Green Left Weekly's $250,000 Fighting Fund Appeal: Truth in advertising

Issue 

Australia's top silk and civil rights advocate Julian Burnside QC has suggested introducing a law that makes it an offence for politicians to lie. I don't know how practical this would be, but imagine if politicians could be forced to tell the truth and 'fess up like the makers of Ribena?

Work Choices might have to be called "Abolition of Workplace Rights"; the defence department would be called the "Ministry of Illegal Military Intervention in Other Countries"; the anti-terrorism laws would have to be renamed "Removal of Civil Liberties Acts", and budget day would have to be renamed "Slash Jobs and Rob the Poor To Pay The Rich Tax Cuts Day".

And the $1.7 billion that the Howard government is estimated to have spent on advertising campaigns to lie about all of the above could be redirected for our collective benefit.

Burnside thinks there is a established precedent for such an anti-lying politicians law in the Trade Practices Act, section 52 of which makes it an offence for companies to engage in misleading or deceptive conduct.

But here the case of the learned Burnside is demonstrably weak. If this law really works, how come the makers of Ribena got away for decades with their lies about its Vitamin C content? Even now, after they've lost the court case, they are allowed to run an advertising campaign based on saying: Sorry we lied about the Vitamin C in Ribena but Ribena remains "a rich source of Vitamin C".

And how come banks are allowed to call themselves "banks" instead of Institutions to Rip Off Pensioners And Other Ordinary Clients for the Enrichment of their Shareholders and CEOs? How come they are allowed to make $4 billion a year just by slugging the ordinary depositor an average of $200 a year?

They take your money, used it to make heaps of money for themselves (allowing the likes of Macquarie's Allan Moss to collect $33.5 million a year!) and you pay them for the privilege.

Is that banking, or facilitating daylight robbery?

It isn't just that it is not a crime for politicians and big corporations to lie, but it seems that lying, cheating and ripping people off is compulsory. It's the kind of behaviour that gets rewarded. Very well rewarded. But not well enough it seems according to Sydney Morning Herald political editor Peter Hartcher. He reckons the Macquarie Bank CEO isn't getting paid enough compared to the best-paid people in the financial markets of Wall Street and London.

"Forbes magazine reports that the top 20 funds managers on Wall Street last year were paid an average of $US658 million, or $790 million, each. And 16 of them are billionaires."

Poor, hard-done Allan.

Had enough of this sicko Gordon Gekko nightmare? Time to invest your money in a project to tell the truth and to fight the system that thrives on lies and exploitation. We won't pay you interest (neither do the banks if your account is like mine) but we won't charge you fees either!

So far this year, we have raised only $70,769, 28% of our $250,000 target. Please help us make that target and keep exposing those pollies' lies by making a donation to the Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund at: Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 901992.

Alternatively, send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007, phone it through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia), or donate online at <http://www.greenleft.org.au/donate.php>.

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