AFTER a huge day in the Australian marriage equality debate, there are concerns groups not receiving funding from the Federal Government to campaign for or against the plebiscite on same-sex marriage could run advertisements with false or misleading information.

Attorney-General George Brandis and special minister of the state Scott Ryan announced the public vote on marriage equality will be held on February 11 next year and both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaign groups will receive $7.5 million in funding each to promote their side of the debate.  Each group will consist of a committee of 10 people each and will be free to receive donations of up to $1500 for their campaign which will not be tax deductible.

The plebiscite question will be “should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to be married?”.

Media outlets will be also required to run any advertisements that are submitted by either of the government-funded groups and will not be allowed to deny one side air time, similar to the requirements placed on outlets during the 1999 republican referendum.

But independent campaign groups who receive public funding would be free to create advertisements that are not bound to normal advertising standards of truth because because they will classify as political advertising.

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) told news.com.au that it would not monitor any ads campaigning in the lead-up to the plebiscite because of the Broadcasting Services Act which does not require political advertising to be factually correct. However, they would need to be correctly authorised and declared in the advertisement.

Special minister of the state Scott Ryan said the plebiscite committee of cabinet would make sure that ads run by both sides of the debate would not break advertising standards but he did not have the power to change advertising standards for groups not receiving government funding.

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