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Why Craig Kelly Is Spamming Australia With Texts

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If you haven’t been hit with text messages from Australian politician Craig Kelly yet, count yourself among the lucky few.

Plenty of Australians have received texts that were authorised and sent by the MP.

The messages attack other political parties and play into COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.

And they’ve made a lot of people mad because they never even signed up to receive them.

So, what’s going on here?

What Is Craig Kelly Texting People?

Kelly is a known climate change denier and COVID misinformation super-spreader.

He recently jumped ship to Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, which has become known for its “Make Australia Great Again” slogan and dangerous anti-vaxx propaganda.

The texts tell people to click on a link, which is definitely what you shouldn’t do with spam.

Junkee reporter Edwina Storie found that one of the links takes you through to a report by the  TGA.

It’s basically a tally of all the reports that people have made, where they said that they’d experienced adverse side effects, in relation to the three vaccines;   Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and the third was unspecified.

The TGA report states up top that multiple adverse events may have been reported by some patients.

But the TGA itself told Junkee that reporting of an adverse event on its database doesn’t mean that the vaccine caused it, and that information can’t be used to evaluate whether a medicine or a vaccine is safe.

The effects may just be a coincidence, or a symptom of an underlying health condition.

The list also includes things like fatigue, headaches, falls, diarrhoea, chills, and dizziness as adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines.

But  ATAGI clearly lists tiredness, headaches and chills as common side effects.

Let’s also not forget that the federal government is increasingly trying to boost vaccination rates in Australia at the moment, as part of its four-phase plan out of the pandemic.

So, if Craig Kelly is not really publishing anything new - or helpful – what are these texts about, then?

What’s The Point Of The Texts?

University of Sydney’s Dr Peter Chen - who teaches media politics - says that it’s just a communication strategy that’s sometimes used by politicians.

These politicians basically deploy all sorts of evidence that they think will help make their political claims.

In Kelly’s case that strategy revolves around vaccine hesitancy.

And the fact that a federal election is supposedly going to be called soon definitely makes the timing of the texts a little suspicious.

It feels like it should be illegal for a politician to spam the nation, but it’s actually not.

And that’s because, under the Privacy Act, political parties are not considered an ‘organisation’.

That means they are exempt  from various laws — including the Do Not Call register.

When he was asked about his messages by the Sydney Morning Herald last week, Kelly said that he was “absolutely not” sorry for sending them, and that what he was doing was “100 percent legal.”

Dr Chen pointed out that it is an extremely expensive communication strategy.

But given the fact that Australia has seen Clive Palmer and his campaigning team spend huge amounts of money in the past, he isn’t totally surprised.

Back in 2019, a similar message left millions of people confused as to how Palmer got their number in the first place, when they’d never opted in to receive them.

That same year, the party also ironically sent out texts promising to ban unsolicited political messages if elected.