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"Old media" threatened by my film crew: Weatherill

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Premier Jay Weatherill says the “old media” is threatened by his use of an Adelaide production company to record his trip to the Paris climate conference.

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Weatherill has been criticised for using taxpayers’ money to fly a two-man team from Adelaide to Europe to film and package short pieces about his activities in Paris.

The footage was supplied to Adelaide media where it has been used to illustrate stories about the climate talks.

Weatherill has also uploaded the footage to his Facebook and YouTube pages.

The Opposition and some media figures have questioned the expense, likely to run into tens of thousands of dollars, with Liberal leader Steven Marshall saying a $10 selfie stick would have done the job just as well.

Interviewed on ABC radio today, the Premier was unrepentant and said he planned to hire the same production house for similar work in the future.

He said the footage would be used in “as many places as we can” to promote South Australia and attract investment.

“It’s already been used by a number of the news networks and the very same networks that were also running stories criticising us so I found that curious,” Weatherill told ABC 891.

He said it was “a bit of a threat to old media”.

“We’re publishing our own material, bypassing the old media – they don’t like that,” he said.

Weatherill’s department hired Adelaide production house, 57 Films, to accompany the Premier on the trip. It’s not the first time the production house has been engaged by the Government. The company also shot footage of the Government’s trade mission to China earlier this year.

No local media accompanied Weatherill to Paris. Media companies pay their own way when they choose to travel with the Premier.

The cost of the crew’s Paris trip has not been disclosed, but the Premier promised that would happen.

“We account for all of the expenses associated with our overseas travel in the ordinary course and we’ll do that,” he said.

“We need to realise that the modern form of communication is to capture images and present high quality images of our State both to the nation and the world to attract attention to ourselves, to attract the investment that we need.”

When asked about the lack of editorial independence in the footage produced by his film crew, Weatherill said: “Well and people can judge it though. They’re just images. I didn’t put a fake picture of the Secretary-General sitting next to me.

“All of these things are about promoting South Australia to the world. People still have the right to criticise us if they do, but we are also going to send out images of ourselves, we’ll use them in promotional material on our trade missions.

“You can’t actually get the quality of presentation necessary just by running around with a selfie stick.”

He said that would present a “low rent” image of South Australia as “a bit of a sleepy country town”.

Weatherill also argued that hiring a local film crew overseas would be more expensive than flying a crew from Adelaide.

“This allows us to control the images in a way which we can ensure the quality is there.

“We’ve done this on previous trips … and produced a range of important material for stakeholders that can be reused on a number of occasions at conferences and other international events and I intend to do it again in the future.”

He also indicated that 57 Films would continue to be favoured by the Government and appeared to indicate that future work would not be put out to tender.

“We obviously use people that we know and trust and do a great job and I’ve got no complaints with the current organisation.”

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