United Australia Party launches last-minute blitz of misleading WHO ads

Asked on Sydney radio in mid-May about the claims that a treaty was in the works that would grant WHO control over Australian health, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was emphatic: “No, it’s complete rubbish and we would never sign anything like that.”

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on May 17 that international collaboration to fight pandemics strengthened nations rather than overriding their sovereignty because it made the chance of devastating disease outbreaks less likely.

“Unfortunately, there has been a small minority of groups making misleading statements and purposefully distorting facts,” he said. “I want to be crystal clear. WHO’s agenda is public, open and transparent. WHO stands strongly for individual rights.”

The UAP text directs voters to a campaign website for the party that includes a further link to its how-to-vote cards for each state and territory.

It is not uncommon for political parties to send blanket messages or phone calls with pre-recorded messages, particularly around election time. In addition to a Spam Act exemption, political parties do not have to comply with the Do-Not-Call Register and the obligations in the Privacy Act 1988 in how they collect, use, disclose or store personal information.


When it comes to spam text messages, Palmer and Kelly are repeat offenders. In August, Kelly was widely criticised for sending mass messages to Australian phones directing them to the UAP website.

Ahead of the 2020 Queensland election, Palmer’s company Mineralogy spammed people all over the country with messages accusing Labor of having a “death tax” and linking to a how-to-vote card.

In this election, voters in the regional Victorian seat of Nicholls were sent texts from an unidentified sender — not the UAP — falsely asserting an independent candidate had been endorsed by Labor.

The federal Labor Party also came under fire for the practice in the 2016 election with the so-called “Mediscare” text campaign, which purported to be from the government agency and claimed then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had plans to privatise it.


As the latest UAP message began hitting phones on Friday, the AEC responded to complaints from voters via their Twitter account, informing them the messages were not prohibited by the Electoral Act and it did not disclose the telephone numbers of electors to political parties.

“We don’t fact-check politicians, candidates or parties talking about matters of policy or political opinion. Our role is in ensuring people have accurate information about the electoral process,” the AEC said on Twitter.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have run a number of political ads from the UAP, but owner Nine Entertainment Co has declined to run ads that contravene health advice or ATAGI guidance on vaccines.

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