The Australian Sex Party has threatened Google with legal action after the search engine refused to run its ads on the eve of tomorrow's Melbourne by-election.
It comes after Sex Party ads were blocked by Google at the last federal election because the company - which is typically opposed to censorship - perceived the text as too racy (the ads were reinstated by Google the day before the election).
Sex Party candidate Fiona Patten said this time the search giant said it would not approve her ads "because we have a donate button on our page and we're not a charity".
"It's giving me the shits that in two elections we've not been able to run ads with Google when all of the other political parties have had no problem," she said.
"We've sent them screenshots of the donate buttons on the ALP and the Greens sites and they've allowed all of those ads to run," she said.
Google said in an email to Patten, seen by this website, that it "doesn't allow the solicitation of funds (donations) unless they're tax exempt".
The Sex Party is an Australian political party and so, according to the ATO, donations are tax deductible. The party specifies this on its website.
Marcus Falley, who is a consultant to the Sex Party, told Google in an email that its actions were "adversely impacting the results of an election" and "this will end up in legal action if not corrected".
Patten, who is campaigning on issues such as drug law reform and 24 hour public transport on weekends in the inner-city, has been in consultation with Google on the issue this week but so far the company has refused to budge.
"It's too late now and they're still holding off we keep saying mate the election's Saturday and they've been holding off for over a week," she said.
"We need to take this further. They are blatantly treating us differently to the Greens."
The Sex Party said it was taking "legal advice relevant to the Electoral Act and the TPA [Trade Practices Act]".
Labor has held the seat of Melbourne for 100 years but the Greens have been polling well. "Our preferences are going to Labor and we're polling between 6-8 per cent," Patten said.