When the Australian Government introduced anti-spam laws earlier this year, an exemption was included for charities and political parties. I've yet to see any legalised spam from an Australian charity or political party. They'd be mad to do it, you'd think.
Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Liberal Party in John Howard's own electorate of Bennelong is sending out unsolicited emails promoting the local member of parliament in the forthcoming election. (An election for which he is yet to set the date.) These emails aren't just going out to users inside his electorate, either.
But if that's not enough, the company contracted to send the emails is a Sydney firm by the name of Net Harbour. And who happens to be one of the directors?
Tim Howard, son of the Prime Minister himself.
Quizzed about the matter on radio in Hobart this morning, JH said that he put up the money for the spam campaign himself. Defending his son, he said (source):
"I'm very proud of the fact that my son has started a small business. He's in his 20s and I get a real buzz out of the fact that he's prepared to have a go in a small business, that's what the future of this country is all about."
Regardless of the apparent exemption that JH is exploiting, and regardless of the serious conflicts of interest involved, there is the question of how his son's company obtained the email addresses. Not from dad's electorate website I hope...
Really, how stupid it is to send spam to your constituents just before an election? In the letterbox is one thing, but email is such a sensitive issue these days. Any other MP trying that sort of stunt would be immediately branded an idiot.
For the record (and a special hello to Google, Lycos, Altavista etc), the suburbs covered by the Bennelong electorate are: Boronia Park, Carlingford, Chatswood West, Denistone, Denistone East, Denistone West, East Ryde, Eastwood, Epping, Gladesville, Macquarie Park, Marsfield, Meadowbank, Melrose Park, Monash Park, North Epping, North Ryde, Putney, Ryde, Tennyson Point, West Ryde.