Palaszczuk’s brazen, morally bankrupt propaganda blitz
One of the true reforms of the Fitzgerald Inquiry was an edict that taxpayers should not fund election advertising.
It seems simple enough in a democracy like Queensland but along with his penchant for gerrymandering, former premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was fond of dipping into government coffers to sell his latest policy.
In his report, Tony Fitzgerald said:
"Consideration should be given to establishing an all-party committee to monitor the cost and workings of Ministerial and departmental media activities, including press secretaries, media units and paid advertising.
"This committee could analyse whether the money is being spent on informing the public or distributing propaganda for political gain.''
Last December, the Palaszczuk Government overturned electioneering advertising legislation that had stood the test of time since 1990.
Under the Fitzgerald-inspired laws, the Code of Conduct said "there should be no advertising within six months of the scheduled date for an election''.
The law now says it's okay for a government to advertise right up until the caretaker period kicks in, which is October 3.
Back in December last year, we had no idea that a virus pandemic would turn our world upside down, both from a health and economic perspective.
But by changing the Fitzgerald law, the Palaszczuk Government is now embarking on an advertising and marketing campaign - in the crucial countdown to an election - that would make Bjelke-Petersen proud.
The "unite and recover'' mantra is being used by the current State Government to ram home its post-COVID economic recovery plan.
You would have seen the taxpayer-funded ads everywhere. Newspapers, billboards, television, radio, even fence banners … touting Queensland's "strong health response to COVID-19 means we are well placed for economic recovery''.
Now, remember we are just six weeks out from an election, a poll that the Labor Party wants to turn into a referendum on how it contained coronavirus through its hardline border stance.
It can't campaign on its fiscal record - there isn't one. It can't campaign on how it solved the child safety crisis. It hasn't. It can't campaign on controlling youth crime because it is still out of control.
It can't campaign on integrity. Cue Jackie Trad. So with all its eggs in the COVID basket, voters are being told - with their money - how the Queensland Government is spending $7 billion to help small business, manufacturers, regional jobs and skills and training.
The government will also be spending "record amounts on tax relief, infrastructure and funding health services that will support up to 55,000 jobs''.
Bollocks. The government is broke. It is $100 billion in debt. It has no plan, other than to tell people it has a plan.
Smoke and mirrors. Tax relief? Seriously? When Treasurer Cameron Dick was asked repeatedly last week if he could rule out any new taxes if re-elected, he couldn't.
If Labor is re-elected, the first thing they'll do is hike stamp duty and car rego. That's what they do. It's in their DNA.
And it's using tens of millions of dollars on advertising campaigns, paid for by taxpayers, to tell us it has a plan which includes tax relief. The first casualty of war is truth.
If this government was so caring about creating new jobs and helping small business, it would do what any normal government would do and open the borders to everywhere except Victoria so that people can get on with their lives.
Trust the contract tracing regime, which has been exemplary. It would approve the Acland Stage 3 coal mine at Oakey, creating 600 jobs.
Instead, we're being told to "unite and recover'' when the state is divided and in economic free fall because of poor COVID policy.
We're watching border exemptions handed out to celebrities, while a woman who has just given birth to a baby is forced to wait four days for a first cuddle.
Kids at boarding schools can't see their parents for the school holidays, yet luxury boat owners who lie to get into Queensland are allowed to remain. A young women being denied the chance to go to her father's funeral.
Many Queenslanders would have a major problem with their taxpayer dollars being used to tell us the sitting government's economic recovery plan.
By all means tell us your zombie economic recovery plan. But in the blowtorch environment of an election campaign, how can any government justify blatant COVID-19 propaganda, using taxpayer dollars?
Broadwater MP David Crisafulli raised the issue in Parliament last week, asking how long would this glitzy marketing campaign continue.
The premier didn't answer, suggesting former premier Campbell Newman played the same game. There is no evidence that the Newman Government bombarded voters with pro-government propaganda 50 days out from an election.
Surely, if Labor wants to tell us how good they are, it should be from union donations, sorry Labor Party money. Take a look at this photograph (pictured).
It is a fence banner at a Kedron cricket oval, which has been returfed during COVID. Hundreds, possibly thousands of people, walk past it every day as it adjoins a popular walking trail.
What does the returfing of a cricket oval at Kedron have to do with uniting and recovering? It's blatant, brazen, ubiquitous propaganda.
And the consultants the Palaszczuk Government has hired to roll this campaign out should be paid double, They are very, very clever. Is it ethical? Of course not. Is it morally bankrupt? You betcha.
But it's all part and parcel of Queensland politics circa 2020. To use a good old-fashioned Aussie term, Labor are taking the piss.
But as Sir Joh would say, don't you worry about that.
Originally published as Palaszczuk's brazen, morally bankrupt propaganda blitz