The fight to keep Canberra ad-free

The parliament house in Canberra opened in 1927, and ten years later federal parliamentarians decided to legislate that the nation’s capital should not have any billboard advertising – presumably because it is ugly and fundamentally anti-democratic, although the reasoning behind the legislation is not recorded. Brett Phillips from the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate said “Billboards are something that’s been seen to not be in keeping with the way that [Canberra’s] been planned”.

Here is a link to an article about Canberra’s lack of billboards, which includes a link to the original legislation:
www.abc.net.au/news/specials/curious-canberra/2017-06-19/why-doesnt-canberra-have-billboard-advertising/8622186

Canberra is currently relatively ad-free, although some of the iconic old bus shelters have been replaced with modern ones with advertising within them, buses have advertising on them, and some large stores have very large signage and billboards on them – businesses try to advertise in any way they can get away with!

Prior to last year Canberra’s ad-free status didn’t attract much attention, but the ACT government announced a review of their advertising regulations in an attempt to soften these regulations and allow more advertising in Canberra:
www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-25/billboard-policy-shake-up-in-canberra/8210290

Ad-free Canberra was formed in response to the advertising review and campaigned to keep Canberra ad-free – you can read about their campaign at the links below:
www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/keep-canberra-nude-bold-campaign-to-maintain-canberras-outdoor-advertising-ban-20170620-gwuk9j.html
www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/views-of-the-brindabellas–or-of-advertising-billboards-20170620-gwuogq.html

The city of Canberra is planning to build a light-rail, and Ad-free Canberra believes the government wants to change regulations so they can sell advertising space on the light rail system to partially offset the cost of construction – and they want to stop this before it begins.

We hope Ad-free Canberra will continue its successful campaign to retain Canberra’s legislation against advertising, and to get that legislation enforced so that much of the advertising that has snuck in over the years is removed.

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