Watchdog called in over gov ads

By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 16 April 2019
Our Fair Share

Victorian Opposition leader Michael O’Brien has referred four of the state’s most senior public servants to the state’s anti-corruption agency over the Labor Government’s ads attacking the Federal Government.

Premier Daniel Andrews released the Our Fair Share campaign over the weekend, claiming the Federal Government is “shortchanging” the state $500 million every year.

The ads are running across social media, including Facebook and Twitter, and reportedly ran on TV, radio and print.

However, in a statement, O’Brien said he’s referred the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the secretary of the Department of Education, the secretary of the Department of Treasury & Finance and the secretary of the Department of Premier & Cabinet to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) over the campaign.

O’Brien claims the ads are designed or intended to influence public sentiment against the current government, which violates the Public Administration Act.

“The Andrews Labor Government will use weasel words and attempt to argue they are exempt under Section 4 of the Public Administration (Public Sector Communication) Regulations 2018,” O’Brien said in a statement.

O’Brien went on to say Daniel Andrews is acting as Bill Shorten’s “campaign manager”.

It’s yet another wave of criticism around election advertising. The Morrison Government was previously slammed for using taxpayer money to run ads, which it’s entitled to do until an election is called.

Last week the Liberal Party was also criticised for running attack ads on Facebook warning Labor is taxing people’s Utes and Holdens.

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