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Reality check: Are we witnessing the death of truth at the booth?

Opinion

Dismissed as weirdos by the Deputy Premier, minority parties are nonetheless having an impact at the polling booths and in advertising, where truth seems to be in short supply, writes Katrina Beikoff

Print article

Walk into the pre-poll voting booth at Currumbin, the state’s most southerly electorate, and you might expect the still-closed Queensland border to be issue number one.

With the Gold Coast’s border zone from Currumbin to Coolangatta ground zero for the health lockdown battle between Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the LNP’s Deb Frecklington, it may be reasonable to think that this is the hot topic that has fired up candidates of all ilk roaming the Tugun Village Community Centre grounds.

Not quite.

The Independent candidate Tracy Takacs-Thorne is running to protect the southern Gold Coast from China.

Takacs-Thorne’s booth workers have spent pre-poll fearmongering about nefarious conspiracies from government plans to sell off the Gold Coast to China, to the need to introduce bans on “forced vaccinations”.

Takacs-Thorne is supported by the late entry candidate to the race for Nicklin on the Sunshine Coast, Riccardo Bosi, of the yet-to-be-registered Australia One Party.

Among Australia One Party’s policy positions is stopping state governments killing babies for profit. They claim governments are involved in allowing full-term abortion and then selling “baby body parts into the global body parts supply chain.”

With eight candidates running in Currumbin – including candidates from Labor, the LNP, and minor parties The Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party – Currumbin voters are experiencing the spread of Queensland’s electoral options.

Clive Palmer’s wife and deputy leader of Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP), Anna Palmer, has a strong signage presence at the booth and throughout the electorate, if not feet on the ground.

Palmer’s platform to “stop Labor’s 20 per cent death tax” is now swamping the UAP’s original “open our borders” messaging at the booth as it has in print, television, radio and social media advertising.

Palmer’s massive campaign spend behind the death tax claim has forced Labor to fight back, with the party launching an extraordinary online petition Tuesday evening calling on “all advertising outlets to stop pushing Clive Palmer’s death tax lie”.

Palaszczuk said on Tuesday any claim Labor would introduce a death tax “is definitely not true”, while Tourism Minister Kate Jones called Palmer’s death tax campaign “bullshit.

Calling for all publications to “stop Clive’s lies” and reject the UAP ads, Labor’s petitioning of media outlets says: “Clive Palmer is trying to get Deb Frecklington elected by spending millions telling Queenslanders that Labor has a death tax – just like he did during the 2019 Federal election.

“There is no death tax in Queensland. There are no plans for one from Labor. Anyone who says that there are is lying,” it says.

“Queenslanders deserve the right to make an educated decision when they cast their vote this election – the spreading of falsehoods like the death tax has serious and disastrous effects on our democracy.

“That’s why we’re calling on all media outlets to stop advertising Clive Palmer’s death tax lie.”

Yet on Wednesday, the Gold Coast’s only print daily newspaper, the Gold Coast Bulletin, carried four full-page ads by Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, including two full pages claiming “a death tax could be Labor’s plan.”

Unlike South Australia and the ACT, there is no requirement for truth in political advertising in Queensland. In the face of misinformation and alleged lies, what can political candidates do?

“There’s no honesty, there’s no transparency and there’s no repercussions. It’s so disappointing. You can just say what you like when you like, there’s no comeback,” Labor’s candidate for Currumbin, Kaylee Campradt, says.

“The things some candidates are saying to people, you can’t make this stuff up.”

LNP candidate Laura Gerber declined to speak to InQueensland. However, former LNP member for Currumbin, Jann Stuckey, who quit the LNP after holding the seat for 16 years says she has never seen more lies in a campaign.

Stuckey’s husband, Dr Richard Stuckey, is running as an Independent, advocating for voluntary assisted dying. According to his booth workers, Dr Stuckey has been targeted with false claims he supports late-term abortion.

Local independent candidate Ian Logan, second out of the gate to greet Currumbin voters behind Takacs-Thorne, has perhaps the smallest presence at the booth.

Logan is running solely to make all politicians take a 25 per cent wage cut.

“I commit to a 50 per cent pay cut if elected,” he says.

“I won’t be (elected), but why not just stick it to them!”

At least Logan’s honest.

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