Scott Morrison has greenlighted MPs spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money on TV and radio advertising in the lead up to May election in a move that has been greeted by outrage from Labor.
Under the current rules, MPs have a budget of around $137,000 for electorate communications and senators have up to $109,000 to spend.
It’s currently used for Facebook advertisements and expensive mailouts to constituents but the Prime Minister, a former marketing man believes that regional radio and TV stations should not be locked out of that revenue.
Special Minister of State Alex Hawke quietly made the changes a week ago and today he defended the decision
The Morrison Government has defended the changes on the grounds that they are designed to keep the advertising spend here in Australia, rather than going to multinationals including Facebook overseas.
“Labor is a party that lectures us about multinationals, but are opposing changes that take expenditure away from social media giants like Facebook and put it into local Aussie communities,” Mr Hawke said.
“In confirming they will ‘fight’ these changes, Labor have demonstrated yet again that they have the wrong priorities,” Mr Hawke said.
“Labor are opposing the rights of disadvantaged communities to receive the same level of communication from their members of Parliament that metropolitan communities receive.”
Bill Shorten has flagged it will move to ban the practice before the election, confirming today “Labor is opposed to this change and we will be fighting it.”
But the changes, if they succeed, will allow all MPs, regardless of whether they are Labor, Liberal, Greens or independents to use their printing entitlements to buy TV and radio ads for the first time.
“It is a disgraceful move that Australians will see straight through,” Labor spokesman Don Farrell said.
“And it is yet another example of how disgustingly out-of-touch the Liberals and Nationals are with the Australian people.
“Under these dodgy new rules, every time voters are bombarded with a Liberal or National political ad on TV or radio, it is Scott Morrison wasting $22 million of taxpayers’ money trying to save his own job.”
The current rules clearly state that office expenses must not be used to pay for production or placement of content for broadcasting on television or radio.