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Parliament to receive 'Mediscare' report

AAP logoAAP 5/12/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

A parliamentary committee which examined the so-called "Mediscare" campaign is expected to recommend changes to the way in which election advertising is authorised.

The joint committee on electoral matters will release its final report on the conduct of the 2016 election campaign in March 2017, but in the interim it will hand down recommendations on the issue of authorisation this Friday.

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan asked the committee to look at the issue in the wake of Labor's campaign on the "privatisation" of Medicare, which used advertising material resembling Medicare cards and an election day campaign involving mobile text messages which appeared to come from the health care agency.

Labor told the inquiry it complied with all authorisation requirements, but admitted the rules had become confusing and difficult to administer, and had not kept pace with technological change.

The party argued for authorisation to be "formal neutral", identifying the person responsible for printing or broadcasting advertisements while not interfering with the purpose of the advertisement.

However if the printed version of the election advertisement included authorisation information, it shouldn't be necessary for the SMS version to carry the authorisation, the party argued.

The Liberal Party argued in its submission SMS and mass telephone calls - including so-called robo-calls - should be put on a proper legal basis to ensure voters understand who is communicating with them.

"An SMS should make it plain who is sending the message ... the sender details should be genuine," the submission said.

The party also called for impersonating a commonwealth entity such as Medicare to be made a criminal offence.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described the Labor Medicare campaign as fraudulent and unmatched in its deceit.

A federal police investigation did not find any breach of the law.

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