Napthine accused of spending taxes on campaign ads

The Age: Napthine accused of spending taxes on campaign ads. October 2, 2014. Richard Willingham, State Political Correspondent for The Age

The Labor Party has accused Premier Denis Napthine of using taxpayer-funded advertising as part of the Liberal Party’s campaign.

In the Liberal Party’s latest television commercial Dr Napthine lists some of the government’s achievements and plans.

Behind him are series of videos, some of them including extended grabs from government department advertising material including Moving Victoria and information graphics developed for the East West Link.

It is understood the opposition is considering complaining to the Auditor-General.

Labor’s scrutiny of government spokesman Martin Pakula said it was clear material produced by government departments had been appropriated into Liberal Party advertising.

“You have effectively got government departments doing the Liberal Party’s job for them,” Mr Pakula said.

“It is totally inappropriate. The Premier and the Liberal Party do not understand the distinction between the government and taxpayer funds, and the Liberal Party and their political interests,” Mr Pakula said.

The Premier’s office referred questions to the Liberal Party. A party spokesman said it welcomed the ALP highlighting the government’s commitment to the East West Link.

“Mr Pakula should focus on explaining to the Victorian public why Daniel Andrews and Labor are against jobs, against supporting local industries and against this congestion busting state-shaping infrastructure project,” he said.

“As the Treasurer said yesterday, Labor claims they are for workers and families, but Daniel Andrews would sacrifice thousands of Victorian jobs to save Labor’s inner-city seats from the Greens.”

The complaint follows concerns that government information advertising, including the Moving Victoria series, which is paid for by taxpayers and explains the government’s transport agenda, is too political.

In 2010 the opposition attacked then Premier John Brumby for spending more than $100 million on government advertising campaigns, arguing that such ads were also too political.

The Coalition promised to crack down on misuse of advertising by setting up a five-person panel with a retired judge as chair. But only a watered-down three-person panel has been established. It is next due to report after the election.

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