2 May 2007

Don't Call Me, John...

The government's long-promised Do Not Call Register is finally up and running.

Even if you do not register your number, new election-conscious laws mean that those annoying telemarketers cannot call you outside a 9am - 8pm window on weekdays, or 9am - 5pm on Saturdays.

Unfortunately, however, there are still some unscrupulous vermin who will be able to bother you with unsolicited calls:
The Do Not Call Register will make it illegal for telemarketers to call numbers listed on the register without consent, but certain organisations are exempt.

They include government bodies, educational or religious organisations, charities and registered political parties, although Senator Coonan said politicians would not be able to call if they were soliciting money.
Well, given that the Howard government is about to spend millions of my own hard-earned taxpayer dollars in a desperate (and doomed) effort to buy my vote, it's not like they would have much luck asking me for even more cash, is it?

But why are political parties exempted from this law? In the USA, where voting is not compulsory, political parties and pressure groups spend millions of dollars placing countless cold calls in an effort to "get out the vote". These are computer-generated calls that use recorded messages. They are often deliberately misleading and even sometimes insinuate false allegations against opposition candidates. The number of calls placed in the final 48 hours of a big US campaign is quite staggering.

Given the Howard government's desperate polling position, plus their tendency to copy anything Uncle Sam does (and remembering that Howard's own son has been working on US political campaigns), you have to wonder if they are preparing a similar phone blitz later this year.

Don't call me, John, and I won't call you.


UPDATE: Wow. When I posted my thoughts on this, I didn't expect them to be reflected in the top story at ABC News just a few hours later.
Communications Minister Helen Coonan is defending the Government's decision to allow politicians and pollsters to ring people who enroll on a new register designed to stop unwanted phone calls.
Qui custodiat custos?