The Nationals WA have asked the Public Sector Commission to investigate a taxpayer-funded advertising campaign designed to smear the Federal Government.
Warren-Blackwood MP Terry Redman said he had written to the PSC to investigate the decision of the State Government to spend $245,000 on the politically motived “Don’t Walk Away” campaign and the involvement of senior bureaucrats in its formulation.
The campaign included a number of full page advertisements in national, interstate and local newspapers, a websitehttp://www.dontwalkaway.wa.gov.au/ (now decommissioned) and digital marketing.
“This was clearly a political campaign, yet it was funded by the WA taxpayer,” Mr Redman said.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws by The Nationals WA reveal a number of public servants were involved in the development of the campaign, including sourcing “talent” for the advertisements.
“This goes right to the heart of our public service and their duty to remain impartial,” Mr Redman said.
“The public deserve to know if these individuals were forced to partake in this bizarre smear campaign by the Premier or his ministers, or if they were willing participants in a politically-charged manoeuvre carried out at the expense of the taxpayer.”
On 15 April 2019 four public servants in Victoria were referred to that State’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and the Auditor General to determine whether a Victorian State Government advertising campaign criticising the Commonwealth Government was an appropriate use of taxpayer money.
“I believe that a similar investigation needs to be undertaken with regard to the involvement of public servants and using taxpayer funds for the “Don’t Walk Away” campaign,” Mr Redman said.
“The McGowan Government’s bizarre decision to spend almost a quarter of a million dollars on an advertising campaign to tarnish the State’s relationship with the Commonwealth deserves scrutiny.
“In my 14 years in politics I have never seen such a bizarre and misguided attempt at negotiating an outcome.”
Mr Redman said the lives of indigenous West Australians who live remotely had been used as political cannon fodder by a State Government which had seemingly “lost the plot” in regional WA.