Current Affairs

Same-sex marriage activists defend text campaign as thousands receive messages urging yes vote

Meka Beresford September 24, 2017
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Same-sex marriage activists in Australia have been forced to defend their decision to launch a text message campaign as thousands of people received messages urging them to vote yes.

The Australian Marriage Equality campaign are targeting millions of Australians across the country with the texts which encourage a yes vote on the postal vote.

same-sex marriage ballot
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The message reads: “The Marriage Equality Survey forms have arrived! Help make history and vote YES for a fairer Australia. VoteYes.org.au”.

Related: What the hell is going on with same-sex marriage in Australia?

However, it has sparked controversy as concerns about how the phone numbers have been accessed increase.

Alex Greenwich, a co-chair of the campaign has defended the messaging meths as he says political parties have been using similar technology in election campaigns for years.

“The campaign has a responsibility to encourage every Australian to post their survey and we have done this through doorknocking, media, advertising, social media and SMS messaging,” he said.

Some feared that the use of text messages would actually dissuade people from voting yes as it can cause “distrust”.

However, many have defended it and insisted that when compared to some campaign tactics of the ‘No’ side it was more than acceptable.

Related: ‘Straight Lives Matter’ rally draws just 30 people, outnumbered by counter-protesters and police

Tanya Plibersek, the deputy leader of the opposition party, Labor, said the controversy caused was “irritating”.

She said: “I mean, we didn’t want this postal survey to happen, we have said all along this is a $122 million waste of money.

“When the yes campaign actually goes out and campaigns, like it would in a general election, the no campaign says, ‘Oh, its really unfair that people are urging a yes vote’.

“It’s ridiculous, we didn’t want this but we’ve now got to campaign for it.”

Sydney marriage march
(Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Some MPs supporting the Coalition for Marriage ‘No’ campaign have condemned the text.

Victorian MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins said it was “invasive” and “deceptive”.

However, it’s believed that the ‘No’ campaign is using a similar tactic to messages as reports that they are using robocalls surface.

The calls allegedly tell voters that same-sex marriage would change sex education and threaten religious freedom.

Campaigners are currently stepping up efforts to rally support as survey ballots arrive in letterboxes across the country.

Related: Is Australia’s equal marriage vote secure? Mother finds dozens of abandoned postal votes in backyard

It is believed that this is the most critical time of the survey as those who don’t complete the ballot within two days of receiving it, likely won’t ever return a vote.

Tim Lyons, a research fellow at progressive think tank Per Capita, told BuzzFeed News that the window for campaigners is very narrow.

“The experience of past postal votes is that anybody who doesn’t vote within the first few days of receiving the paper, usually doesn’t,” he said.

“After a few days the chances of them still even having it are pretty minor.”

Related topics: Australia, Australia, LGBT, postal survey, same sex marriage, text messages, yes campaign

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