Page 1544 - Week 05 - Thursday, 2 June 2022

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It is important in our democracy that all members of the community, including those who disagree with the government, are able to voice their concerns and opinions, which is why I am today presenting this petition on their behalf. This petition is the culmination of a significant body of work from many citizen scientists and concerned community activists who have dedicated their time to a cause they are deeply concerned about. I wish them well in their continued advocacy.

Advertising—public spaces and transport—petition 35-21

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (10.06): I would like to talk briefly about the public space advertising petition response. I want to thank the minister for responding to that, for outlining some of the existing regulations and enforcement practices around public space advertising in Canberra and for committing TCCS to exploring options to keep our bus windows clear from advertising. I know that this type of ad, in particular, upsets a lot of people. It literally makes people sick, and I do not think there is any place for it on our fleet or in our city. I am really, really pleased to hear that the minister will review the Adshel contract, in light of the concerns raised.

I want to remind everyone of the long-running community campaign to keep Canberra ad free. A lot of people will be keen to see that review: 523 petitioners signed this petition, and in 2017 we had a record number of Canberrans coming out against billboards and other forms of public advertising. These Canberrans have drawn the attention of the ACT government to the fact that public space advertising is socially, economically and environmentally destructive.

Petitioners have also noted that advertising is unpopular in the ACT. We have had sustained community campaigns trying to protect our ad-free status, but we are still seeing ads creeping into more and more of our public spaces. I am sure these people will welcome Minister Steel’s compliance action, outlined in the response, but Canberrans are still regularly reporting illegal ads. Some of the examples we have seen are billboards on community buildings and in Civic, as well as commercial corflutes on roadsides. I am really looking forward to further conversations about how our current laws will be consistently enforced and I am interested in discussing further ways and reasons why we have a warning system in this instance but we do not seem to use a warning system in other instances.

We are also seeing a proliferation of ads that are not actually illegal but that maybe should be. There are many ads that are not banned but that run against public policy and public sentiment, and sometimes against government policy too. A particularly egregious example was an ad in my electorate, in Jamison, on a bus stop. It showed a picture of a young person eating fries. The ad suggested that people should use payday lending to go out and buy more fries. The ad literally encouraged our youth to go into debt to buy junk food.

It is not a good idea to run this kind of advertising. We have got consumer experts all around the country calling to rein in this kind of predatory lending, but we are endorsing it on government property. I find it deeply worrying. I understand how hard it must be for government to understand which are good ads and which are bad ads,

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