FEDERAL ELECTION: News Weekly
Major parties gag candidates
, October 9, 2004
When Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper (Sept 28) surveyed major party candidates in 10 Victorian marginal seats on the hard questions of divorce, hospitals, interest rates, budget deficits and Iraq, they all parroted the party HQ script.
Nine of the 10 Labor candidates questioned sent identical pro-forma answers. Deputy Opposition Leader Jenny Macklin, the alternative Deputy Prime Minister, did not respond.
Liberal headquarters faxed a blanket response on behalf of all 10 Coalition candidates.
When the Herald Sun
contacted some of the candidates, including sitting MPs, many did not know that their party HQ had replied on their behalf.
A Coalition spokesman told the newspaper, "These are Coalition candidates and their views are those of the Coalition."
ALP national campaign headquarters said its candidates were all members of the Labor Party and would have similar views.
The Herald Sun
noted an historical irony: "It means voters have been barred from knowing their candidates' views on issues including interest rates, the war in Iraq, and hospitals ...
"The debacle smacks of the infamous gag order Jeff Kennett put on Liberal candidates before the 1999 state election, which became the single most decisive issue of a poll Mr Kennett narrowly lost."