: Craig Kelly announces his leadership of the United Australia Party and speaks against COVID-19 vaccination in a press conference at Parliament House on August 23, 2021 in Canberra, Australia. Federal parliament has resumed in Canebrra, despite the ACT being in lockdown due to growing COVID-19 cases. NSW and Victoria are also currently in lockdown as health authorities work to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta strain of the coronavirus. (Photo by Rohan Thomson/Getty Images): Craig Kelly said he will support a new bill to allow people to opt-out of political spam texts despite the legislation being aimed at the United Australia Party. © Photo by Rohan Thomson/Getty Images Craig Kelly said he will support a new bill to allow people to opt-out of political spam texts despite the legislation being aimed at the United Australia Party.

It mirrors a similar bill put forward by her Centre Alliance colleague, Senator Stirling Griff in 2019 that was rejected last year.

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The difference is, it doesn't include the same "charity call" provisions, which would allow people to opt-out of phone calls from charities.

More than 4,000 complaints have been made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in 2021, over unsolicited political messages.

Ms Sharkie says the legislation would stop MPs, such as Craig Kelly, from bombarding Australians.

"ACMA is completely powerless to act on the thousands of complaints because political messages are exempt from the laws that prohibit unsolicited communications. Instead political parties... are free to harass Australians with a bombardment of unwanted messages.


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"This bill gives the power back to Australians...with the express purpose to give consumers more control over what they receive from political parties and individual politicians," she added.

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Despite the legislation being targeted at United Australia Party, Federal Member for Hughes and Party Leader Craig Kelly has welcomed the proposed changes.

"I think it's a good idea, all the United Australia Party has called for is a level playing field, that's all we want.

"We want to make sure whatever the rules are that both the major political parties we get to compete with them under the same rules," he added.

Mr Kelly believes the uproar surrounding his use of text messages is being blown out of proportion.

"To be honest it is a microsecond swipe of the finger that deletes the text message so there is a lot of beat-up about this and you know everyone gets countless spam emails across their computer I know how they do become annoying but again you wipe them out it takes you a microsecond to wipe the things out if you don't want to read them."

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As we approach the next federal election, Mr Kelly also says Australians can expect a large volume of advertising from the United Australia Party.

"We'll be using every advertising manner that we have that is lawful from large billboards, television advertising, newspaper advertising to radio advertising because we will be competing against the major parties on that level playing field to give the Australian public a real alternate third choice."

A spokesperson for the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher says "the Government will consider the Bill carefully".

Labor MP Patrick Gorman says the Federal Opposition is also yet to decide its stance on the matter.

"That legislation hasn't gone to caucus so I can't share with you what Labor would do on that piece of legislation...but let's be honest the reason everyone is going nuts about spam messages is because Clive Palmer has been spamming people for months."

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