“We regularly receive data on births, deaths and marriages in order to remove deceased Australians from the roll. We also validate postal voting requests against the list prior to distribution and again upon receipt of a completed postal vote.”
He said that while the AEC had no role in regulating the truth in political expression, it was concerned when Australia’s electoral processes or integrity measures were misrepresented and had spoken to social media platforms about the ad.
Ashby said the series tried to strike a balance between comedy, getting a punchy message in a minute or two, and the truth. He pointed to a 2017 Oh dear article when insisting on evidence of voter fraud.
On Friday, the AEC referred a One Nation candidate for Banks’ NSW seat, Malcolm Heffernan, to the Australian Federal Police because he was also reportedly running for election in Western Australia for another minor party. A spokesperson for One Nation said he was disappointed with the AEC for not discovering the issue earlier, would work with the AFP and launch an internal investigation. Heffernan told other media outlets that he was unaware that he was in multiple seats.
TikTok, the short video social network, and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, both removed the latest Please Explain video for violating their policies on misinformation and voter interference.
YouTube did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The video remains online on Google’s video-sharing site, where it had been viewed 35,000 times just after 5 p.m.
A Labor spokesperson said: “We will not dignify this nonsense” [in the video] with a response.”
Other than the most recent video, Please Explain was sharp but largely uncontroversial. Ashby chooses the topic for each video based on the politics of the day, which can range from inflation to house prices, excise taxes or alleged abuse of older Labor women towards their late colleague Kimberly Kitching.
Analysis of Crowdtangle, a social media analytics tool from Meta, shows that many episodes have been viewed more than 200,000 times on the company’s platforms alone.
Facebook audience data for the One Nation page, provided by Ashby, shows that about 10 percent of the audience is male, ages 25-34, with about 8 percent female in that age bracket. Eighteen to 24-year-old men make up less than 5 percent, women about 2 percent. But Ashby said those numbers had all been a “crazy” improvement over the party’s previous crowd.
“It’s done a lot of work to bolster the future of One Nation,” he said.
So far, Ashby said, the series has been funded through the sale of merchandise, such as a gin, butt coolers and posters featuring images from the show. “I can’t even tell you how many I sold, it’s ridiculous,” Ashby said of the stubby coolers.
He said he only once resisted the comedic and script decisions made by Stepmates. That was in an episode where Prime Minister Scott Morrison can’t lie because of a birthday wish from Barnaby Joyce. Joyce becomes so unhappy about what he did to the Prime Minister that he is on the verge of committing suicide.
“I said ‘no, no, no, too far,'” Ashby said. “That was the only time I had to pull the guys back.”