Dirty tricks police: website tracks campaign cons
2007 Liberal candidate for Lindsay Karen Chijoff is confronted by members of the ABC's The Chaser including Chas Licciardello as she leaves a polling booth in Glenmore Park. Photo: Adam Hollingworth
A new website launches today enabling voters to keep track of the dirty tactics used by some MPs when sending out campaign pamphlets across Australia.
The idea was spawned following the Lindsay pamphlet scandal, in which Liberal Party volunteers distributed bogus election pamphlets claiming to be from "The Islamic Australia Federation", which was later found not to exist.
I think that it's going to bring a new level of transparency to the process for election leaflets, which, up until now, hasn't existed in Australia
The pamphlets claimed the Labor Party candidate would support clemency for convicted terrorists and the construction of a mosque in the area. The husband of then Liberal candidate for Lindsay Karen Chijoff and the husband of outgoing Liberal MP Jackie Kelly were caught handing out the bogus voting material.
Nicole Campbell candidate for labor and Victor Dominello candidate for liberal party both handing out pamphlets outside west ryde public school. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
Landauer, who used to work in special effects in the movie industry, has just become an Australian citizen and was previously based in the US. This election will be the first time he votes in Australia. "I've never been a member of any politcal party," he added. He is living off his savings.
OpenAustralia founder Matthew Landauer Photo: Lisa Cross
Constituents can upload campaign leaflets to the site so others can scrutinise them and check for discrepancies.
Landauer told this website: "I think that it's going to bring a new level of transparency to the process for election leaflets, which, up until now, hasn't existed in Australia.
"There have been a number of political scandals involving leaflets in Australia, with probably the most recent one that I'm aware of being the Lindsay election leaflet scandal, which is actually curiously one of the more sought-after seats for this coming election," he said.
His site - based on a similar idea, thestraightchoice.org, in Britain - will act as a live "monitor" of campaign flyers.
"Election leaflets, which people will get in their door during the next five weeks, are one of those incredible battlegrounds of ideas, promises and attacks that are largely invisible to the press and largely invisible to the debate at large because they're usually very local and very kind of focused to local issues," Landauer said.
"We're going to launch this website where anybody can, if they've received a leaflet, just upload it to this website, say what their postcode was where they received it in, and then anybody can see it.
"The idea is that there will be an incoming flood of all of these leaflets across the country and everybody can see who's being attacked, what issues are going into the leaflets, what promises are being made, and whether statistics are abused or misused."
Asked whether politicians should be afraid of the new site, Landauer responded: "If what they put out in their leaflets is fair and reasonable, then not at all."
Even with the launch of the site, Landauer said he still expected to see dirty tricks used by MPs in the upcoming federal election, but said that he expected it to not be as bad as the Lindsay scandal.
"The purpose of this is to expose those kinds of things and bring them to media attention."