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Their ABC - Tanya Plibersek defends YES spam text messages - "It's ridiculous" that people are upset

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SSM: Tanya Plibersek defends Yes campaign after thousands receive same-sex marriage texts


Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek has defended an unsolicited text message campaign urging people to vote Yes in the same-sex marriage survey.

Key points:

  • Australian Marriage Equality says messages were sent using a "technology platform"
  • Sparks privacy concerns about whether phone numbers had been kept on a database
  • Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek defends text message campaign

Thousands of messages telling people to "help make history and vote yes for a fairer Australia" have been sent this weekend, prompting many to ask how the campaign got their phone numbers.

Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality, said the text messages were sent using a "technology platform" used by political parties during elections campaigns for years.

Mr Greenwich said the campaign was trying to reach millions of Australians and would be matched with more traditional campaigning.

He did not reveal the costs of the campaign, but said that would be disclosed "as appropriate".

"The campaign has a responsibility to encourage every Australian to post their survey and we have done this through doorknocking, media, advertising, social media and SMS messaging," he said.

The text messages, sent through a randomised computer generator, have sparked some concerns about privacy and whether mobile phone numbers had been kept on a database.

Former NSW deputy privacy commissioner Anna Johnston said "spamming was a sure-fire way to get undecideds to distrust your campaign, like they distrust politicians".

But Ms Plibersek defended the text message campaign on Insiders this morning, saying it paled in comparison to some techniques being used by the "no" campaign.

"One of the things that is most irritating about this is people who are getting their goat up about the SMS messages coming out urging a Yes vote," she said.

"I mean, we didn't want this postal survey to happen, we have said all along this is a $122 million waste of money."

Ms Plibersek said she was nervous about the outcome of the debate and said the biggest threat to the Yes campaign was people assuming it would succeed.

"When the yes campaign actually goes out and campaigns, like it would in a general election, the no campaign says, 'Oh, its really unfair that people are urging a yes vote'.

"It's ridiculous, we didn't want this but we've now got to campaign for it."

The yes campaign has also pointed to reports the no campaign is using robocalls to suggest same-sex marriage could lead to changes to sex education and threats to religious freedom.